African photographs, Indian paintings and Greek mythology

African photographs, Indian paintings and Greek mythology

Robert Tanitch reviews three books

Inherit the DustINHERIT THE DUST by NICK BRANDT (Thames & Hudson £45). Africa will go the way of Europe. Soon there will be no animals if we do not get a move on. The scale and the speed at which the destruction of the world is happening is frightening.

Brandt takes photographs of elephants, monkeys, giraffes, rhinos and zebras and then carries these large scale panels to industrial areas where the animals used to roam and photographs the panels in situ.

The juxtapositions of animal and the brutal, grim panoramas of ugly wasteland have an enormous dramatic, shocking, overwhelming impact.  Brandt’s photographs are magnificent, eloquent ethical confrontations. We have the moral and human imperative to protect the earth. It is not just animals who are victims. It is impoverished humans, too.

The Spirit of Indian PaintingTHE SPIRIT OF INDIAN PAINTING by B. N. GOSWAMY (Thames & Hudson £29.95). Close Encounters with 102 Great Works. 100-1900. The highly respected Indian art historian offers a personal selection to bring the reader into contact with each work and to feel the texture of its form. Goswamy’s detailed descriptions and perceptive analysis are invaluable in helping the reader read the visual vocabulary, symbolism and history.

The paintings are arranged not in a chronological order but in four different groups: Visions, Descriptions, Passion and Contemplation. It’s a vivid, colourful, precise world of iconic images of goddesses, myths and heroic tales; portraits and scenes of princely life; speaking trees, a divi with fifteen hands, dancing girls and royal tiger hunts; and, of course, celebrations of love.  The book has already been hailed as a classic.

A Traveller's GuideGREEK MYTHOLOGY A Traveller’s Guide from Mount Olympus to Troy by David Stuttard (Thames & Hudson £14.95).  Greek myths have always exercised enormous influence on art, literature, theatre, opera, ballet, etc. Our cultural lives would be much diminished without the Greek myths.

Today we are still adapting and revising the stories and they are still proving highly successful at the box office.

If you are planning a visit to Greek, Turkey and Crete, and even if you are not, this guide would be most useful, linking myth, history, landscape and sites.  Myths give cities pride.

My only disappointment is that there are no photographs alongside the drawings.


If you would like to buy any of these books please click on the links below.