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Gently Mad

Nick’s Picks for the Holidays

The Primacy of Drawing
by Deanna Petherbridge
published by Yale University Press
hardcover, 521 pages
324 illustrations. $65
For years treated as the poor cousin in art appreciation, drawing gets its full measure of respect in this comprehensive history of a creative form that begins with a basic premise. “This book,” Deanna Petherbridge, formerly a professor of drawing at the Royal College of Art in London, declares outright, “is based on the passionate belief that drawing is the basis of all art and visual thinking.” She begins her scrupulous survey in the fifteenth century, a time when paper was becoming increasing available in Europe, and studies a wide variety of work, paying particular attention to Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya, and Picasso, among others.
Pre-Columbian Architecture in Mesoamerica
edited by
Maria Teresa Uriarte
published by Abbeville Books
hardcover, 336 pages
609 illustrations, 315 in color. $125
The archaeological region that extends from northern central Mexico to El Salvador and Honduras was once home to a number of dynamic civilizations that flourished in this hemisphere before the arrival of Europeans in the fifteenth century. This over-sized examination of the ruins—an art book in the grand tradition—includes a series of scholarly essays prepared by noted archaeologists now working actively in the field, and incorporates the latest scholarship. Each of the region’s major cultures—including the Olmecs, Maya, Teotihuacanos, and Aztec—are treated individually. Among the spectacular photographs are images of pyramids, palaces, and plazas; maps, plans, and drawings are appended to the text.
The Moment of Caravaggio
by Michael Fried
published by Princeton University Press
hardcover, 301 pages
194 color illustrations. $49.50
First presented as a series of Andrew Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., this authoritative monograph introduces readers to the oeuvre of Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio (1573-1610), one of the most important artists of the Western tradition, while taking in a number of related themes and artists. Especially inviting are the insights Michael Fried shares on how he goes about looking at a painting. This is a tour de force of art criticism, written with the reader always in mind.
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