Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Briefly: Books

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Briefly: Books

Article excerpt

As compiled by editors of the International Herald Tribune.

This season's bonanza of art books has brought, among other things, a raft of major reference volumes of the kind that are bound to be library staples. High on the list I'd place the encyclopedic CHINESE SILKS(Yale University Press, $85). In 1998 the art historian James C. Y. Watt organized a fabulous show, "When Silk Was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles," and he contributes to the Yale book, which covers everything from nuts and bolts of sericulture to the history of silk in Chinese literature, with illustrations of scraps of ancient silk fabric brought to light by archaeology and of the most extravagant Qing dynasty imperial robes. The result, in "Chinese Silks," is book as monument.

The year was also distinguished by the appearance of two more volumes of The Image of the Black in Western Art (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press/W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, $95 per book), an epic project edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Based on image archives assembled by the art patron Dominique de Menil, the original series, published in the 1970s, consisted of several volumes that have now been reissued, with new ones added or planned. The latest addition is a fourth volume in two books, one called "Slaves and Liberators," and the other "Black Models and White Myths." The series is scheduled for completion in 2014.

Africa and African-America are the subjects of two absorbing and startling books, both catalogs for exhibitions. The first, African Cosmos: Stellar Arts (National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution and the Monacelli Press, $60), arrived with a show at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, about the centuries-old African knowledge of the Sun, Moon, stars and other heavenly spheres and their intimate connection to human life. …

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