CULTURE

Books on art and architecture

A new series on Greek art and a number of books on unusual, well-researched subjects have been released by different publishers and offer the public quality options other than the standard coffee-table books on art and architecture. «Thrace, from the Spyros Meletzis Archive,» published in a bilingual Greek and English edition by Kastaniotis Publishers in collaboration with the Ethnological Museum of Thrace, puts together the pictures that Spyros Meletzis (one of the four classic names in Greek human-interest photography of the interwar and postwar period) took in the regions of Thrace-Samothrace, Didymoteicho, Makri, Soufli, Alexandroupolis and the Evros Delta – which was where he was born, raised and first took up photography. Just like the pictures the artist has taken of other parts of Greece, one will find a recurring interest in the Greek rural landscape and its people. Meletzis draws an idealized, heroic image of both, especially in his images of Samothrace, where farmers and shepherds take on the heroic poses of the partisans who fought during the resistance and whom Meletzis had photographed in 1944. The book ends with the pictures that Meletzis was commissioned to take of the public works projects conducted at the Evros Delta in the mid-1950s. Although not typical of Meletzis’s style, they show the region’s modernization and for that reason are interesting to view against the preceding images of unspoiled nature and more traditional life. Nina Kassianou’s informative essay places the pictures in their historical context and helps the reader to appraise the photographer’s work. Another book, this time on Greek sculpture, includes unique black-and-white closeups and detailed views of some of the most important ancient Greek sculptures found in the National Archaeological Museum and other museums worldwide. «Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Sculpture,» published in Greek and English by Melissa, is a well-designed book that gives the viewer a rare glimpse into the texture, finishing and decorative motifs of sculptures that one can only see at a distance. The short texts on each sculpture illustrated were written by Fotini Zafeiropoulou. The photographs are by Ilias Iliadis and Socratis Mavromatis. Greek architects The research that architect Vassilis Kolonas conducted on the work of Greek architects in Thessaloniki, Constantinople and Smyrni from the second part of the 19th century to the beginning of the Balkan Wars is an important addition to the bibliography on the history of Greek architecture. In «Greek Architects in the Ottoman Empire (19th-20th century),» published in Greek by Olkos, images and text provide an in-depth and visually varied analysis of both Greek architecture and of the life of the Greek community in the large cities of the Ottoman Empire in its late phase. Monographs Six Greek monographs, each on the work of a 20th-century Greek artist, comprise the first batch of a new series released by Adam Publishers. Designed in the same format and with hardbound cover, the books cover the work of Diamantis Diamantopoulos, Yiannis Moralis, Alexis Akrithakis, Costas Tsoclis, Yiannis Migadis and Edouardos Sakayian. The artists have been selected based on the criteria that each of them offers a representative view of Greek art for each period. Diamantis Diamantopoulos and Yiannis Moralis, for example, are two of the most important names in the so-called Thirties Generation. Although amply illustrated, the series is not modeled after a coffee-table art book. The authors have studied their subjects carefully and present a full analysis of their work. The six books in the series show a serious attempt at enriching the Greek history of 20th century Greek art. Another interesting Greek publication to look at is «Dream Movie Theaters» from Kapon Publications. A text by Steven Castle presents the private movie theaters that the US-based Greek architect Theodoros Kalomoirakis has designed around the world. Kalomoirakis began as a movie director and in the 1980s and became the artistic director of Time-Warner Publications, soon setting up his own company that specialized exclusively on the design of movie theaters. Readers will find an amazing variety of unusual private movie theaters: There is the majestic, Belle Epoque-style premises of a mansion in Ukraine that its proprietor decided to convert into a private cinema, a cinema in Las Vegas that looks like a Pharaonic temple and the more discreet traditionally styled movie theater in Provence, France. Kitsch and elegance are both to be found in this book on the eccentricities of private housing.