Review by Choice Review
Most general encyclopedias of art cover sculptors (Dictionary of Women Artists, ed. by Delia Gaze, CH, Mar'98; Contemporary Artists, 5th ed., 2002; Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975, CH, Apr'00; Dictionary of Art/Grove Art Online, CH, Jan'97). Some cover only sculptors (Francois Souchal's French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries, 4v., 1977-93; James A. McKay's Dictionary of Sculptors in Bronze, 1992; Rupert Gunnis's Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1968), and others treat such matters as casting and patination (John Mills's Encyclopedia of Sculpture Techniques, 1989; Nicholas Penny's The Materials of Sculpture, CH, Apr'94).But no comprehensive encyclopedia of sculptors and sculpture has existed, a lack Bostrom and her colleagues attempt to rectify with this set, whose objective is "to consider ... sculpture achievement in its broadest chronological, historical, technical, and international contexts." The promotional flyer claims the set contains "over 800 alphabetically arranged entries" (there are 756): 403 biographies of sculptors, 23 biographies of families, 151 individual works and monuments, 22 styles and periods, 75 countries and regions, 75 materials, forms, and techniques, and 7 critical concerns. Individuals not accorded their own entries are listed in the index and mentioned briefly in larger essays. Grove, which covers some 3,500 biographical entries on sculptors and carvers, lacks 14 of the biographies covered by Bostrom but mentions one in the family entry for Dantan. Nine of the remaining 13 are covered by Contemporary Artists, Contemporary Women Artists, or Dictionary of Women Artists. Bostrom's encyclopedia therefore offers only four biographies not found in other sources, and excellent Web sites with images can be found for most of those.Entries in this new encyclopedia ought to improve or update those already available. A typical entry consists of the artist's name, birth and death years, and national affiliation, followed by undivided text on life and works (less easy to grasp visually and intellectually than the section divisions used in Grove). Articles (which are signed) include see also references, a brief "Biography" that repeats some information in the life/works text, a useful chronologically arranged "Selected Works," and further readings. Many bibliographies are not current (the Botero entry has nothing later than 1992), often lagging behind those in Grove. The publisher claims 500 illustrations; there are 486, mostly small indistinct black-and-white images (that for Smithson's Spiral Jetty is nearly invisible). Grove's images have much better quality (as do other rival sources), and Grove Art Online has links to Web site color images. Photographs of works are not provided for all artists who have biographies; there are no illustrations for the pre-20th century essay on Africa and few for either China or Japan. Separate essays about specific works are provided for only a few sculptors, and many of those have no illustration of the work discussed.The chief editor (Detroit Institute of Arts), assembled an international group of academic, museum, and independent contributors, who are listed in a roster at the end of volume 3, but there are only 314, not the 500 claimed by the publisher. Although the editor imposed "strict standards for coverage and format," she "allowed the voices of the contributors to speak in individual entries ... for a more personal and varied tone" and for variety in historical and critical approaches. The articles are well written, but more consistent editorial control would be desirable. Ranges of methodology would be of interest if they could be discerned or if the index brought them together, but unfortunately it lacks references to feminism, semiotics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, Barthes, Lacan, or visual culture.Although issued by an established publisher of reference titles and aspiring to be "a seminal work in the field of sculpture," this encyclopedia will be of greater interest to general readers than to scholars. Its value is compromised by overlap with other sources, poor image quality, and its presumed unwillingness to extend coverage to methodological concerns. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Comprehensive art collections or general collections that lack Grove or other existing titles. J. Weidman Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Until now, reference material about sculpture could only be found in general art histories and encyclopedias. In this welcome addition to the literature of art history, sculpture finally gets its due.ust as a piece of sculpture challenges the viewer to look at a subject from several different perspectives (sometimes all at once), this comprehensive and well-organized work approaches its subject from a variety of viewpoints. Regional surveys and articles on styles and periods (Minimalism, Modernism, Romanesque); materials (Amber, Stone, Wood); forms (Obelisk, Stela, Totem pole); techniques (Metal casting, Pointing); and seminal sculptures ( Parthenon, Pieta) join biographical information about sculptors and, in some cases, critical analysis of one or two of their works. The more than 760 signed articles are alphabetically arranged, from one on modern Finnish sculptor Waino Aaltonen to one on several generations of the Baroque German Zurn family. A number of special features provide easy access to the content. In addition to a general index, there are also alphabetical and thematic lists of entries. Each article ends with carefully chosen suggestions for further reading, and many are accompanied by a black-and-white illustration. Entries on individual sculptors include lists of selected works and their years of completion. A list of contributors provides each one's credentials as well as a list of the articles written for this book. Cross-references abound, both in the index and the main text. A solid reference work appropriate for any large general reference collection as well as all art history collections. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
For this extensive, alphabetically arranged overview of the history of sculpture, Bostr?m (curator, Detroit Inst. of Arts) has marshaled 500 international contributors to produce more than 800 signed entries. Covered are regions and nations (e.g., Etruscan, China), styles (e.g., Gothic, Baroque), materials and techniques (e.g., ivory, papier-mache), special topics such as site-specific sculpture, important specific works such as the Belvedere Torso, conservation, and, of course, biographies (living sculptors are included). The writing is aimed at the educated nonspecialist. The biographies hew to a standard format: a generally chronological narrative of life and works followed by a shorter factual biography, a list of selected works, and selected further reading lists, with some repetition within the parts. The bibliographies are substantial and quite up-to-date, at least through 2002, and the index is solidly detailed. The work is evenhanded in presenting non-Western artists and artistic traditions. One can of course find omissions in a work of this kind, but with the mixture of entry types, this text does provide a very sound overview of the medium in encyclopedia format. Although it lacks the overall narrative organization and flashy color of the four-volume Sculpture: History of an Art, which was originally written for a French audience, it will serve readers with specific interests much more successfully. Nicholas Penny's monograph The Materials of Sculpture has more depth on technical and material matters, but this book suffices for the general reader. Illustrations were seen in photocopy only and are not the main feature of the book. All in all, there are no other titles comparable in scope. For all art collections.-Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.