(845) 246-6944 · info@ArtTimesJournal.com

Peeks and Piques Index

Art Times HomePage

Peeks and Piques!
Favorite Art Books
ART TIMES March 2007

I’VE LOST COUNT of the art books that have crossed my desk over the past twenty years or so, each one perused (some, admittedly, more leisurely than others), some sumptuously beautiful, others less ostentatious in their aspects — but art books all, each purporting to present either the latest, or the most comprehensive, of the titled subject, some worthy of the effort, others — in my opinion — often less so. Along the way I’ve come to unconsciously judge the publishers of art books — eagerly looking forward to the newest titles of some, somewhat apprehensive of others. Not all of my “snap” judgments have been valid, of course — and, in spite of the old adage, I’ve caught myself from time to time judging books by their covers. But, some twenty-odd years is something of a track record and, by and large, you can sometimes use a cover — or a publisher — as a judge. And, in most cases, art books are handsomely produced, designed — like art — to appeal to the eye (though I continue to hold to the opinion that many oversized “coffee table” books are written about all too many overblown “artists” that do not deserve either the title or the luxury of having a book published on their behalf). Still, they come, I routinely read or delve as the case may be and, most if not all, find their way into our “New Art Books” column each issue. I try, however, not to make the effort too “routinely.” Some books can — and do — surprise me and make me sit up and take particular notice, thereby interrupting the routine to allow me to better face the next onslaught of “new releases.” I’d like to mention two such books that have recently come my way — The Intimate Eye: The Drawings of Burton Silverman (Brigham Young University) and The Art of Stanley Maltzman: Sketches and Studies in Pencil, Pastel & Watercolor (Four Corners Art Gallery). Neither of these books comes from major publishers of art books, yet both have as their subject larger-than-life talents. I’ve come to know both of these artists personally and have never found their uncommon talents to disappoint. However, what caught my eye initially was not whom these books were about, but rather their extraordinary physical beauty. I’m used to seeing luxuriously illustrated and handsomely bound books, but these were exceptional not so much for their outward appearances — their cover (!) — but for what surprises lay inside for the viewer. Neither book has excessive text, both allowing for a few words by the artists themselves but in both cases, mainly allowing the work to speak for itself. Silverman’s book, The Intimate Eye, presents reproductions from his sketchbooks, each page, printed as they are on various pastel colors and with commentary in the artist’s own hand on the opposing side, seemingly a page torn out of the actual artist sketchbook — the result, “intimate” indeed, since it is almost like looking over Silverman’s shoulder as he shares those preliminary studies — in pencil, charcoal, chalk or graphite — of subjects which are rarely seen outside the confines of the studio. As beautiful as Silverman’s book is, Stanley Maltzman’s The Art of Stanley Maltzman is, as an art form, even more exquisite. Dedicated to the memory of his wife Rachel, this book, with an introductory essay by his friend Brenda Shears, is hand produced and assembled, printed in UltraChrome Archival Inks by Kim Lorang of Visual Winds Studio on190 gm. Hahnemühle William Turner paper, and custom-bound by the Meyer Bookbinding Company in a limited edition of only 100 copies. In keeping with the thirty-odd black and white and/or color plein air nature studies from Maltzman’s hand, the pages in this book are rough-cut, each with the feel of handling an original piece of art and the term “suitable for framing” could not possibly be more apt. As far as art books go — and, as I’ve said, I receive a great many for review —I cannot recall ever seeing one more beautifully made. There are thousands of art books in my library — but these two — and the artists whose work they display — will long remain among my favorites.