Summer Page-Turners


Paris: Life & Luxury in the 18th Century
Edited by Charissa Bremer-David
Getty $45


The reign of French king Louis XV, from 1723 to 1774, was defined by extravagance, and the opulent arts of the era can look outlandish when placed in stark museum displays. This volume situates the fine art, fashion, furniture, and quotidian objects of the Parisian elite within lavish period settings, so that the sumptuous photographs, like the accompanying essays, can shed light on the social context of these luxury goods. Editor and essayist Charissa Bremer-David — curator of the Getty Museum exhibition that this book accompanies — reveals much about the ideas and attitudes of 18th-century Parisian society through the magnificent relics it left behind. But be warned: These tales of the leisurely lives of French aristocrats, from their morning toilettes to their after-dark dalliances, may elicit pangs of envy. — JH


By Florence Camard
Rizzoli $150


If you can’t own an armoire by Jacques Emile Ruhlmann, you could do worse than dress up your coffee table or bookshelf with this exhaustive, 500-plus-page tome on the master of Art Deco. Carrying on the French tradition of richly appointed private quarters (and ignoring the modernist dictum that contemporary design should be available to all), Ruhlmann — sometimes referred to as Emile-Jacques — created interiors for the Parisian salon set of the 1920s and ’30s that married traditional craftsmanship and luxe materials like ebony and shagreen with mannered shapes and modern grace. Today they make frequent appearances as top lots at design auctions. Here, his wide array of creations are analyzed by Florence Camard, the leading Ruhlmann authority, who has meticulously catalogued his "vast, unified, and indivisible body of work." — SPH

Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s
By Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Henry Holt $27

Packed with boldfaced art world names, this anecdotal history might as well be subtitled "The boys of Ferrus Gallery." From the opening chapter — describing the heady week in 1963 when Andy Warhol had his third solo gallery show at Ferrus and Marcel Duchamp opened his first retrospective, organized by one of the gallery’s founders, Pasadena Art Museum curator Walter Hopps — the book defines that legendary space as the epicenter of SoCal cool. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, who has written about the scene for decades, works in all the key figures, from the artists John Baldessari, Ed Kieholz, and Ed Ruscha to the crucial dealer Irving Blum, a seemingly omnipresent Dennis Hopper, and countless supporting collectors. This action-packed tome is the perfect preparation for next fall’s Pacific Standard Time festival of museum shows celebrating the Southland art scene in the postwar years. — EB

Portrait Jewels: Opulence & Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs
By Diana Scarisbrick
Thames & Hudson $45

Portrait miniatures are most often thought of as mementos held dear by loved ones, but as the art historian Diane Scarisbrick describes here, they also served for more than 500 years as public emblems. Combining the traditions of the minted coin and the illuminated manuscript, colorful paintings on velum were placed under crystal — or in rare cases diamond — to be bestowed by rulers as diplomatic gifts and symbols of political allegiance. Laid out chronologically, this book traces not only the various roles played by the three hundred or so examples but also the shifting tastes in jewelry design reflected in the often ornate settings. — EB

Gerhard Richter: Landscapes
By Dietmar Elger
Hatje Cantz/DAP $60

Landscape is an abiding passion for Gerhard Richter. Since the 1960s the painter has treated the subject in varied styles to investigate his central theme of truth. Sometimes veiled in mist, his natural spaces generally seem distant, beyond the viewer’s grasp. Although his canvases often convey a romantic sense of fading beauty, he considers them essentially dishonest for reflecting the "glorifying way we look at nature — nature, which in all its forms is against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy." This new edition, with text by the director of the Richter Archive, Dietmar Elger, offers the definitive survey with a fully up-to-date selection of images. — EB

Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Ejik van Otterloo Collection
By Frederik J. Duparc and others
Yale $65

After some years of undisciplined art buying, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo embarked on a collaboration with their adviser, Simon Levie, the former director of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, with the aim of assembling a group of works representing the golden age of art in the Low Countries. Nearly two decades later, the Boston couple achieved something very close to that daunting goal with 67 paintings, including portraits by Rembrandt and Frans Hals, still lifes by Willem van Aelst and Balthasar van der Ast, and seascapes by Jan van de Cappelle and Jan Porcellis. To celebrate, a tour was planned — the works depart the Peabody Essex this month for San Francisco and Houston — accompanied by this catalogue, filled with eminently readable connoisseurship by Frederik J. Duparc, formerly of the Mauritshuis, in The Hague. — EB