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from a book of contemporary collages to a sumptuous tome on Mecca

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Vitamin C+: collage in contemporary artcontributors include Yuval Etgar, Phaidon, 304pp, £49.95 (hb)

Phaidon’s latest survey of contemporary art in the Vitamin The series focuses on the underrated medium of collage. A publisher’s statement as: “an artistic language composed of found images, fragmentary forms and unexpected juxtapositions. While it first achieved major art status in the early 20th century, the last decade has seen a new explosion of artists using this dynamic and experimental approach to image making. A selection of curators, directors and writers (including myself) nominated more than 100 eminent artists in the field such as Clotilde Jiménez from Mexico, Mohamed Bourouissa from Algeria, the American Martha Rosler and the British Georgie Hopton. “The end result showcases both analog and digital approaches, overturning all narrow definitions and revealing collage as one of the most exciting and varied art-making processes used by artists today,” writes l publication editor, Rebecca Morrill.

Rediscover the black portraitPeter Brathwaite, Getty Publications, 168 pages, £35 (hb)

Encouraged by the Getty Museum Challenge—which involved using household items to re-enact famous paintings—British opera singer Peter Brathwaite began searching for more than 100 works of art during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 featuring black sitters. “Scouring social media, my feed was inundated with people who had taken up the challenge, recreating their favorite works of art using everyday objects found at home. The submissions revealed the depressing truth that most of the so-called great works of art we choose to showcase and celebrate do not tell the story of people of color – the global majority,” he writes in the introduction. Works recreated by Brathwaite include The Adoration of the Magi (1480-90) by Georges Trubert, Portrait of an unknown man (circa 1525) by Jan Mostaert, and Rice and peas (1982) by Sonia Boyce.

Pilgrims visiting the Ka’bah, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the Holy Mosque © Emad Alhusayni

Mecca: the holy city of IslamMeraj N. Mirza, Assouline, 190pp, £1,000 (hb)

This lavish deluxe publication (note the price) looks at the development of Makkah (Mecca), Islam’s holiest site. In the 1970s, around 100,000 to 200,000 people made the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca each year; this figure will reach one million in 2022.

The book explores the “wonders found in the city…discover the Ka’bah, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the Holy Mosque, said to have been built by Adam and then rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael.” Heritage monuments such as the Makkah Clock, the world’s largest timepiece that towers over the Grand Mosque in Makkah, are discussed. In 2015, however, we reported that “Construction works have already transformed Mecca and Medina into cities without a past, dominated by skyscrapers.”

Contemporary art (essentials of art)Natalie Rudd, Thames and Hudson, 176pp, £12.99 (pb)

Contemporary art (Artistic Essentials) promises to be “a candid account of contemporary art that identifies key themes and approaches, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the contexts in which art is created today,” reads a publisher’s statement. The chapters cover a range of topics such as “What are the rules of the game?”, “What do artists do all day?” and “can art build a better world?”. This final chapter “highlights how artists have used their status and global reach to effect change.” Artists discussed include Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Banksy, Cindy Sherman and Sophie Calle.

The cathedral of Ani, the “city of 1001 churches”, and former capital of Armenia, today in Turkey. Earthquakes, changing rulers and shifting trade routes led to the abandonment of the medieval town © Hunghsi Chao/World Monuments Fund

Among the Ruins: Why Civilizations Crumble and Communities DisappearJohn Darlington, Yale University Press, 304pp, £25 (hb)

John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monuments Fund Britain, explores how and why ancient civilizations and ruling elites have disappeared over the past 3,000 years, arguably highlighting how history repeats itself. Darlington says, “In the book, I draw out history’s greatest potential lessons – the loss of civilizations, large or small, ancient or new, and on every continent of the world – and look for common themes as to why they disappeared. “The collapse of Chile’s saltpeter mines, which powered half the Chilean economy around 1900, is for example mirrored by the impending end of fossil fuels as the world turns to renewable energy sources, says Darlington . Another section focuses on an earthquake in June 1692 that destroyed Jamaica’s capital, Port Royal, recalling the destruction wrought by recent earthquakes that devastated Turkey and Syria.

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