Monday, January 30, 2012

BBC: Nature's Great Events

Nature's Great Events, a book made to accompany the BBC documentary by the same name is informative and beautiful. It is a fairly good accompaniment, as is covers a lot more information than the six part series alone. The focus of this book is on seasonal changes, and some of the more spectacular examples of it. This book is a great resource of references, mostly for animals, but also for some environments and color. This book is also not afraid to show a lion killing a zebra, nor the bloody ribs being pulled apart later. The honesty of this book is intense and wonderful. 

Broken into sections like, The Great Flood, The Great Feast, and The Great Migration, the book successfully bops around the globe, giving us a taste of everything.

There are also a few shots of the camera crews struggling. This book allows the crews themselves to write and talk about what the experiences were like, and the particular challenges faced in each location.

Catching this moment! 

A volcano erupts on the Serengeti

Musk Oxen, native to Alaska and Canada, have been successfully introduced to Norway and Sweden.

Pros: This hard back book is both a great companion piece, and a stand alone book. The photographs are spectacular, and, as I mentioned before, rather daring in regards to what is more commonly printed. If you are looking for a reference book, I would say this is a nice well rounded starter. If you are looking for something informative and full of fun trivia, this is the book for you

Cons: --

How To Buy: Search discount places. I found mine for $4 at a Barnes and Nobles. Or Amazon is selling it for $5, original list price is $40

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire

Julie Taymor's Playing With Fire is a riveting book. Less an art book, and more of an insight into the decisions and personal, as well as universal symbology as seen by Julie Taymore. Except for an introduction that talks about Taymor's experiences growing up and becoming a director, the book is written largely by Taymor herself. Each play has it's own section in which Taymor discribes how she interpreted the play, what her intentions were, her decision making process from costumes to backgrounds, to which characters are represented by people and which are only props, and always, why. Throughout her discourse about that particular play, images associated with it, such as sketches, stage performances, costumes, and cameo shots are thrown in. Despite Taymor being such a visual artist, there is relatively little documented art in the book. That being said, I cannot express enough exactly how intriguing it is to read the extremely well written Taymor's thoughts and beliefs on such a specific and intimate level. Please enjoy her provoking work.

An Answering-service operator manipulates "herself"

A rape scene, Taymor dresses Lavinia as a doe and has her symbolically attacked by tigers

A work she is most publicly recognized for, Taymor was responsible for much of the Lion King Broadway Musical

Character designs for the Lion King drawn by Taymor:
Mufasa, Scar, Simba
three tricksters
Nala, Rafiki, and a hyena

Julie Taymor herself
Pros: A nice sized book that documents all of Taymor's works, the binding is solid and sturdy. The true treasure of this book is what Taymore has written about herself. If you are interested in symbology, I highly recommend this book. 

Cons: Less imagery than expected, and early work is documented in black and white

How to Buy: Amazon
Note of Confusion: Instead of releasing new compilations, every time Taymor completes a few new plays, she updates Playing With Fire, keeping the same name, and the same cover. This being said, you can buy old versions of her book for rather cheap. New editions cover everything that previous editions had, just added new material for the new work. Just know how much you want.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NG: Sacred Places of a Lifetime

National Geographic's Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite art books of all time. I full heartedly recommend this book to anyone of any inclination, because there is guaranteed to be something in it for you. Being National Geographic, the photographs are, as a matter of course, absolutely mesmerizing. The information is helpful, informative, unique, and leaves just enough for you to explore further if the flight takes your fancy. And the shear breath of images, ranging throughout the world, revered and forgotten, natural and man-made, daily and exclusive, the book can capture anyone's imagination. 

Most of the pages follow this layout, a single dominating image, a map indicating the location of the specific site in relation to the world and a brief description about what makes that place special. Then additional information is provided, such as what time of year is best to visit, where to stay, and how you should plan your visit, as well as any other highlights. 

The book is interspersed with groups of "Ten Sacred_____" These locations are not otherwise mentioned in the book, but you are given enough information to become interested, and research further if you so desire. 

The book also has a section dedicated to sacred celebrations. Focusing less on location, these event are all steeped in tradition.

Even modern places of remembrance are respected

Pros: Everything! This book is well bound, nice slick paper, wonderful photographs, evocative, inspiring, and very well rounded. In fact, this book was so successful, it helped to create the spinoffs by National Geographic, Secret Journey's of a Lifetime, and Drives of a Lifetime. This is a good solid book, pretty heavy, and wonderful for reference, inspiration, or just plan coffee table book. 

Cons: --

How to Buy: Amazon


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