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Hockney biographer publishes illuminating second volume

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Written by ANN LEVIN, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:04
'David Hockney: The Biography, 1975-2012' by Christopher Simon Sykes. Image courtesy of  Nan A. Talese/Doubleday NEW YORK (AP) – David Hockney: The Biography, 1975-2012 (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday), by Christopher Simon Sykes

More than halfway through the second volume of his vivid, intimate biography of British artist David Hockney, Christopher Simon Sykes describes the moment in the 1980s when Hockney discovers the creative possibilities of the photocopy machine.

A natural talent who drew from the moment he could pick up a pencil, Hockney falls deeply in love with the density of copier inks – “the most beautiful black I had ever seen on paper,” he says. “It seemed to have no reflection whatsoever, giving it a richness and mystery almost like a void.”

Sykes, who wrote the book with Hockney's cooperation, picks up the story of this astonishing artist in 1975, when the working-class boy from the north of England has already won widespread acclaim for his paintings depicting the bright light, azure skies and swimming pools of his adopted city of Los Angeles.

Even greater success lay ahead, including a major retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1988 and a blockbuster show in 2012 at the Royal Academy in London of landscapes he made after moving back to Yorkshire in his late ’60s.

Chapter by chapter, the book unfolds as a series of love affairs, in which the workaholic artist falls madly in love with a new art-making medium – fax machines, Polaroids and iPads, to name a few – puzzles over its problems and potential, masters it and moves on. Always, he returns to painting and drawing.

“If everybody is asleep,” Henry Geldzahler, a former Metropolitan Museum curator, observed, “he draws them sleeping, and if he's alone he draws his luggage lying on the floor. He'll work until he drops.”

Given his prodigious talent, it's instructive to see his reaction to the work of other greats such as Picasso and Vermeer: like that of an awe-struck schoolboy. A Monet exhibition in Chicago “made me look everywhere intensely,” he says. “That little shadow on Michigan Avenue, the light hitting the leaf. I thought: ‘My God, now I've seen that. He's made me see it.’”

Sykes has an engaging style and an enviable ability to write clearly about art – including Hockney's struggle to capture what he once called “our own bodily presence in the world.” But he ought to have given the manuscript another look – to eliminate cliches, repetitive language and the trivial details that bog down otherwise illuminating diary passages he uses to tell the story of this remarkable man.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-11-10-14 1520GMT

'David Hockney: The Biography, 1975-2012' by Christopher Simon Sykes. Image courtesy of  Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 12:00

Book explores New York state's pivotal role in Civil War

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 09:39
 'An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War' published by SUNY Press. Image courtesy of SUNY Press.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A new Civil War book based on a popular exhibit at the New York State Museum is due out this December.

The book published by SUNY Press is a companion to the exhibit, “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.”

The yearlong exhibit opened at the downtown Albany museum in September 2012, telling the story of how New York state provided the most men, money and supplies for the Union war effort. It also highlighted the personal stories of some of the nearly 450,000 New Yorkers who fought for the North.

The exhibit received the Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History.

The book was written by three top officials at the museum: chief curator Robert Weible, senior historian Jennifer Lemak and associate exhibition planner Aaron Nobel.

For additional information about the book log on to .

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-28-14 0703GMT

 'An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War' published by SUNY Press. Image courtesy of SUNY Press.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 09:56

Kovels release 47th edition of antiques price guide

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Written by Publisher PR   
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:58
‘Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2015,’ Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, 
Sept. 16, 2014, $27.95, paperback, 652 pages, 2,500 color photographs, ISBN: 978-1-57912-977-4

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Antiques collectors have turned to the Kovel family for their peerless annual guide since the first edition appeared in 1968. In the past four decades, Americans have become much savvier and collecting has become much more popular. What has remained the same is the anticipation each year around the publication of the new Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2015 by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel.

The 47th edition of the book includes advice for readers on trends and pricing patterns. The Kovels have added a valuable new section: “Price it Right: How to Set Prices to Sell Your Things,” in which they provide appraisers contact information, explain how to research prices before putting an item on the market, and provide detailed recommendations on navigating the process, including what to keep, when to enlist an expert and what impacts an item’s resale value.

Kovels is the most complete guide on the market, with more than 35,000 new price listings from the past year in over 700 categories and 2,500 new, full-color photographs. The book provides the latest antiques prices – not estimates. With a nationally syndicated newspaper column, newsletter and popular website, they are without a doubt America’s leading popular authorities on collectibles and antiques.

The guide enables any reader to easily find out what their item is and what it’s worth. The book features items sought by collectors from across the spectrum, rather than only the high-priced items found in most guides. The user-friendly book includes an index and cross-references for everything from art pottery, Depression glass and jewelry to furniture, coin-operated machines and sports memorabilia, along with up-to-date information about each category, logos, marks and dates. Also featured are hundreds of expert tips, comments on trends and pricing patterns, and the year’s record prices. All this enables collectors to buy, sell and collect with confidence.

A peek at some of this past year’s fascinating listings:

  • Highest price in the book: $875,000 for a carved figure of Santa Claus made by Samuel A. Robb of New York in 1923.
  • Lowest price in the book: $2 for a celluloid button with a rhinestone canter made for a dress.
  • Largest item in the book: a wooden and marble back bar with four columns, mirrors, and 
cast-iron trim, 150 by 117 inches ($18,000).
  • Smallest item in the book: a micromosaic glass button picturing a building, 3/8 inch ($14).
  • A French Provincial dog’s bed with canopy and curved rails made around 1800, 29 by 24 inches ($1,722).

About the Authors: Terry Kovel is a lifelong collector. She has written more than 100 books on antiques and collectibles and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column, a subscriber newsletter and an e-newsletter. She lives in Ohio. Kim Kovel, daughter of Terry and Ralph Kovel, grew up in a house filled with antiques and traveled regularly to antique shows and flea markets all over the country. Kim lives in Florida.

‘Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2015,’ Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, 
Sept. 16, 2014, $27.95, paperback, 652 pages, 2,500 color photographs, ISBN: 978-1-57912-977-4
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 13:11

In Review: Warman's Costume Jewelry Identification & Price Guide

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Monday, 08 September 2014 16:43
The cover of the new Warman's Costume Jewelry Identification and Price Guide by Pamela Y. Wiggins

ROUND ROCK, Texas – If you’ve never thought of old costume jewelry as a wearable art form with an intriguing past, a new book by author Pamela Y. Wiggins may prove to be an enlightening read. In Warman’s Costume Jewelry, recently released by Krause Publications, Wiggins shares her expert insight and acknowledges that while these pieces were once considered to be “junk jewelry” as widely advertised in the 1930s, made to be worn as a fashion statement for a season or two and then cast aside, that’s no longer true.

“This book is designed to serve a number of audiences with an interest in vintage and collectible jewelry, whether they’re just trying to find out if the goodies in Grandma’s jewelry box should go to a high-end auction house or be donated to the local thrift store. It serves as a tool for dating many pieces as well, whether the owner is contemplating selling them or just wants the satisfaction of knowing a little something about the objects she holds dear,” Wiggins wrote in her introduction.

Warman’s Costume Jewelry exhibits the broad knowledge base Wiggins has amassed buying, selling, and writing about costume jewelry since she first started collecting in the late 1980s thus establishing her as one of the most highly regarded jewelry experts in the country. The book covers jewelry ranging from true antique Victorian-era pieces to those designed by clever contemporary artisans already considered collectible, and includes insights gleaned visiting with and interviewing industry notables such as Kenneth Jay Lane, Pat Ciner Hill, and Lawrence Vrba. Her vast interaction with other jewelry experts and collectors through the organization she co-founded, Costume Jewelry Collectors Int’l (CJCI), is also woven into the text.

“I first learned to love fashion accessories working in upscale stores like Sakowitz and Saks Fifth Avenue. When I discovered a few vintage pieces by the legendary company Miriam Haskell at an estate sale in the late 1980s, I didn’t know anything about them although I did recognize their quality. I began researching 20th century jewelry at that point along with the rich history attached to each item, selling those first pieces and buying more, and never looked back. I feel my passion for collectible jewelry in all its varied forms and my appreciation for its past encapsulates nicely in my latest book,” Wiggins adds.

Photography professional Jay B. Siegel contributed more than 800 images to illustrate the book, which includes a detailed section entirely devoted to identifying and dating pieces using stones, clasps and other components along with identifying unmarked vintage jewelry. Other chapters provide historical context decade by decade demonstrating how popular culture and historical events influenced adornment from the late 19th century through the early 2000s. Major designers and manufacturers are also discussed including notable haute couturiers such as Chanel and Dior, and a section on the fabulous retail lines marketed by Joseff of Hollywood beginning in the 1930s exhibits how the glamour of the company’s movie jewelry was embraced by the masses. Value ranges are included with every piece featured throughout the book.

In addition to collecting, Wiggins also markets vintage and contemporary ladies accessories through her business Chic Antiques by Pamela Wiggins. Constantly researching and evaluating the thousands of pieces she offers to her customers provides hands-on learning she passes on to her readers both in Warman’s Costume Jewelry and her writing for where she serves as the site’s antiques expert.

“I’m so fortunate to be able to incorporate a fascinating hobby into my profession and to share beautiful jewelry with others in a number of ways. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing people take pleasure in their adornment as much as I do, and helping them learn about their treasures through my new book is a longtime goal I’m so excited to have realized,” Wiggins adds.

Wiggins previously penned Buying and Selling Antiques & Collectibles on eBay (Thomson Course Technology) and serves as a contributing editor for Heritage Magazine.

Warman’s Costume Jewelry is available at . It is also offered through and other online booksellers, as well as Barnes & Noble stores throughout the United States.

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The cover of the new Warman's Costume Jewelry Identification and Price Guide by Pamela Y. Wiggins
Last Updated on Monday, 08 September 2014 16:51

Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

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Written by KEVIN BURBACH, Associated Press   
Monday, 18 August 2014 13:42
The Laura Ingalls Wilder book 'The Long Winter,' Harper & Brothers, 1940. Image courtesy of Archive and Signature House. PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – Laura Ingalls Wilder penned one of the most beloved children's series of the 20th century, but her forthcoming autobiography will show devoted Little House on the Prairie fans a more realistic, grittier view of frontier living.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography – Wilder's unedited draft that was written for an adult audience and eventually served as the foundation for the popular series – is slated to be released by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press nationwide this fall. The not-safe-for-children tales include stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk on whiskey.

Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, herself a well-known author, tried and failed to get an edited version of the autobiography published throughout the early 1930s. The original rough draft has been preserved at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Mo, for decades but hadn't been published.

The children's series never presented a romanticized version of life on the prairie – in Little House in the Big Woods, Laura and her sister Mary gleefully help dissect the family pig before bouncing its inflated bladder back and forth in the yard. But the series also left out or fictionalized scenes that Wilder deemed unsuitable for kids, including much of the time the family spent in Burr Oak, Iowa, and Walnut Grove, Minn., according to Pamela Smith Hill, a Wilder biographer and the lead editor on the autobiography.

“So you can read Pioneer Girl as nonfiction rather than fiction and get a better feeling of how the historical Ingalls family really lived, what their relationships were and how they experienced the American West,” she said.

Wilder details a scene from her childhood in Burr Oak, in which a neighbor of the Ingalls' pours kerosene throughout his bedroom, sets it on fire and proceeds to drunkenly drag his wife around by her hair before Wilder's father – Pa in the children's books – intervenes.

Scenes like that make Wilder's memoir sound like it's filled with scandal and mature themes, “which isn't exactly true either,” according to Amy Lauters, an associate professor of mass media at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

“It's just that that first version was blunt, it was honest. It was full of the everyday sorts of things that we don't care to think about when we think about history,” said Lauters, who has read the original manuscript and also is writing a book on Rose Wilder Lane. “And it's certainly not the fantasized version we saw on Little House on the Prairie the television show.”

Wilder's story will likely do well in South Dakota, since the author moved to De Smet in the late 1870s with her family, eventually meeting her future husband there.

For fans, the autobiography is chance to see from where Wilder drew her inspiration, said Sandra Hume, a Wilder aficionado who published an internationally distributed newsletter for 10 years and now helps manage Laurapalooza, a conference dedicated to all things Wilder.

“I am very excited to see people have access to this, because her life story has been pretty muddled because people get mixed up with the TV show and it's nice to see an interest in people seeing basically what is the primary source ... ” she said.

The autobiography preserves Wilder's original rough draft – misspellings, idiosyncrasies and all – but adds extensive annotations.

Little House lovers can learn about the three girls that Wilder combined to create the Nellie Olson character, or how extensive the damage was in Minnesota during the grasshopper plague of the 1870s, which forced Pa in On the Banks of Plum Creek to set out in search of work.

“In some ways, I came to think of the annotations in Pioneer Girl as almost an encyclopedia about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life and work,” Hill said.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-16-14 1954GMT

The Laura Ingalls Wilder book 'The Long Winter,' Harper & Brothers, 1940. Image courtesy of Archive and Signature House.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 August 2014 14:02
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