BOOKS ON CITIZEN SCI­EN­TISTS, VOGUE PHOTO SPREADS, ME­DIEVAL ART, MARIE-ANTOINETTE, NEON LOS AN­GE­LES, QUEER THE­ORY, DE­SIGNER PIERRE PAULIN, AND MORE.

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Matt Suther­land

CITIZEN SCI­EN­TIST Search­ing for He­roes and Hope in an Age of Ex­tinc­tion Mary Ellen Han­ni­bal, The Ex­per­i­ment, Hard­cover $26.95 (432pp), 978-1-61519-243-4

If cli­mate change has you down and you’re trau­ma­tized by the thought of an­other crit­i­cal species be­ing lost to ex­tinc­tion, here’s some­thing to think about: all your heart­felt em­pa­thy doesn’t do did­dly-squat to help the planet. What’s needed is a crit­i­cal mass of get-off-your-as­stivism, as out­lined by Mary Ellen Han­ni­bal in Citizen Sci­en­tist. Han­ni­bal ad­vo­cates for par­tic­i­pa­tory re­search, the long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of ama­teur nat­u­ral­ists en­gag­ing in whale watch­ing, bee count­ing, tide-pool mon­i­tor­ing, and other forms of na­ture ob­ser­va­tion. The data col­lected can then be shared on inat­u­ral­ist, Google Earth Out­reach, Google Maps, and sim­i­lar tech­nolo­gies which “al­low us to ob­serve with con­se­quence.” Part per­sonal ad­ven­ture story and nat­u­ral his­tory, Han­ni­bal proves her­self to be an in­spir­ing writer.

STOP­PERS Pho­to­graphs from My Life at Vogue Phyl­lis Pos­nick, Abrams, Hard­cover $75 (256pp), 978-1-4197-2244-8

The gang’s all here: Anna Win­tour and Vogue’s leg­endary sta­ble of pho­tog­ra­phers—an­ton Cor­bijn, Pa­trick De­marche­lier, Steven Klein, An­nie Lei­bowitz, Hel­mut New­ton, Irv­ing Penn, Mario Testino, Tim Walker, and Bruce We­ber—in a cel­e­bra­tion of Ex­ec­u­tive Fash­ion Edi­tor Phyl­lis Pos­nick’s first-ever col­lec­tion of photo spreads from her twenty-five years of work for Vogue. In Stop­pers, with Pos­nick’s per­sonal mem­o­ries along­side each show-stop­ping pho­to­graph, we learn of the off-the-cuff cre­ativ­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween edi­tor, pho­tog­ra­pher, and the world’s most beau­ti­ful women. For those un­fa­mil­iar with the Vogue ap­proach, be pre­pared for ir­rev­er­ent, even shock­ing pho­tos of the high­est qual­ity.

HOW TO READ ME­DIEVAL ART Wendy A. Steinw, The MET, Soft­cover $25 (136pp), 978-1-58839-597-9

Hazy, enig­matic, dis­turbingly un­civ­i­lized, the mil­len­nium-long Mid­dle Ages fol­lowed the won­drous Greek and Ro­man eras, seem­ingly un­able to rise above the com­pet­ing mis­chief of Ro­man and Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity, Ju­daism, Is­lam, and the Vik­ings, Nor­mans, Franks, et al. Even the pa­gan­is­tic Celtic and Ger­manic tra­di­tions main­tained rel­e­vance in many quar­ters. In that light, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that art in the Mid­dle Ages was “made be­cause pa­trons caused it to be made.” The whim­sies and pref­er­ences of the artist mat­tered lit­tle. And the pre­dom­i­nant source of wealth and power at the time was, of course, the church. This en­light­en­ing book show­cases splen­did il­lus­tra­tions of thirty-eight iconic works from the MET’S vast col­lec­tion—al­tar­pieces, stained glass, ta­pes­tries, sculp­tures, and il­lu­mi­nated manuscripts, to name a few—next to Wendy Stein’s de­tailed dis­cus­sions of why each piece pro­vides a fun­da­men­tal un­der­stand­ing of the Judeo-chris­tian tra­di­tion and the Mid­dle Ages over­all.

MARIE-ANTOINETTE Hélène De­lalex, Alexan­dre Maral, Ni­cholas Milo­vanovic, Getty Pub­li­ca­tions Hard­cover $49.95 (216pp), 978-1-60606-483-2

Au­thored by the top cu­ra­tors at the Palace of Ver­sailles and the Lou­vre, and lav­ishly il­lus­trated as only the J. Paul Getty Trust can do, Marie-antoinette takes us on lo­ca­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence the queen’s rar­efied world: her liv­ing quar­ters, gar­dens, car­riages, fur­ni­ture, gowns, table­ware, child­hood toys, and, yes, even the hum­ble cot­ton chemise she was wear­ing when she lost her head. We learn she was a haughty diva, through ex­cerpts from her cor­re­spon­dence, and we sym­pa­thize as she ex­pe­ri­ences the Rev­o­lu­tion’s ma­ni­a­cal wrath. A re­mark­able work of his­tory, art, and sto­ry­telling.

SPEC­TAC­U­LAR IL­LU­MI­NA­TION Neon Los An­ge­les 1925–1965 Tom Zim­mer­man and J. Eric Lynxwiler, An­gel City Press, Soft­cover $35 (192pp) 978-1-62640-026-9

The happy-mak­ing in­ven­tion of neon, those gas-filled glass tubes of bril­liant color, was patented by Ge­orges Claude in France in 1910, and by 1913 a large Cin­zano ver­mouth sign il­lu­mi­nated the Paris night. A mar­keter’s dream, it may be said that neon found its true home in sprawl­ing, car-crazy Los An­ge­les, a city ex­plod­ing in pop­u­la­tion just as neon cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions of ad­ver­tis­ers in the 1920s. Of course, LA also had the comet that would be Hol­ly­wood launch­ing at about the same time—all of which led to a forty-year golden age of neon. Spec­tac­u­lar Il­lu­mi­na­tion brings to­gether more than two hun­dred vin­tage pho­tos that show­case the in­flu­ence of neon signs played out on the streets of LA. In the in­tro, the au­thors also tell a re­mark­able story about the early days of neon, how cer­tain in­dus­tries and busi­nesses em­braced the light, and the ge­nius be­hind the de­sign of the in­di­vid­ual signs.

QUEER A Graphic His­tory Meg-john Barker, Ju­lia Scheele, Icon Books, Soft­cover $17.95 (176pp), 978-1-78578-071-4

You are hereby ad­vised not to imag­ine or as­sume any­thing about this book based on its ti­tle, such is its un­ex­pected, ex­tra­or­di­nary wit and eru­di­tion. Queer’s over­ar­ch­ing goal is to dis­pas­sion­ately ex­plore how con­tem­po­rary views of sex, sex­u­al­ity, and gen­der in Western cul­ture de­vel­oped over the years, and what in­flu­ence was played by the queer move­ment in reach­ing this sta­tus quo. Lead­ing writ­ers and schol­ars of queer the­ory earn pro­files herein, and their ideas are ex­plained with­out wince-caus­ing aca­demic speak. The graphic-novel for­mat proves ex­cep­tional at ex­plor­ing iden­tity pol­i­tics, gen­der, bi­ol­ogy, priv­i­lege, ex­clu­sion, and sex­ol­ogy through a queer lens. Aha mo­ments come one right af­ter an­other. One small step for queer the­ory, this project will leap the lay­man far down the path of tol­er­ance and un­der­stand­ing.

PIERRE PAULIN Life and Work Na­dine Descen­dre, The Ven­dome Press, Hard­cover $65 (240pp), 978-0-86565-335-1

Hi­fa­lutin art snobs say that de­sign­ers don’t qual­ify as artists be­cause they’re con­strained by bud­get, pro­duc­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and the unglam­orous nuts-and-bolts parts needed to make things func­tional. In our mind, that’s like say­ing son­nets don’t qual­ify as po­etry be­cause of the rhyming. Artists cause shifts in any medium, and whether he was de­sign­ing ra­zors and fon­due pots or din­ing room sets, air­port de­par­ture lounges, and the pri­vate quar­ters of French pres­i­dents, Pierre Paulin “found a way of think­ing about de­sign which sup­planted ev­ery­thing that had gone be­fore.” His art chops are on full dis­play in the seventy sketches in­cluded in this fan­tas­tic book, along with su­perb pho­tos of popera de­signs like the Oys­ter and Or­ange Slice chairs, and the Tongue chaise lounge. Paulin up­ended mid­cen­tury de­sign in 1960s Paris, whether the snobs ad­mit it or not.

PAINT­ING THE SOUTH­ERN COAST The Art of West Fraser West Fraser, The Uni­ver­sity of South Carolina Press, Hard­cover $49.99 (272.pp) 978-1-61117-694-0

Of a mor­tal pain­ter in an un­fa­mil­iar set­ting, it is enough to ask for tech­ni­cally sound, rep­re­sen­ta­tional land­scapes, and only from a mas­ter, in the haunts and stomp­ing grounds of his home, can we ex­pect paint­ings to de­liver the soul and spirit of a place. A true son of the Low­coun­try of Amer­ica’s South­east coast, West Fraser de­scended from Carolina rice farm­ers. This im­pres­sive project show­cases 260 works from his forty-year ca­reer—paint­ings, stud­ies, and sketches, as well as orig­i­nal maps mark­ing the lo­ca­tion of each paint­ing. Es­says by the artist, and Jean Stern and Martha Sev­erens, both experts in Low­coun­try art, pro­vide just the back­ground needed to fully ap­pre­ci­ate Fraser’s sin­gu­lar tal­ent.

Im­age from Pierre Paulin, Life and Work, by Na­dine Descen­dre, re­viewed on this page. Used with per­mis­sion from The Ven­dome Press. © Archives Paulin/ pho­tog­ra­phy Na­dine Descen­dre.

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