August book bag: from a new book of Lee Miller photographs to a ‘sexy’ publication of contemporary Indigenous art

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Antony Penrose, Lee Miller: Photographs, Thames & Hudson, £30 (hb)

Lee Miller, the model-turned-Surrealist-turned-World War II correspondent, is having a moment. A long-awaited new biopic starring Kate Winslet as Miller is due for release later this year (the multitalented Miller is often pigeonholed as Man Ray’s assistant but the new film casts her as the protagonist). Winslet has written the foreword to this new volume which, says the publisher, presents “100 of the most outstanding photographs taken by photographer, model and Surrealist muse Miller”. Her son, the photographer Antony Penrose, has compiled the image selection which includes Jean Cocteau, Palais Royal arcade, Paris, France (1944) and Picnic, Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes, France (1937).

Simon Morley, Modern Painting: A Concise History (World of Art), Thames & Hudson, 320pp, £18.99 (pb)

The art historian Simon Morley updates Herbert Read’s history of Modern painting, first published in 1959. Morley writes in the preface: “This new concise history tells a more inclusive story than Read’s, one that places painting in a broader stylistic, historical, geographical, and gender and ethnic frame.” Structured chronologically, the analysis “explores the dramatic transformations and challenges of painting over the past 250 years”, according to a publisher’s statement. The book covers areas such as “the roots of Modern Painting”, “Cubism to Dada” and “Postmodernism”. More recently added artists include Hilma af Klint, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Faith Ringgold and Banksy.

Jeffrey Gibson (ed), An Indigenous Present, Delmonico Books/Big NDN Press, 448pp, $75 (hb)

The artist Jeffrey Gibson brings Native North American contemporary artists to the fore in this survey of indigenous art exploring “concepts, forms and mediums” via more than 60 practitioners including Teresa Baker, Natalie Ball and Laakkuluk Williamson.“Historically, books about contemporary Native and Indigenous art have often been composed of academic essays illustrated with artworks by Indigenous makers. The writing often references previously published texts that can be problematic and outmoded… I wanted to make a lavish picture book (‘sexy’ was a word I used a lot to describe this project),” Gibson says in a statement. Gibson was recently announced as the US representative at the 60th Venice Biennale in 2024.

Paul Olivennes (editor-in-chief), Magma (series), Magma, 224pp, €60 (hb)

This new annual journal is in the tradition of fabled 20th-century revues d’art such as Georges Bataille’s Documents(1929) and the Surrealism tome Minotaure (1933). “These magazines offered direct access to artistic creation. They were the place for the avant-garde, both artistic and literary,” says Paul Olivennes, the founder and editor-in-chief of Magma. “I wanted to revive this format, which has now disappeared, in all its aesthetic, graphic, and intellectual sophistication.” The inaugural edition features 18 artists including Sophie Calle, Lucas Arruda and Frida Orupabo, along with more than 80 works of art and literary texts, most of them unpublished.

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture (ed), Scripts and Calligraphy: Paths to the Soul, Skira, 272pp, £43 (hb)

This comprehensive overview of Arabic calligraphy over the centuries analyses the handwriting form across four thematic categories: Light, Letter, Space and Poetry. “The project [the book accompanies an exhibition at Riyadh’s Irqah Hospital, until 23 December] gracefully interlaces classical and contemporary artworks, creating a constant dialogue between past and present,” according to a publisher’s statement. Works by more than 34 calligraphers such as Nabeel Bukhari, Bayan Barboud and Abdulrahman Elshahed feature alongside pieces by contemporary artists such as Timo Nasseri. A spokesperson for Skira says that the publisher will “release numerous titles over the next several years as the official publisher of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture”.

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