New & Featured Publications
Spring & Summer 2012
Elegant Perfection: Masterpieces of Courtly and Religious Art from the Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum staff; contributions by Melissa McCormick
As the oldest and largest museum in Japan, the Tokyo National Museum houses a vast collection of culturally important artworks. Elegant Perfection highlights 26 masterpieces from this esteemed collection that are on loan to the MFAH, to celebrate the opening of the Arts of Japan Gallery. Together, these objects tell the story of the country’s artistic development from the prehistoric Jō mon era through the 19th century. This publication offers a rare opportunity to discover the history and significance of these treasured works of art.
Resisting Categories: Latin American and/or Latino? Critical Documents of 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art, Volume 1
Mari Carmen Ramírez, Héctor Olea, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto
“Judging by the first book . . . the series is an extraordinary editorial accomplishment.” —New York Times
The terms “Latin American” and “Latino” have been used broadly to describe artists from a number of different countries, races, and cultures. Yet these reductive terms fail to clearly define these artists, who ultimately resist categorization. This comprehensive volume brings to light more than 170 crucial texts written by influential artists and critics who explore these identities. The selected writings, many of which have never before been published in English, span from the late 19th century to the present day, and include texts by such luminaries as David Alfaro Siqueiros, Joaquín Torres-García, Jorge Luis Borges, Marta Traba, and Luis Camnitzer.
Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics:
The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection
Garth Clark and Cindi Strauss, with Glenn Adamson, Mark Del Vecchio, Ezra Shales, and Jorunn Veiteberg
As gallerists and collectors, Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio have helped shape the field of ceramics by expanding notions of the medium’s possibilities. This comprehensive catalogue features, for the first time in its entirety, their esteemed collection of ceramics, acquired by the MFAH in 2007. In compelling essays, Clark and Del Vecchio relate their experiences in building the collection, and other scholars examine the various facets of contemporary ceramics. With detailed entries on 125 featured works, an illustrated checklist of the collection, and artists’ biographies, this book serves as a touchstone reference.
Elegance and Refinement: The Still-Life Paintings of Willem van Aelst
Tanya Paul, James Clifton, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Julie Berger Hochstrasser, Melanie Gifford, Anikó Bezur, Andrea Guidi di Bagno, and Lisha Deming Glinsman
Dutch still-life paintings approached the height of their popularity during the latter part of the 17th century, and few artists were more skilled at depicting luxury objects and spoils of the hunt than Willem van Aelst. This beautifully illustrated catalogue accompanies the first-ever exhibition devoted solely to Van Aelst’s artistic career and accomplishments, and places the artist in the context of the four artistic centers in which he worked: Delft, Paris, Florence, and Amsterdam. Through new photography—including an abundance of photographic details—and research, this publication conveys the experience of seeing Van Aelst’s paintings in person and observing his virtuoso brushwork at close hand.
Utopia/Dystopia: Construction and Destruction in Photography and Collage
Yasufumi Nakamori, with Graham Bader
From the time of its invention, photography has enabled artists not only to capture the world around them but also to create worlds of their own. Utopia/Dystopia investigates how artists from the late 19th century to the present have used photographic fragments or techniques to represent political, social, or cultural states of utopia or dystopia. The resulting photographs, photocollages, photomontages, and other creations question the validity of seamless pictorial images, and attempt to dismantle the notion of photography as an objective medium. This publication features approximately 45 exemplary works along with essays that offer new ways of thinking about photography's uses and implications.
Modern and Contemporary Masterworks from Malba - Fundación Costantini
Mari Carmen Ramírez, with Marcelo E. Pacheco
In 2001, Eduardo Costantini, the founder of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba), began collecting artworks from across Latin America. Today, the renowned Colleción Costantini consists of more than 200 works, encompassing drawings, paintings, sculptures, and objects by 78 artists. In the spirit of cultural exchange, Malba and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) at the MFAH join together to exhibit 50 of these works, spanning the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Among the celebrated artists represented in this beautiful book are Frida Kahlo, Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta, and Diego Rivera.
Unrivalled Splendor: The Kimiko and John Powers Collection of Japanese Art
Introduction by Christine Starkman, essay by Miyeko Murase, and entries by John M. Rosenfield
Over the past four decades, Kimiko and John Powers amassed what has become recognized as the premier collection of Japanese art in the United States. The Powers Collection contains 300 works of art, including 17th- and 18th-century scholarly paintings, hanging scrolls, Buddhist wood and lacquer sculptures, calligraphy, and illuminated documents. Unrivalled Splendor showcases more than 80 artworks from this vaunted collection through color illustrations, along with scholarly research that reveals the full story of Japan’s artistic development and its enduring cultural heritage.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Odyssey
Christine Starkman; contributions by Cai Guo-Qiang and Susan Stewart
This commemorative book traces the creation of Odyssey, a monumental work by internationally acclaimed artist Cai Guo-Qiang (born 1957) installed in the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Arts of China Gallery at the MFAH. Cai produced Odyssey with the help of more than 100 volunteers over five days in October 2010. Photographs documenting the process demonstrate Cai’s working methods and the level of community involvement. Accompanying essays analyze Odyssey as a singular work of art, as a portal to the gallery and its other artworks, and as a collaboration among the artist, museum, and communities in Houston.
Untangling the Web: Gego's Reticulárea, An Anthology of Critical Response
Edited by María Elena Huizi and Ester Crespín
Introduction by Mari Carmen Ramírez
One of the most influential Latin American artists of her day, Gego (1912–1994) pioneered a new direction in art with her innovative sculptures. Exploring the concept of the line, space, and time, she linked pieces of metal to create weblike geometric forms. These experiments culminated in Reticulárea, a massive netlike sculptural installation first presented at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, in 1969. Centered on the various iterations of this work and its artistic impact, this anthology—published on the one-hundredth anniversary of Gego’s birth—brings together images as well as documentary materials and primary texts in English and Spanish by artists, writers, and Gego.
Other Notable Publications
The Spirit of Modernism: The John R. Eckel, Jr. Gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Christine Gervais, Emily Ballew Neff, and Alison de Lima Greene, with Douglas Lawing and David S. Eckel
This small book explores the extraordinary collection of Houston businessman and philanthropist John R. Eckel, Jr. (1951–2009). Eckel’s paintings, sculptures, photographs, and mid-century decorative arts reflect a fascination with the ways Machine Age America inspired modern artists. Published on the occasion of an exhibition at the MFAH (August 20, 2011–January 29, 2012), the catalogue includes contributions by MFAH curators Christine Gervais, Emily Ballew Neff, and Alison de Lima Greene, and Douglas Lawing and David S. Eckel provide personal reflections.
Exclusive Web Feature
Read about the MFAH Edward J Wormley Archive, a gift of the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation.
Czech Avant-Garde Art and Modern Glass from the Roy and Mary Cullen Collection
Karel Srp and Lenka Bydzovská, with Alison de Lima Greene and Jan Mergl
In 1928 Czech artists Jindrich Štyrský and Toyen published the Artificielismus (Artificialism) manifesto, calling for "new formations" in contemporary art. The term aptly reflects the spirit of adventure that Houston philanthropists Roy and Mary Cullen brought to forming a comprehensive collection devoted to the radical developments of Czech art in the first decades of the 20th century. New Formations: Czech Avant-Garde Art and Modern Glass from the Roy and Mary Cullen Collection profiles this endeavor, highlighting more than 150 examples from this extraordinary collection, which encompasses paintings, drawings, prints, collages, photographs, artist-produced books, and rare examples of modern glass.
The Glassell Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston:
Masterworks of Pre-Columbian, Indonesian, and African Gold
One of the world’s top hundred art collectors, Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. (1913–2008), was fascinated by the spiritual significance that gold held in many ancient cultures. Over the years, he acquired an astonishing number of artworks, assembling the largest privately held collection of Pre-Columbian gold, which he bequeathed to the MFAH. Spanning 2000 BC to AD 1600, these precious objects reflect a variety of cultures, such as the Calima, Quimbaya, Sicán, Moché, and Coclé, and a range of geographic locations, from Mexico to Argentina and from Africa to Indonesia. This book explores 200 of these dazzling works, many published here for the first time.
White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes
June Newton, Peter C. Marzio, Anne Wilkes Tucker, Pierre Bergé, Anna Wintour, Josephine Hart, Karl Lagerfeld, and Manfred Heiting
Helmut Newton's first three books—White Women (1976), Sleepless Nights (1978), and Big Nudes (1981)—established Newton's reputation as the supreme recorder of female identity, and a master photographer. This catalogue is available exclusively at the MFAH Shop.
Carlos Cruz-Diez: Color in Space and Time
Mari Carmen Ramírez and Héctor Olea
"With superb production standards, the book packs a perceptual punch in its own right." —Los Angeles Times
Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (born 1923) is one of the greatest artistic innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries. Best known for experimenting with light and movement, and for stimulating the dialogue between the stable and unstable use of color, his pieces engage viewers on a multisensory level. This monumental volume traces the full trajectory of the artist's career, from early, rarely published figurative works, to interactive series that continue to this day, to architectural projects in public spaces around the world.
American Art & Philanthropy:
Twenty Years of Collecting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Peter C. Marzio
The American art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has grown significantly over the past two decades and reached new heights with such spectacular recent acquisitions as Albert Bierstadt’s Indians Spear Fishing and Frank Stella’s Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation III). Along with showcasing artworks from the colonial period to the present, this beautiful and inspiring book explores the museum’s mission of collection-building and how it is exemplified by the generosity of its donors. American Art & Philanthropy is the last book conceived and written by Peter Marzio, who served as director of the museum from 1982 until his death in 2010.
Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture
Photographs by Ishimoto Yasuhiro
Winner of the Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions
Click here for a Q&A with the author.
“At Katsura, claimed Bruno Taut, 'the eyes think.' This new edition exquisitely illustrates an idea that, from the start, guided Ishimoto’s art.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
Spurred by an exploration of the 1960 art book Katsura: Tradition and Creation of Japanese Architecture, this new publication argues that architect Tange Kenzo, who provided an essay for the original book, altered Ishimoto Yasuhiro’s original photographs in a substantial way. Yasufumi Nakamori provides a fresh and critical look at the nature of the collaboration between Tange and Ishimoto, exploring how their words and images helped establish a new direction in modern Japanese architecture. The book serves as an important contribution to the growing scholarly field of post-1945 Japanese art, in particular the juncture of photography and architecture.
For more information, contact the MFAH Publications Department at 713.639.7510.
To purchase books, contact the MFAH Shop at 713.639.7360.