This review is dedicated to Thea, Pax, Joanie, and Buster—some of P&P’s canine friends. We like having dogs around. Even the most diehard cat fans among us agree that it makes the workday a little easier to get through when there is a friendly (furry) face and a cold nose nearby. Dogs have a unique way of making us happy, even when we don’t want to be, even when we don’t think we can be happy. Maira Kalman got her dog Pete when her husband Tibor was dying. It seemed like a bad idea for someone who had always been afraid of dogs. But somewhere in a “remote part” of her brain, she knew a dog would help her family get through their tragedy. She was right, he did. Having Pete revealed a new world of unconditional love, humor, comfort, and fun that she had never known before. Beloved Dog (Penguin Press, $29.95) is Kalman’s tribute to Pete and to the dogs that she has drawn and written about throughout her career.
World-renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy, OBE, has been creating sculptures from natural materials in natural conditions for more than three decades. Using only what he finds in nature—his “collaborator”—he sculpts artworks from earth, stones, leaves, flowers, icicles, pinecones, snow, twigs, or thorns, meticulously and intricately arranged, delicately placed and balanced, often incorporating the evanescent qualities of sunlight and shadow, and, intrinsically, the elemental forces that will effect their decay and disarrangement—wind, sun, ocean or river or rain, and, most of all, time. We perceive a deeper spirituality in these works, beyond their beauty and craft and labor. We are lucky that Goldsworthy documents these artworks in his photographs, works of art in themselves. The beautiful new showcase, Andy Goldsworthy: Ephemeral Works: 2004—2014 (Abrams, $85), features more than two hundred full-color plates of works from the recent decade. Arranged in chronological sequence, the exhibit yields a sense of time unfolding and receding as one turns the pages. This is a worthy addition to any Goldsworthy collection, or to any art book collection, indeed.
Al Hirschfeld’s pen lines—swooping, curling, and twisting—could distill a famous face to its calligraphic essence and make gestures dance on the page. His career began with Goldwyn Studios movie posters in the 1920s, and he was still doing his iconic theater drawings for The New York Times (where he worked for over seventy years) into the new millennium. As for chronicling American entertainment—whether theater, movies, or television, in newspapers, on magazine covers or record jackets—it was The Hirschfeld Century (Knopf, $40). The book is organized by decades, with text by Hirschfeld Foundation archivist David Leopold—who curated the accompanying New York Historical Society exhibit this year. You see the breadth of Hirschfeld’s early work, and watch his characteristic line emerge around 1930 (among his influences: Japanese woodcuts, Vanity Fair caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias, and a trip to Bali). As you leaf through the pages, you are also a witness to American theater history, since Hirschfeld drew every out-of-town preview in time for a Broadway opening. This beautifully produced book is the most complete and insightful work on Hirschfeld yet.