Taschen's Tremendous Tomes

No one does books quite like Taschen. I think most book lovers can agree that a Tashcen book is a cherished book. Specializing in the archiving, history and beautiful presentation of the great bastions of popular culture, Taschen creates gorgeous tomes on art and artists, design and designers, fashion, photography, travel and architecture. Taschen is the design afficionado's ultimate book publisher. The books - their design, layout, presentation and construction - are works of art themselves.

Naturally, I subscribe to the Taschen newsletter and on my recent trip to NYC I paid a visit to the Taschen store in Soho, which is beautiful and engaging with a gallery downstairs. In the recent newsletter, several volumes were highlighted and I had to share them with readers here, since I think any fan of the art direction and layout in Martha's books and magazines will appreciate the beauty of these books, as well as their fascinating contents. (The first two are on my wish-list. The last one I have in my personal collection. All of the books can be ordered online at Taschen.com.)

A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles:

This book offers a connoisseur's overview of typeface design, exploring the most elegant fonts from the history of publishing. Taken from a distinguished Dutch collection, this exuberant two-volume edition traces the evolution of the printed letter via exquisitely designed catalogs, showing type specimens in roman, italic, bold, semi-bold, narrow, and broad fonts. Borders, ornaments, initial letters and decorations are also included, along with lithographic examples, letters by signwriters, inscription carvers, and calligraphers.

Featuring works by type designers including: William Caslon, Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke, Peter Behrens, Rudolf Koch, Eric Gill, Jan van Krimpen, Paul Renner, Jan Tschichold, A. M. Cassandre, Aldo Novarese, and Adrian Frutiger. In order to accommodate a vast amount of material, we have divided this text into two volumes. This, the second volume, covers the period from 1900 to the mid-20th century, and contains a historical outline by Alston W. Purvis. The book also includes a special card that enables you to access Taschen's online library of over 1400 high-resolution scans of type specimens, downloadable for unrestricted use.
The covers for Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2. The first explores typefaces and imprints from 1628 to 1900. The second, picks up where the first leaves off and continues until 1938. A third volume is in the works.

Architecture Now! Museums:

Star architects from Zaha Hadid to Herzog & de Meuron have shaken up the formerly staid world of museum architecture, bringing bravura to new buildings and extensions. But the trend for new museums to opt for bold contemporary architecture goes well beyond the stunning work of Renzo Piano or Tadao Ando.

Many less well-known architects have also designed remarkable places to exhibit art and artifacts. Some have provoked controversy, like Mexican architect Teodoro González de León's University Museum of Contemporary Art on the sprawling UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) campus. Others have been warmly welcomed, like the sweeping, light-filled Art Gallery of Ontario Extension by Toronto-born Frank O. Gehry, his first commission in his native city.

Others point out new horizons for reclaiming brownfield sites and reviving derelict industrial structures: Nicholas Grimshaw's conversion of a disused 1960s blast furnace into Horno 3, a welcoming extra gallery space for the Mexican city of Monterrey's Museum of Steel is a case in point. In Cartagena, Spain, Rafael Moneo's decade-long work on the Museum of the Roman Theater culminated in a structure that engages visitors in an archaeological manner, taking them on a tour of history as well as the site itself.

Here then, in the continuing Architecture Now! series, Taschen presents more than 50 projects by the major talents pushing the limits of contemporary museum design, from established masters to the latest generation of brilliant architects.

Featured architects and practices include: Hitoshi Abe, Acebo X Alonso Arquitectos, Aires Mateus, Jun Aoki, ARM, Shigeru Ban, Behnisch Architekten, David Chipperfield, Preston Scott Cohen, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Ellis Williams, Frank O. Gehry, Teodoro González de León, Graft, Nicholas Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, HOK, Arata Isozaki, KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike, Bruno Mader, Fumihiko Maki, Francisco Mangado, Richard Meier, Paolo Mendes da Rocha, Rafael Moneo, Toshiko Mori, MVRDV, Nieto Sobejano, Ryue Nishizawa, Valerio Olgiati, I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Querkraft, SANAA/Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa, Sauerbruch Hutton, Hartwig N. Schneider, Álvaro Siza Vieira and Rudolf Finsterwalder, Snøhetta, Eduardo Souto de Moura, SSM Architekten, Randall Stout, Bernard Tschumi, UNStudio, Urbanus Architecture & Design, Wang Shu, Atelier Zhang Lei

The Temple of Flora (Robert John Thornton):

The year 1799 witnessed the first installment of a work that has gone down in history as one of the most remarkable books of botanical plates ever published. Two centuries have passed since the publication of Robert John Thornton's The Temple of Flora, but its charm remains unsullied. Although trained as a medical doctor, Thornton (c. 1768–1837) passionately devoted himself to botany.

Only a few decades earlier, Carl Linnaeus had established his revolutionary new system of classification, which today continues to form the backbone of such natural sciences as botany and zoology. Thornton greatly honored the ingenious Swedish scientist and wished his own prodigious undertaking to serve as an ultimate monument to the great botanist. Today, Thornton's large-format plates with their stunning floral portraits number among supreme achievements of botanical illustration.

Thornton engaged the most renowned flower painters of his age and spared no cost in the creation of this unique work. His reckless enthusiasm, however, reduced his originally considerable fortune so drastically that, sanctioned by Parliament, Thornton had to organize a botanical lottery in order to bring his spectacular project to a provisional end.

Surviving complete editions of the Temple number today among the great treasures of only a few libraries; meanwhile, the individual plates have become sought-after and extremely expensive collectors' items, whose particular allure lies in their unusual combination of monumental, at times exotic plants with highly romantic background landscapes.

More than any other floral painting, the bewitchingly illuminated blossoms of the Night-Blooming Cereus, posed before darkening ruins, expresses the late 18th-century sentiment that in the following decades found its characteristic expression in European Romantic literature and painting.

Including all the plates of the Temple of Flora as loose-leaf color prints, this large-format edition represents a consummate reprint of the work. In addition to the botanical and cultural historical explanations of the individual plate illustrations, the volume narrates the history of the origin of the work and the life of its author. This resplendent reprint has been made from one of the finest complete original copies, belonging to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Temple of Flora consists of the following, packaged in a decorative presentation case:
  • 44-page booklet including author Werner Dressendörfer’s introduction as well as the texts of the botanical plates

  • 33 loose-leaf Elephant folio-sized color prints for browsing or framing

This is a book that I own and treasure. I first discovered it in the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine and knew immediately that I had to have it. I'm in the process of having three of the enormous prints framed for my living room.

1 comment:

Tania McCartney said...

Just gorgeous, Dreamboat. Thanks for sharing. And loving the new blush coloured wallpaper!