GORDON WALTERS NEW VISION
(Dunedin Public Art Gallery/Auckland Art Gallery, $79)
This excellent book documents and expands upon a major Gordon Walters exhibition jointly curated by the Dunedin Public and Auckland Art Galleries. The exhibition is on now in Dunedin and comes to Auckland in July. Superbly illustrated, the book will extend Walters' already lofty reputation as one of the greats of New Zealand art. Curators Lucy Hammond, Julia Waite and Laurence Simmonds all contribute meaty essays as do some international writers. Indeed, placing Walters' abstract art more coherently within various international contexts, both European and American, is a noteworthy feature of the book, as are essays by Deirdre Brown and Peter Brunt, which re-examine and subtilise the sometimes-contentious issue of the relationship of Walters' work to Maori and Polynesian art.
TEN X TEN: ART AT TE PAPA ed. by Athol McCredie
(Te Papa Press, $45)
There are already several substantial books documenting Te Papa's art collections; this one foregrounds the museum's curators, having 10 of them select and comment on 10 favourites from the collections for which they have responsibility, ranging across historical and contemporary art, photography, design and Maori, Pacific and indigenous art. Each work reproduced gets a page of commentary. For example, decorative arts specialist Justine Olsen chooses an archaic Egyptian ring, a Linthorpe earthenware jug, a pewter dish by Liberty, a Frances Hodgkins textile design, a ceramic jug by Picasso, a light fixture by Ernst Plischke, a pounamu and resin brooch by Warwick Freeman, and a ceramic figure by Bronwynne Cornish.
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UNDREAMED OF…50 YEARS OF THE FRANCES HODGKINS FELLOWSHIP by Priscilla Pitts and Andrea Hotere
(Otago University Press, $60)
A half-century for any fellowship is a milestone worth celebrating; Otago University's Hodgkins Fellowship has been notably transformative for both its recipients and the city that hosted them. Each artist gets a four-page spread consisting of two essays — Priscilla Pitts focuses on the art; Andrea Hotere on the biographical, including interviews — plus several reproductions and photographs. Many of New Zealand's best-known artists have held the fellowship, from Michael Illingworth in 1966 to Miranda Parkes in 2016. The book gives welcome attention to some who are less than household names: Derek Ball, Ian Bergquist, Matt Pine, Michael Armstrong, Kendal Heyes and Sarah Munro. Well designed by Karina McLeod, the book is informative, enjoyable and an invaluable reference work.
COLONIAL GOTHIC TO MAORI RENAISSANCE: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF JONATHAN MANE-WHEOKIed. by Conal McArthy and Mark Stocker
(Victoria University Press, $80)
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, who died in 2014, was a much-respected teacher at the universities of Canterbury and Auckland and a curator at Te Papa. Originally a specialist in the Gothic revival in Victorian England, he widened his perspective to include New Zealand art. For this memorial, Conal McCarthy and Mark Stocker have assembled new essays — many of them absorbing — by Mane-Wheoki's friends, colleagues and former students on topics covering the wide range of his interests, including two by Mane-Wheoki himself. The book is lavishly illustrated and includes an annotated bibliography. It is a handsome and successful example of its rather old-fashioned kind.
ROGUES' GALLERY: A HISTORY OF ART AND ITS DEALERS by Philip Hook
(Profile Books, $45)
The marketing of art has a somewhat appalling fascination as the brouhaha about the recent record price for Leonardo's Salvator Mundi demonstrates. Philip Hook, a Sotheby's specialist, had the idea of tracing the history of art dealing and dealers since the Renaissance. His main focus is on the personalities involved, being "a study of the fascinating band of men [and women] who devoted their imagination, ingenuity and powers of persuasion to selling works of art". The liveliest chapters are devoted to Joseph Duveen (who specialised in Old Masters), Paul Durand-Ruel (champion of the Impressionists), Ambroise Vollard (Cezanne's great backer), Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (advocate for the Cubists, Picasso, Braque and Gris), and Leo Castelli (doyen dealer of the New York post-war scene).