5 New Biographies

dalis moustaches.jpg
Dali’s Moustaches: An Act of Homage by Boris Frieldwald
(7 Nov 2016)
This original and utterly captivating celebration of Salvador Dali s life and career traces the countless, often outrageous, ways the artist employed his moustache to brilliant effect. Whether curled into a figure 8 or splayed like a cat s whiskers, Dali s moustache is arguably the world s most famous facial hair. But when asked to explain why he styled it in such bizarre and seemingly comic fashion, the artist remarked that his moustache was the most serious part of his personality. In this book, Boris Friedewald tells the life story of the renowned Spanish Surrealist through the various moustache styles he had throughout his life. Dali cultivated his moustaches he staged them and had them photographed. But these were more than mere vanity projects. Dali s evolving facial hair signifies certain points in the artist s own metamorphosis and was a kind of antenna of his metaphysical inspiration. Illustrated with many intriguing photographs of the artist and his ever-changing moustache, this book describes how Dali cared for and styled his facial hair, and shows how it influenced many artists in his wake from Ringo Starr to Lady Gaga. Filled with anecdotes and engaging commentary about Dali s work, this book offers readers a fascinating new way of looking at the artist, his life, and his legacy.

eye of the beholder
Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leewenhoek and The Reinvention of Seeing by Laura J. Snyder (1 Dec 2016)
By the early 17th century the Scientific Revolution was well under way. Philosophers and scientists were throwing off the yoke of ancient authority to peer at nature and the cosmos through microscopes and telescopes.

In October 1632, in the small town of Delft in the Dutch Republic, two geniuses were born who would bring about a seismic shift in the idea of what it meant to see the world. One was Johannes Vermeer, whose experiments with lenses and a camera obscura taught him how we see under different conditions of light and helped him create the most luminous works of art ever beheld. The other was Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, whose work with microscopes revealed a previously unimagined realm of minuscule creatures.

By intertwining the biographies of these two men, Laura Snyder tells the story of a historical moment in both art and science that revolutionized how we see the world today.

the january man
The January Man: A Year of Walking Britain by Christopher Somerville
(12 Jan 2017)
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again – a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son; and this ‘ghost’ of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it – and how and why I walk myself.

The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather.

This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.

TheMistressOfParis
The Mistress of Paris: The 19th Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret by Catherine Hewitt (24 Jan 2017)
Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne was a celebrated nineteenth-century Parisian courtesan. She was painted by Manet and inspired Emile Zola, who immortalized her in his scandalous novel “Nana.” Her rumored affairs with Napoleon III and the future Edward VII kept gossip columns full.

But her glamorous existence hid a dark secret: she was no Comtesse. She was born into abject poverty, raised on a squalid Paris backstreet; the lowest of the low. Yet she transformed herself into an enchantress who possessed a small fortune, three mansions, fabulous carriages, and art that drew the envy of connoisseurs across France and Europe. A consummate show-woman, she ensured that her life and even her death remained shrouded in just enough mystery to keep her audience hungry for more.

Catherine Hewitt s biography, ” The Mistress of Paris,” tells the forgotten story of a remarkable French woman who, though her roots were lowly, never stopped aiming high.”

rise of the rocket girls.jpg
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (26 Jan 2017)
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible. Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women–known as “human computers”–who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews, Nathalia Holt offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we’ve been, and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s