What we’re loving this summer: art books and exhibitions hand-picked by our specialists

From mnemonic architecture in Venice to the clay masks of Ruth Asawa in California, Christie’s specialists advise where to go and what to read on the way

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Top left to right: Paul McCarthy, The Sound of Music (video still), 2001/2008. Video on DVD and Digi-Beta submaster. Duration: 175:00 min. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth © Paul McCarthy; Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians by Anna Reynolds, published by Royal Collection Trust; Camille Henrot, Family of Men, 2022. Bronze. 129⅞ x 98⅜ in (330 x 250 cm). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth © Camille Henrot; Bottom left to right: Mini-mantua dress (puff dress) from the Moschino Ready to Wear Fall 2020 collection (Look 35 SS2020), exhibited the Crown to Couture exhibition 2023. Photograph by Claire Collins © Historic Royal Palaces / Moschino; Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978, edited by Idurre Alonso, published by the Getty Research Institute; The Faces of Ruth Asawa at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Photograph by Glen Cheriton; Cartier: Beautés du Monde: High Jewelry and Precious Objects, by François Chaille and Alberto Cavalli, published by Flammarion

Alfredo Boulton: Looking at VenezuelaBook selected by Charles Foley, Specialist, Wine and Spirits

‘Exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1946, Alfredo Boulton was an auteur photographer of equal class to Henri Cartier-Bresson or Richard Avedon. His pictorial and kinetic photographs of life in early 20th-century Venezuela are sensational. ‘There is a Mapplethorpe style homoerotic charge to the images, a charming feel of a world that has silently slipped by and a balletic sense of movement and energy. Edited by Idurre Alonso, this major volume on the shockingly little known South American photographer dovetails with an upcoming exhibition at the Getty Center.’ Published by Getty Publishing, 2023
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Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978, edited by Idurre Alonso, published by the Getty Research Institute

Gruppenausstellung Exhibition selected by Mei Y Giam, Director of Private Sales, Jewellery

‘The Somerset outpost of Hauser & Wirth, located in a former farmstead in charming Bruton, is a favourite of mine. The clean, idyllic setting is perfect to stage art and the current exhibition is pure fun, bringing continental Europe to the English countryside. It is a bright and colourful multidisciplinary presentation from 20 different artists, including Nicole Eisenman, Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman and Rashid Johnson. The group presentation shows off their avant-garde, innovative ideas and concepts — titillating and amusing.’On view at Hauser & Wirth Somerset UK, through 1 Jan 2024
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Installation view of GRUPPENAUSSTELLUNG, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2023. Photograph by Ken Adlard. Courtesy the artists and Hauser & Wirth

The Faces of Ruth AsawaExhibition selected by Andrew Lueck, Specialist, Chinese Works of Art

‘Most people know the artist Ruth Asawa for her intricate woven wire hanging sculptures, but she also worked in many other mediums. Asawa produced many pieces in clay, including 400 clay ‘‘life masks’’ of friends and family that she displayed at the entrance to her San Francisco home. Now 233 of the masks are on view at the Cantor, expertly curated by Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, PhD.’
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The Faces of Ruth Asawa at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Photograph by Glen Cheriton

‘Accompanying the exhibition are three pots thrown by Asawa’s son, the ceramicist Paul Lanier. The pots were a last wish of Asawa’s — that her earthly remains be united in the clay with those of her late husband, Albert, and son Adam. This exhibition is an intimate and unique experience that is well worth the trip. ’

On view at Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, ongoing

Sayed Haider RazaBook selected by Nishad Avari, Head of South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

‘Published in conjunction with the recent retrospective S.H. Raza (1922-2016) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, this major monograph edited by Ashok Vajpayee includes contributions from Homi Bhabha, Yashodhara Dalmia, Roobina Karode, Ashvin Rajagopalan and Gayatri Sinha that shine new light on the life and career of one of India’s foremost modern artists.’
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Sayed Haider Raza, edited by Ashok Vajpeyi, published by Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, in association with The Raza Foundation, New Delhi

Raza’s own writings, extracts from his notebooks, correspondence with other artists and critical reviews of his work dating back to the 1940s add to the book’s comprehensive presentation. With illustrations of over 100 works, including previously undocumented ones from French and Swiss museum collections, this book is not only a joy to read, but a critical reference resource as well.’

Published by Mapin Publishing, 2023

Global Ikat: Roots and Routes of a Textile TechniqueBook selected by Louise Broadhurst, International Head of Rugs & Carpets

‘The recent publication Global Ikat: Roots and Routes of a Textile Technique, by Polly Barton, Sumru Belger Krody, Shelley Burian, Duncan Clarke, Rosemary Crill, Martina D’Amato, Linda S. McIntosh and Lee Talbot, is a joyous collaboration between some of the leading experts and offers a comprehensive guide to ikat, one of the most immediately recognisable and colourful forms of textile art.’
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Global Ikat: Roots and Routes of a Textile Technique, published by Hall Publications Limited, in association with The Raza Foundation, New Delhi

‘This volume covers the history of these blurred, jagged patterns across a number of continents and discusses their social functions as both garments and furnishings, which were even more important than their beauty or utilitarian purposes. A fascinating read with tremendous variety, the book carries you on a journey along the silk route and beyond and is a testimony to the designers’ ambitious artistic goals.’

Published by The Historic Textile Research Foundation in collaboration with Hali Publications, 2023

Crown to CoutureExhibition selected by Charles Foley, Specialist, Wine and Spirits

‘Fresh. Fun. Flashy. Kensington Palace, famed for housing Royal aunties and uncles and at one time, Princess Diana, has plunged headlong into haute couture. Beyoncé’s golden high priestess of pregnancy dress is flanked by Beefeaters. Lady Gaga’s horned mask rests next to Royal masquerade wear. Chandelier gowns, campery and crinoline abound. This fabulous exhibition is Met Gala meets majesty.’ On view at Kensington Palace, London, through 29 October 2023
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Couture dress and coat by Thom Browne worn by Lizzo to Met Gala 2022. Photograph by Claire Collins. © Historic Royal Palaces / Courtesy of Thom Browne

Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule BreakerExhibition selected by Jonquil O’Reilly, Specialist, Old Masters

‘I had very high expectations for this exhibition but it still knocked my socks off. It explores the life and career of Lavinia Fontana, a 16th-century Bolognese painter who was the first woman artist to run her own workshop. Alongside her paintings are textiles and objects complimenting those seen in painted form, placing her works in context. They even have her marriage contract, which stipulates all the requirements of her husband to allow her to continue working; it’s fantastic. In her portraits of the Bolognese elite, she depicts the sitters’ finery in exquisite detail: crisp ruffs, glittering brocades and minutely described jewels. Even the lapdogs have earrings. What more could you want?’ On view at the National Gallery of Ireland, through 27 August 2023
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Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Judith and Holofernes, c. 1595. Oil on canvas. Unframed: 120 cm x 93 cm; framed: 137 cm x 110 cm x 6 cm. Photograph by Equipe Fotostudio Bologna (c) Fondazione Ritiro San Pellegrino

Partition – PartageExhibition selected by Nishad Avari, Head of South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

‘This extraordinary exhibition showcases works by Tyeb Mehta and Zarina and Nasreen Mohamedi from the collection of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in New Delhi alongside Touch AIR, a specially commissioned film by Amit Dutta, and the architectural model of the museum’s new building designed by Sir David Adjaye, scheduled to be inaugurated in 2026.’
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Installation view of Partition — Partage at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Adjaye Associates with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, 2023. Photograph by Andrea Avezzù © Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

‘Responding to ‘Mnemonic,’ the theme for the Curator’s Special Projects section in the Arsenale, the exhibition underlines the relationships between museums and memory, and the significant roles that institutions play in bridging past, present and future. ’

On view at the Venice Architecture Biennale, through 26 November 2023

People of the Book by Geraldine BrooksBook selected by Andrew Lueck, Specialist, Chinese Works of Art

‘The Pulitzer Prize – winning author Geraldine Brooks has been in the news for her most recent book, Horse; however, I would recommend one of her earlier works, People of the Book. As a Specialist of Chinese Art at Christie’s, I’d say that my job is a mix of Antiques Roadshow meets CSI. There is a lot of investigation and research that goes into authentication. I’m often in awe of the places and people that the objects I work with have encountered.  ‘Brooks’s novel follows a Jewish Haggadah from its creation centuries ago by unnamed craftspeople, through wars and hardships, to modern Kosovo. The book gives a face and a life to the unnamed craftswoman who made this beautiful illuminated book and tells the story of the tumultuous events that led many of these works to their current homes in museums and private collections.’ Published by The Viking Press, 2008
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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, published by Penguin Books

Cartier: Beautés du Monde: High Jewelry and Precious ObjectsBook selected by Mei Y Giam, Director of Private Sales, Jewellery

‘An irresistible coffee table book for any jewellery lover. This publication by François Chaille and Alberto Cavalli is a tribute to the maison’s latest high jewellery collection, celebrating nature and cultures from around the world. The tome takes you on a global journey with Russian, Islamic and Asian aesthetics and traditions expressed in gems and jewels. It’s a visual delight showcasing the best of the Cartier universe. ’ Published by Flammarion, 2023

Cartier: Beautés du Monde: High Jewelry and Precious Objects, by François Chaille and Alberto Cavalli, published by Flammarion

From Cartier: Beautés du Monde: High Jewelry and Precious Objects, 2023. Photograph by Bruno Ehrs © Cartier. Courtesy of Rizzoli

Talking ThreadsExhibition selected by Louise Broadhurst, International Head of Rugs & Carpets

‘If you find yourself wandering around the streets of Rotterdam this summer, be sure to drop in to the Wereldmuseum, an ethnographic museum situated at Willemskade where the recently opened Talking Threads is on view. The exhibition displays a wide variety of embroideries from around the world and explores their significance as ‘‘decoration, as a cultural expression, as a language through which stories are told and as an expression of group and individual identity’’.
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Decorative Cloth, Otomi San Pablito, Mexico, before 1975. Factory cotton, lustre cotton. Courtesy of Wereldmuseum Rotterdam

‘Featuring over 200 embroideries, many of which are drawn from the museum’s own collection, Talking Threads shines the spotlight on the often unknown makers.’

On view at Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, through 22 October 2023

Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians by Anna ReynoldsBook selected by Jonquil O’Reilly, Specialist, Old Masters

‘This book accompanies the Royal Collection’s fabulous exhibition on 18th-century fashion, which shows paintings alongside surviving garments of the period. Stockings, men’s dress coats, wig powdering paraphernalia, court gowns with matching shoes, they even have a princess’s wedding dress.’
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Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians by Anna Reynolds, published by Royal Collection Trust

‘The book is incredibly well researched, and Reynolds writes in such an easy and accessible way. She covers everything from towering powdered updos to underwear and military garb to the 18th-century London rag trade. My dream coffee table book.’

Published by the Royal Collection Trust, 2023

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