Date: Fri 25-Jun-1999

Date: Fri 25-Jun-1999

Publication: Ant

Author: CURT

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AA BOOK REVIEWS: Portugese Palissy Ware; Edgar Brandt, Master of Art Deco

Ironwork; Cowboy Culture, The Last Frontier of American Antiques; American Art


Portuguese Palissy Ware by Marshall P. Katz. Hudson Hills Press, New York, 144

pages; 159 color plates; 100 makers' marks, $75 hard cover.

By Amy D'Orio

You wouldn't eat off a painting. The same could be said of Palissy ware.

It may look like a cup or a plate, but it is truly a testament to ceramic

arts. Portuguese Palissy Ware , released in April, delves into the influence

of Bernard Palissy on Portuguese artisans and the town of Caldas da Rainha.

The book highlights the careers of Manuel Cipriano Gomes Mafra and Rafael

Bordalo Pinheiro, but also covers other major figures in the revival movement

in Portugal. From about 1853 to 1920, some 25 different factories in Portugal

produced a distinctive style of Palissy ware and the signature "moss"

background found only in the ceramics from that area. Interestingly, the

movement in Portugal, according to the author, was spawned independently from

the revival in France, which occurred a decade earlier.

While it focuses on nine different artisans, Portuguese Palissy Ware also

provides general historical background necessary to understanding the revival

movement. There are chapters on Palissy's life and times in France, as well as

the history of ceramics in Portugal. With 159 color plates, the book is

gorgeously illustrated and provides 100 makers' marks, a glossary, and

technical and pricing information.

Katz, who lives in Pittsburgh, is also a scholar of Palissy ware. He is the

co-author of Palissy Ware: Nineteenth-Century French Ceramists from Avisseau

to Renoleau .

Edgar Brandt: Master of Art Deco Ironwork by Joan Kahr. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.,

100 Fifth Avenue, N.Y., 10011, 240 pages, 232 illustrations, $60 hard cover .

By Amy D'Orio

Part of the mystique and charm of Paris lies with its architecture, and Edgar

Brandt certainly embellished the City of Lights with his great works of iron.

From Paul Poiret's house of couture to the Au Bon Marche department store to

the Louvre, Brandt's work is in full view for the world to see -- no admission

fee necessary. Released in April, this book is the first to focus on the world

famous Art Deco ironsmith.

Brandt (1880-1960) is credited with creating "an entirely new aesthetic for

the medium of wrought iron" that epitomizes Art Deco style. The author

stresses that Brandt was a virtuoso at using several materials, often

combining wrought iron with bronze or steel and patinating with gold and

silver. During his day, the craftsman operated a large showroom in Paris,

offering everything from grilles and fire screens to lamps, doors and tables.

Kahr not only conducted extensive interviews with the family, but Brandt's

son, Francois, writes a glowing introduction to the book, noting the author's

enthusiasm for his father's work:

"Relying on her considerable artistic sensibilities, her vision, and her

style, she has been able to analyze his work in such a way as to allow its

spirit to be revealed and explained. She has done honor and justice to my

father's memory."

Edgar Brandt also contains numerous illustrations, 60 in full color, and rare

period photographs.

Kahr has a master's degree in European decorative arts and specializes in

early Twentieth Century design. She has been a regular contributor to

Metalsmith magazine and has lectured specifically on French ironwork.

Cowboy Culture: The Last Frontier of American Antiques by Michael Friedman.

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd, 4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, Pa., 19310, 298

pages, $79.95 hardcover.

By Amy D'Orio

With a revised price guide, Michael Friedman takes on great Western

collectibles such as saddles, spurs, boots and guns in this second edition of

Cowboy Culture , released by Schiffer Publishing.

The author, a Connecticut resident, is an American antiques dealer

specializing in early American furniture and folk art. He notes in his preface

that the majority of cowboys were poor, and thus did not own many possessions,

often making their own "embellishments and decorations."

"[H]ere we find folk art of the common man," he writes.

Each of the book's 24 chapters focuses on a different item and showcases

objects from private collections, including Friedman's own. These sections

feature approximately a page of text for the reader, followed by numerous

color photographs of collectibles. Captions containing nuggets of information

are provided under each image, along with an approximate value.

Perhaps the most extensive chapter features saddles, and contains five

sections entitled: "Miniatures," "Vaquero," "Saddlebags," "Rope," and

"Ortega." A chapter on badges has "star" power, but none of the badges shown

had bullet holes -- maybe the outlaws weren't such good shots.

A chapter on bits was short, and two focusing on boots and hats seemed short

only because they were so much fun to peruse. A chapter on gambling

collectibles showcases some pretty fancy poker chips; it is a good bet this

revised edition would interest just about any American.

American Art Deco by Alastair Duncan. Thames and Hudson, Inc, 500 Fifth

Avenue, N.Y., 10110, pp 288, $34.95 paperback.

By Amy D'Orio

If you couldn't afford it in hard cover, Thames and Hudson has now released

American Art Deco in paperback.

The book covers the most important decorative style of the late 1920s and 30s

and its influence in America, with chapters on architecture, sculpture,

furniture, textiles, ceramics, silver, graphic arts and jewelry, lighting and

clocks, silver and industrial design. It also focuses on artists such as

Donald Deskey, Paul Manship, Walter von Nessen, Gilber Rohde, Russel Wright,

and others.

Duncan, an independent consultant specializing in the decorative arts of the

Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, discusses the dramatic effect of the 1929

stock market crash on Art Deco design in the United States, one which created

the new profession of the industrial designer to "restimulate" consumer buying

in the 1930s.

The American contribution of the skyscraper also cannot be ignored when

discussing Art Deco history. But despite its part in this important movement,

the author notes -- surprisingly -- that this country did not initially greet

Modernism with enthusiasm.

Although it contains 502 illustrations (233 of them in color), this is not

just a book full of pretty pictures. The pages of American Art Deco are chock

full of information for eager fans of this movement.