Category Archives: history

African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design

By Ron Eglash (1999)

Drawing on interviews with African designers, artists, and scientists, Ron Eglash investigates fractals in African architecture, traditional hairstyling, textiles, sculpture, painting, carving, metalwork, religion, games, practical craft, quantitative techniques, and symbolic systems. He also examines the political and social implications of the existence of African fractal geometry. His book makes a unique contribution to the study of mathematics, African culture, anthropology, and computer simulations.

Posted in architecture, art, culture, design, history, science

Afrikan Alphabets: The Story of Writing in Afrika

By Saki Mafundikwa (2006)

Afrikan Alphabets will lead you to uncharted places in Afrikan cultures. This book is about the highly graphic pictographs, ideographs, and scripts devised and designed by Afrikans themselves. In Afrika, the harmony of art, nature and spirit is the rule, not the exception. In terms of the graphic arts, alphabets designed by Afrikans show that the spiritual line is free and unencumbered by the rule of the grid. Afrikan alphabets express ideas, systems of thought, cultural imperatives, aesthetic preferences, and spirit. They are one of the important keys to help unlock what has been kept hidden from so many for so long. These alphabets with their deeply meaningful graphic constructions show the intelligence and ingenuity of Afrikan peoples.

Posted in culture, design, history, language, typography

The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

By Anna Tsing (2015)

A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.

Posted in culture, history, science

Fluxus Forms: Scores, Multiples, and the Eternal Network

By Natilee Harren (2020)

While today the Fluxus collective is recognized for its radical neo-avant-garde works of performance, publishing, and relational art and its experimental, interdisciplinary approach, it was not taken seriously in its own time. With Fluxus Forms, Natilee Harren captures the magnetic energy of Fluxus activities and collaborations that emerged at the intersections of art, music, performance, and literature. The book offers insight into the nature of art in the 1960s as it traces the international development of the collective’s unique intermedia works — including event scores and Fluxbox multiples — that irreversibly expanded the boundaries of contemporary art.

Posted in art, culture, design, history, media, music, printmaking

Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews

By Arthur Taylor (1977)

Notes and Tones consists of no-holds-barred conversations which drummer Arthur Taylor held with the most influential jazz musicians of the 1960s and 70s. Free to speak their minds, these musicians offer startling insights into their music, their lives, and the creative process itself.

Posted in biography, culture, history, interview, music

The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550 – 1820


By Antony Griffiths (2016)

A landmark publication — beautifully illustrated with over 300 prints from the British Museum’s renowned collection — which traces the history of printmaking from its earliest days until the arrival of photography. Copperplate printmaking, developed alongside Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type, was a huge business employing thousands of people, and dominating image production for nearly four centuries across the whole of Europe. Its techniques and influence remained very stable until the nineteenth century, when this world was displaced by new technologies, of which photography was by far the most important. Print Before Photography examines the unrivaled importance of printmaking in its golden age, illustrated through the British Museum’s outstanding collection of prints. This unique and significant book is destined to be a leading reference in print scholarship, and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in this era of art history.

Posted in art, history, media, printmaking, technology

Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934–-2000

Edited by Elizabeth G. Seaton and Jane Myers (2015)
This highly original study offers the first comprehensive, critical overview of a company that expanded the audience for American prints, ceramics, and textiles throughout the 20th century.

Link to Illustrated Index of Associated American Artists Prints, Ceramics, and Textile Designs: AAA Index

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, printmaking

Engraving and Etching, 1400-2000: A History of the Development of Manual Intaglio Printmaking Processes

By Ad Stijnman (2012)
This book surveys the history of the techniques of engraving, etching and plate printing – i.e. that of manual intaglio printmaking processes – from its beginning in the 1430s until today. These developments are observed in the light of the coherence between the technique of the intaglio print (such as its materials and methods of production); the ‘style’ or outward appearance of the print; the creator of the print; and the fashion typical of a particular social group, place and time. Economic, educational and social aspects are discussed, as well as the worldwide dissemination of the trade of intaglio printmaking.

The author shows how intaglio printmaking developed steadily from the mid-fifteenth century, with the invention of the roller press and the etching of printing plates. By 1525 intaglio printmaking techniques could be said to have reached maturity and spread east and west following the European trade routes and colonisation. Further developments in plate-making resulted from a series of inventions and reinventions. After the abolition of the guilds on the European continent around 1800, and the introduction of photography and the expansion of the graphic industry, the engraving of images became a mere mechanical procedure. The handcrafted print made way for the large-scale mechanised graphic industry which emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century. Consequently artist-etchers withdrew to an elite position to concentrate on the manual aspects of printmaking, which is the situation today.

Posted in art, history, media, printmaking, technology

The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver, 1480-1650

Edited by Emily J. Peters with contributions by Evelyn Lincoln and Andrew Stein Raftery (2009)
Renaissance engravings are objects of exquisite beauty and incomparable intricacy that are composed entirely of lines. Artists began using this intaglio process in Europe as early as 1430. This captivating catalogue focuses on the height of the medium, from 1480 to 1650, when engravers made dramatic and rapid visual changes to engraving technique as they responded to the demands of reproducing artworks in other media. The Brilliant Line follows these visual transformations and offers new insight into the special inventiveness and technical virtuosity of Renaissance and Baroque (Early Modern) engravers. The three essays discuss how engraving’s restrictive materials and the physical process of engraving informed its visual language; the context for the spread of particular engraving styles throughout Europe; and the interests, knowledge, and skills that Renaissance viewers applied when viewing and comparing engravings by style or school.

Posted in art, exhibition, history, media, printmaking

Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century)

Edited by Steven Henry Madoff (2009)
The last explosive change in art education came nearly a century ago, when the German Bauhaus was formed. Today, dramatic changes in the art world — its increasing professionalization, the pervasive power of the art market, and fundamental shifts in art-making itself in our post-Duchampian era — combined with a revolution in information technology, raise fundamental questions about the education of today’s artists. Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century) brings together more than thirty leading international artists and art educators to reconsider the practices of art education in academic, practical, ethical, and philosophical terms. The essays in the book range over continents, histories, traditions, experiments, and fantasies of education. Accompanying the essays are conversations with such prominent artist/educators as John Baldessari, Michael Craig-Martin, Hans Haacke, and Marina Abramovic, as well as questionnaire responses from a dozen important artists — among them Mike Kelley, Ann Hamilton, Guillermo Kuitca, and Shirin Neshat — about their own experiences as students. A fascinating analysis of the architecture of major historical art schools throughout the world looks at the relationship of the principles of their designs to the principles of the pedagogy practiced within their halls. And throughout the volume, attention is paid to new initiatives and proposals about what an art school can and should be in the twenty-first century — and what it shouldn’t be. No other book on the subject covers more of the questions concerning art education today or offers more insight into the pressures, challenges, risks, and opportunities for artists and art educators in the years ahead.

Posted in art, education, history, theory