Seurat’s Circus Sideshow by Richard Thomson, et alii. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017 paper. The mystery, color, and magic of the circus in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Georges-Pierre Seurat has captured the circus in all of its vitality.
Obsolescence; An Architectural History by Daniel Abramson. University of Chicago Press, 2017 paper. Our buildings must be newer, more grand, more efficient; otherwise they are due for demolition. New York is one of the worst offenders. But what about adapting a building to new uses?
The Sagrada Familia; The Astonishing Story of Gaudi’s Unfinished Masterpiece by Gijs van Hensbergen. Bloomsbury, 2017. A celebration of Gaudi’s famous church a mixture of Gothic and Art Nouveau.
Figures in Stone; Architectural Sculpture in New York City by Robert King. W.W. Norton, 2018 paper. Quirky faces, figures, and creatures that adorn the architecture of New York City.
Looking Backward; A Photographic Portrait of the World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century by Michael Lesy. W.W. Norton. Glimpses of daily life a century ago.
Wood by William Hall. Phaidon, 2017. Wooden structures dating from the ancient world to contemporary times.
Divine Pleasures; Painting from India’s Rajput Courts; The Kronos Collections by Terence McInerney, et alii. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 29016 paper. Paintings from Hindu Rajput courts between the sixteenth and eighteenth-centuries.
Imaginary Cities; a Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between by Darren Anderson. University of Chicago Press, 2017 paper. Ideas drawn from real and imaginary cities around the global and arguing that this imaginary tour has influenced the shape of real cities.
Hokum!; The Early Sound Slapstick Short, and Depression-Era Mass Culture by Rob King. University of California Press, 2017 paper. Its Depression-era development against a background of changes in the film industry practices, the public’s comedic tastes, and the movie-going culture. Take a look at the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Robert Benchley.
Tokyo Boogie-Woogie; Japan’s Pop Era and Its Discontents by Hiromu Nagahara. Harvard University Press, 2017. Emerging in the inner-war years, the Japanese pop scene had its admirers but also provoked a contentious debate about its merits and suitable for Japan.
The Children’s Film; Genre, Nation, and Narrative by Noel Brown. Wallflower Press, 2017 paper. Films for children and young people have been around since the beginning of cinema; here is an introduction to that sub-genre its recurrent themes and ideologies, common narrative, and stylistic evolution.
The Voice of America; Lowell Thomas and the Invention of Twentieth-Century Journalism by Mitchell Stephens. St. Martin’s Press, 2017. A famous radio journalist whose voice I can still remember. What about Hans von Kaltenborn’s voice?
Chasing the Last Laugh; How Mark Twain Escaped Debt and Disgrace with a Round-the World Comedy Tour by Richard Zacks. Anchor, 2017 paper. In 1895 at age sixty, Mark Twain was dead broke; he wasn’t making money on his writing. So he decided on a five-year lecture tour that would take him around the world.
When the World Stopped to Listen; Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph, and Its Aftermath by Stuart Isacoff. Knopf, 2017. What Harvey Van Cliburn’s triumph meant to all of us transcended the Cold War. Wasn’t it sad that many who were engaging in that rhetoric missed the opportunity to get beyond Cold Wars?