Best Summer Books of 2022: Visual Arts

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20th century Indian art: Modern, Post-Independence, Contemporary
edited by Partha Mitter, Parul Dave Mukherji, Rakhee Balaram, River Thames and Hudson £85

Indian art has found an immensely impressive range of historians and commentators, and a global context, in this enormous and important scientific landmark. Micro-histories and overview, peripheries and center, colonial and postcolonial assumptions, freedoms and constraints of modernism: every tightrope is traversed with balance and insight.

Donatello: The Renaissance
edited by Francesco Caglioti, Marsilio Editori 72 €

“Life springing from stone” was Vasari’s description of Donatello’s groundbreaking naturalistic and expressive depictions of saints and men who launched Renaissance sculpture. This catalog (in English) of the unique show currently taking place at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence is both a recording and – if you can’t get there – a surrogate for its beauty and scholarship.

Matisse and the pleasure of drawing
by Christopher Lloyd, Modern Art Press €39

Matisse the master of color also aimed all his life to make drawings “with a wide variety of sensations and a minimum of means”. Lloyd unfolds the miracle of his brevity of line – in charcoal, ink, pencil, paint, cut-out gouache: how so few brands convey such supple, powerful and defining images.

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Love life: David Hockney Drawings 1963-1977
by Chris Stephens Holburne Museum/Pallas Athens £25

Handsome boys in bed, Celia in summer dresses, light filtering through the hotel windows, Vichy water and Howard’s end on a Provençal café table: Hockney’s limpid, virtuosic 1960s-70s drawings and watercolors in this decorative (limited edition) catalog of his current exhibition in Bath, are pure summer delight between candy pink covers.

Leonhart Fuchs: The New Grass
by Werner Dressendoerfer, Taschen 125 €

A Renaissance publishing masterpiece reproduced – Fuchs’ original 1543 hand-colored herbal manual illustrating 500 plants, including New World specimens such as tobacco and cactus. The botanist-physician from Tubingen set himself the goal of producing a medical guide, but he was an astonishing painter and a typical humanist in his intense observation of nature – a cheerful explorer.

Summer books 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics are sharing their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: Story by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice

Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Coffee

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