The environment is on everyone’s mind, one way or other, whether it is a subject that invites debate or advocacy—or terror. This fall’s books—especially in architecture but also in other, subtler contexts—will keep the environment front and center.
First, the issue of green buildings. The actor and activist Robert Redford appends a foreword to Sheri Koones’s Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid, which makes the case for prefabricated homes being affordable and energy efficient, offering 30 house plans. This is a follow-up to Koones’s earlier Abrams title, Prefabulous + Sustainable. If you’re not a DIYer, you can graze for architectural help in 1000 Tips by 100 Eco Architects: Guidelines on Sustainable Architecture from the World’s Leading Eco-Architecture Firms from Firefly by Mara Serrats (who incidentally has also written about prefab housing). Notable about 1000 Tips are the number of recommendations for making the construction process itself nondestructive to the environment. Princeton Architectural Press is also on the case, with professor of architecture Peggy Tully’s From the Ground Up: Innovative Green Homes, in which Tully looks at the evolution of that American wonder, the single-family home. The great Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs are being reassessed in the light of the environment-minded building movement, since Wright’s simplicity and sensible organizations of life and spaces offers much to learn, in Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture: Lessons for Building Green from an American Original by Alan Hess.
From a different angle—that of the angler—comes James Prosek’s Ocean Fishes: Paintings of Saltwater Fish. Prosek, who is a naturalist and adventurer, but also a very good writer and painter, has traveled the world fishing its oceans, and in Ocean Fishes paints a picture, in words and images, that is beautiful and yet alarming. As the publisher says, this book contains the author’s “quiet conservation statement.”
Two great novelists are heard from in nonfiction books with art themes. Nobelist Orham Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects is about the author’s amazing collection of objects, which are on display in his Museum of Innocence in his hometown of Istanbul. This is a most audacious and provocative take on the history of Turkish culture and politics by Turkey’s best-known dissenter. And the late John Updike reappears in a third collection of his art writings, Always Looking, edited by Christopher Carduff.
Every few years, it seems, a biography of a great artist does very well—Van Gogh last year; before that Matisse; before that Pollock; and so on. There are big master bios this fall, but among the most notable is Sheila Hale’s Titian: His Life, coming from Harper. Hale has spent 10 years on the book, and it will be first biography of Titian in over a century. And Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter, on the recently deceased Lucian Freud, by Geordie Greig, promises to be juicy—Greig edits a British tabloid.
Finally, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Isn’t he indeed the granddaddy of lots of today’s fantasists? His original drawings for the book—he was an artist too—are arrayed in The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Perhaps we should build new homes in Middle Earth…
PW's Top 10: Art & Architecture
Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home by Sheri Koones, foreword by Robert Redford. Abrams, Oct.
1000 Tips by 100 Eco Architects: Guidelines on Sustainable Architecture from the World’s Leading Eco-Architecture Firms by Marta Serrats. Firefly Books, Aug.
From the Ground Up: Innovative Green Homes by Peggy Tully. Princeton Architectural Press, Oct.
Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture: Lessons for Building Green from an American Original by Alan Hess, photos by Allen Weintraub. Rizzoli, Oct.
Ocean Fishes: Paintings of Saltwater Fish by James Prosek, foreword by Peter Matthiessen. Rizzoli, Oct.
The Innocence of Objects by Orhan Pamuk. Abrams, Oct.
Always Looking: Essays on Art by John Updike, edited by Christopher Carduff. Knopf, Nov.
Titian: His Life by Sheila Hale. Harper, Nov.
Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter by Geordie Greig. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Oct.
The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept.
Read and sort all our picks from this fall's art &architecture titles in the spreadsheet below: