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Fra Angelico Hardcover – May 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this sumptuous, scholarly volume, the life of Dominican friar and artist Fra Angelico (1400-55) is presented in the context of his work. Spike (Massaccio, LJ 6/1/96) divides his book into three sections: life and work, color plates (with commentary), and a black-and-white catalog. He records the influences that shaped Angelico's life and work, notably the emergence of the Humanists, the Council of Florence (1440), Cosimo de' Medici, and the library at San Marco, and also presents important original findings on Angelico's fresco cycles in the cloister of San Marco, Florence. Recent investigations of others, including Georges Didi-Huberman's Fra Angelico: Dissemblance and Figuration (LJ 2/1/96), are carefully referenced in the footnoted text. While there is not yet a catalogue raisonee, this difficult but rewarding book, with its many quality illustrations and fresh perspective, offers a complex overview for informed readers. ?Ellen Bates, New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


. . . Spike's beautifully illustrated monograph . . . presents the clearest interpretation of his career to date. -- Choice, 11/97

. . . engaging, superbly illustrated and catalogued . . . -- Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 12/14/97

. . . sumptuous . . . this rewarding book, with its many quality illustrations and fresh perspective, offers a complex overview for informed readers. -- Library Journal, 8/97

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789203227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789203229
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 11.5 x 13.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ccondesa on March 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although this book is a scholarly presentation of the life and work of Fra Angelico, it is not written in the obscure language of art history. The style is clear and straightforward. This is a beautiful book printed on high quality paper. The reproductions reflect the true colors of the originals.

Spike puts forth the novel theory that Fra Angelico apprenticed under Starnina, a semi mythical painter whose body of work for the most part has not survived. As proof, he offers the fact that a painting which hangs in the Uffizi and which had been previously attributed to Starnina was reassigned to Angelico in 1947. In Angelico's early work, one may see a similarity between his late Gothic figures and those of Starnina and his pupil, Masolino. On the other hand, Fra Angelico's style and his use of pure color can easily be seen to resemble that of Lorenzo Monaco. The majority of art historians seem to agree that Fra Angelico trained in Monoco's studio and even finished several of Monaco's works upon his death.

The most illuminating part of the book is Spike's interpretation of the fresco cycles at San Marco. The most complex designs are to be found in the cells of the friars. Spike divides the 9 cells into triads and has determined that the subject matter of each triad is not random but rather, for this group of highly educated theologians, Fra Angelico designed each of frescoes to be a meditation on the mysteries of the Incarnation, the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ.

The third section of the book is a complete catalog of Fra Angelico's body of work. Unfortunately this consists mostly of thumbnails and are all in black and white. While I would have preferred larger prints, it does not change the fact that this is truly a book that any lover of the art of Fra Angelico would want to own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ken Bridgeman on November 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Many years ago, I acquired a large, very old art print in a gilt frame from a century-old Dominican convent in Northern California that had burned down accidentally during restoration. The Dominican nuns had decided to disperse all of their accumulated artworks and build a new convent. I was never able to identify the original artist, until one day I came across an Italian publication from the mid-1960's entitled "Forma E Colore: L'Angelico a San Marco" by Luciano Berti. As it turned out, my large, beautiful print was of Fra Angelico's "The Coronation of the Virgin" from Cell #9 in the Convent of San Marco. But the limited text in the publication was all in Italian, so I never learned much else about the stunning cycle of frescoes at San Marco in Florence that the book protrayed.

Last week, I acquired this truly amazing book that surveys Fra Angelico's complete life, influences and work in exquisite detail. I can't put it down! The reproductions of the artwork are truly breath taking. Many pages contain details from some of the larger pieces, allowing for a deeper appreciation for the artwork. I suspect no one would be permitted to examine them this closely if seen in person. The third section of the book gives a complete listing, with thumbnail prints in black and white, of each of the artist's known works. A detailed provenance of each work is listed, including where in the world one can find that particular work today. Another reviewer bemoaned the thumbnails, but I suspect this book would have been prohibitively expensive if all of the works had been portrayed in color and in a larger format.

The extraordinary care with which the author describes exactly how the frescoes of San Marco are arranged throughout the convent brings the entire ancient building to life.
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Format: Hardcover
Beautiful book. I already knew it and had seen it before, so this is precisely what I had in mind.
Thanks al lot!
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