The best books to enjoy this January

The best books to enjoy this January

15 Jan 2022

Landscapes, lighted windows and artist monographs all make our list this month

Laura Knight: A Panoramic View

Edited by Fay Blanchard and Anthony Spira (Philip Wilson Publishers, £25)

The art of Laura Knight (1877–1970) has not been fashionable for many decades, but the tide is turning with a current reassessment of her work. A new exhibition at MK Gallery (until 20 February 2022), offering the chance for a fresh generation unfamiliar with Knight’s place in the history of art to get acquainted with her oeuvre. Some 100 works are on display. And to accompany that show comes this, a book that gives an in-depth introduction to Knight, exploring why she was such a pioneer, one who paved the way for other female artists in the 20th century. She was the first woman to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy; and the first female artist to be made a Dame of the British Empire. She was a prolific painter, choosing as her subjects women, war and the sections of society that were marginalised. She was fascinated not so much with what theatre-goers might see on stage, but with life in the shadows of the wings and dusty dressing rooms. 

Richly illustrated with 160 works, this book explores Knight’s trajectory, from her training at Nottingham Art School at age 13 to her visits to traveller communities and a segregated American hospital. It features her famous ballet and circus scenes and lesser-known works – her graphics and designs for ceramics, jewellery and costumes. We learn facts behind the making of works such as The Cornish Coast of 1917, shown on the cover. Knight was to describe how she would clamber ‘along the cliff edge and over slippery rocks... carrying six-foot canvasses on my head’. Edited by Fay Blanchard, head of exhibitions at MK Gallery, and Anthony Spira, the gallery’s director, this book also includes contributions and further assessment of Knight’s art from artists such as Monster Chetwynd, Lubaina Himid and Barbara Walker. 

The Lighted Window: Evening Walks Remembered

By Peter Davidson (Bodleian Library Publishing, £25)

The allure of a lighted window spotted from the darkness beyond has long fascinated artists and writers alike. Peter Davidson distils the thrill of nocturnal wanderings in his latest book, interspersing his own experiences and imaginings while travelling throughout the country with references to Virginia Woolf, Baudelaire, Edward Hopper, Takahashi Shōtei and more. Part memoir, part cultural critique, The Lighted Window considers the many ways that an illuminated vignette has captivated the mind, offering up morbid tales, comforting respite and quiet solace. 

© Mara Leite

© Mara Leite

Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 14

Foreword by Charlie Waite (Ilex Press, £30)

Featuring amateur and professional photographers alike, the 14th edition of the Landscape Photographer of the Year book showcases the very best from the annual competition’s entries, categorised under ‘classic view’, ‘urban life’, ‘black and white’ and ‘your view’ (the most experimental section). Expect breathtaking vistas and sweeping shorelines, as well as more avant-garde views of concrete tower blocks and soaring contemporary architecture. 

Watercolor drawings, 1934. © FORM archive/Jens Risom

Risom: A Seat at the Table 

By Vicky Lowry (Phaidon, £100)

This is the first monograph of the influential Danish-American designer, whose signature chair helped launch Knoll as a household brand. Charting a career that reimagined what people’s homes and working environments could look like (and never compromising comfort in the search for style), it features sketches, blueprints, stylish photography and slick advertising campaigns, including wry phrases such as ‘in judging furniture, appearances are usually inconclusive’. Included too is his stunning prefab house on Block Island, New England, which has graced the pages of many architecture magazines.


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