Friday, January 29, 2010

Stacks and stacks and shelves and shelves of painted books

I am really drawn to paintings of books.  Is it because of my library obsession? There is an undeniable cosiness to shelf upon shelf of books. Especially shelves that go sky high.

(When we put shelves last year in I had a crazy idea of raising the ceiling into the roof and having two levels, like a mezzanine, of shelves, a bit like something out of a Jules Verne book - you know those be-whiskered men who always have wonderful studies full of leather bound books, telescopes, globes, stuffed animals, a brandy balloon, a sextant, lots of framed maps etc. Like that. People looked at me like I was insane when I suggested it.)

I have the same feeling when I am in a bookshop, all those wonderful titles and covers, just waiting to be devoured. Or perhaps it is because really, aside from what is inside, like a magical package, the outside of a book is also often a thing of beauty.

Important note: all of the images in this post are paintings, not photographs, mostly oil or acrylic on canvas.

First up, Donald Bradford, an artist originally from California. Amongst other things, he paints piles of books and also open books.

(Stack of Books Spanish Still Life 1995)

(Open Book Francis Bacon 1995)

You can see more Donald Bradford here.

His foreshortened books make me think of this painting,  Mantegna's Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.1480). When you realise that the Gothic flat no perspective style was still being practiced over many parts of Europe at this time the revolutionary nature of this image really hits you.  Of course pedants point out that a truly foreshortened image would have meant that the feet were enormous, large enough to block the rest of the body. This is in the Brera gallery in Milan. Worth seeing in real life, as they say.

These works are by Holly Farrell. She also does paintings of hats, couches, shoes, bowls etc, which sounds mundane but is not.   See her work here.

(Gardening Books 2009)

(Cookbooks 2009)

(Books 2009)

These photorealistic paintings are by Paul Beliveau, a Canadian.  Some of his works are found here.

A painter I have posted on before is Australian Victoria Reichelt.   This is a very recent work (White Pages) which is being exhibited in Fitzroy at the Diane Tanzer Gallery

Here are some works from last year:

(Purple Haze 2009)

(Green Room 2009)

These more traditional still life style works are by Christopher Stott. He also has a blog here.

These are by Jane Mount who also sells good value prints of her work on Etsy.

If you look closely you can pick out the books, including a biography of the wonderful Bruce Chatwin.


Engracia said...

Jane, this has to be my favourite post of yours. I just love books, having them falling onto floors pretty much in the entire house. I can't stand lending them to people in case I never have them returned. So sad I know. I love Victoria's works as well, but hadn't dicovered Jane Mount, so thanks for all the gorgeous paintings you posted about.

brismod said...

Wow! I love the traditional still life paintings. But all the images are so beautiful. It makes me want to depict my pitiable bookshelf on canvas.

Dumbwit Tellher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane - Bravo, this is a brilliant post. I have never looked at paintings of books in such a light before. I love them, love them all. I would of not laughed at you with your idea of shelves of books up to the attic. I find libraries very romantic & I believe if you have an imagination, spaces filled with books just fuels that. Have you ever visited the Trinity College library in Dublin? If you have not, I am convinced that room would move you in so many ways. Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it very much. A person that reads a lot, is never a boring person, are they?!!
Cheers my dear xx deb

*sorry for the delete, should never write & watch t.v.!!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jane
Well I'm a book lover too.. books of all shapes and sizes. So therefore... naturally it follows.. i am also a bookshelf lover.. all shapes and sizes... I love your attic idea... a mezzanine level in your home would be fantastic, but who will do the dusting?

This painting of Mantegna is incredible!! I haven't seen this painting before and now must go off and google...

Thanks for the preview.. xx Julie

Mise said...

I've really enjoyed this post too, Jane, and I think you should still go ahead with your book mezzanine idea, and you'll have all the international design magazines calling. I've featured Holy Farrell's dresses in the past, and I love her books too - they have such an orderly charm, and the light is Christopher Stott's work is beautiful. I can envisage Jane Mount's paintings on my kitchen walls, so you've given me a lot to investigate here. I feel a fine book-painting obsessing morning coming on.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Dear Jane,
What fabulous paintings, all of them.
My favourites are Holly Farrell's and Christopher Stott's. You have to have something special when you can capture such reality like that.
I have always been arty but, I could never paint like that. It has to be in you when you are born.
My sister has a library in her house. They sit in there all the time and your idea of a mezzanine level library sounds brilliant and I hope one day, you do it. XXXX

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Hi Jane, These are great. My copy of Anne of Green gables looks just the same as the one in Holly Farrells beautiful painting. And I love those still lifes by Christopher Stott.
I need to rethink my book shelves too!

Laura said...

So lovely...I adore that Roy Lichtenstein image! Have you checked out the website 20x200? A fair number of book centric works at the moment if I recall...

Jane said...

Laura - Thanks for reminding me of the name I found it last year then forgot about it - it is a great website and I think they ship to Australia (UNLIKE ANTHROPOLOGIE - when oh when?) - some really lovely works (there is a lot of bad art out there on the internet!)

FTRB said...

It's so amazing to me that these are paintings! Makes me want to get out my paints and brushes - if I could only find them . . . The Mantegna reminds me of art class and how hard foreshortening is!!!

Millie said...

All so beautiful Jane - I wanted to reach into your blog, pick myself a book & go sit under a tree in the garden & devour it! A really wonderful post, thank you.
Millie ^_^

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