Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature
My first impression of Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature is that it is huge! 12 inches x 15 inches (30.5cm x 38.1cm), allowing for huge bonsai photos, the blad copy I received had a foldout picture too, bonsai centerfold! Then there are 416 pages with 596 full-color photographs with caption descriptions for each photo and essays throughout. The icing on the cake is a portion of the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help with ongoing earthquake relief efforts.
Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature is not an instruction manual on how to grow, display, style, ect., your bonsai. It is a bonsai gallery book pure and simple, and is what bonsai gallery books should strive to be. I set the bar pretty high for what I expect out of a quality bonsai book and Abbeville Press and William Valavanis have exceed my lofty expectations. I love that Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature is a book for anyone and that everyone will be able to enjoy, people who love bonsai, people who love great photographs, people who want to display an interesting book on their coffee table.
Abbeville Press and the authors really went above and beyond with the quality of the content and construction materials for this book. They have set the bar very high for future bonsai gallery books to try and live up to. I cannot wait to get my hands on the completed book, so I can admire world class bonsai and to proudly display on my coffee table and hopefully it will become the focus of many discussions. It is very obvious to me that everyone involved in the production of this book had nothing on their mind other than quality. Yes, this book is very expensive, but it take money to produce a high quality book, I would buy this book in a heartbeat.
Abbeville Press has also donate 3 copies of this book to the ofBonsai Progressive Styling Contest sponsored by RYUGA bonsai tools. But you need to enter the contest to have a chance to win!
[tabgroup][tab title=”Publishers Summary”]
The practice of cultivating bonsai may be traced back some two thousand years, to the earliest representations of potted trees in Chinese art, and is thought to have reached Japan in the Heian period (AD 794—1185), a time of rich cultural exchange. This unique branch of horticulture attained its maturity, and received its present name, in Japan’s Edo period (1603—1868), and many fine bonsai are recorded in the woodblock prints of that era. As Japan broadened its trade and diplomatic contacts after the Meiji Restoration, bonsai became a matter of international interest, and today bonsai masters around the world have learned to grow hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs in miniature, training them into living sculptures. Their exquisite creations, which change with the passage of the years and the cycle of the seasons, exemplify the connection between man and nature, life and art.
In Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature, the finest extant achievements in the art of bonsai are seen together for the first time, through the lens of renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer. This magnificent volume is the result of an ambitious photographic campaign, in the course of which Singer was granted unprecedented access to the most respected public and private collections in Japan and the United States, including the mecca of bonsai, the Omiya Bonsai Village of Saitama, Japan, where photography is normally prohibited. Three hundred stunning full-page images and four lavish gatefolds present bonsai of all types, from quiet representations of nature to colorful fall foliage to bold sculptural forms. The horticultural and aesthetic characteristics of each bonsai are concisely and authoritatively described in the narrative captions by William N. Valavanis, head of the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. And because the container is considered an integral part of any bonsai—indeed, the literal meaning of “bonsai” is “tray plant”—the book also includes some twenty-five photographs of traditional bonsai containers, with descriptions. A further sequence of twenty-five photographs is devoted to the related art of suiseki, or miniature stone landscapes displayed in the same manner, and often alongside, bonsai.
With his groundbreaking first book, Botanica Magnifica, Jonathan Singer established a new style of botanical photography, characterized by an exceptional clarity of detail and richness of color, as well as a painterly chiaroscuro. These qualities are just as evident in the present volume; Singer photographs each bonsai with an artist’s—one might even say a portraitist’s—eye, capturing its individual character, and in some cases revealing qualities hitherto unsuspected even by those who tended it daily. Fine Bonsai not only documents the masterpieces of an ancient horticultural art, but also is a masterpiece in itself.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
[/tab][tab title=”What the Critic’s are Saying”]
“With his last book, Jonathan Singer established himself as the Audubon of flowers. Well, one of the most brilliant nature photographers of our generation has done it again. For this amazing volume Singer was granted unprecedented access to some of the world’s best bonsai specimens. His portraits capture these botanical masterpieces in all their glory and mystique. Behold the Audubon of Bonsai!” — David Seideman, Editor-in-Chief, Audubon Magazine
“When I sit down at my desk in Copenhagen and look up, the first and most beautiful thing I see is a spectacular Jonathan Singer photograph of flowers hanging on my wall. It gives me calm when I need a moment to refocus. Having lived in Japan for eighteen years, I had many occasions to enjoy and contemplate the mystery of bonsai, and still do. Jonathan Singer’s photographs help unveil that mystery, and provide all of us with the chance to see and contemplate on this ancient art form at any time. Victor Hasselblad founded the company because of his great love for nature photography. If he could see this book, he would be so proud that one of his Hasselblad cameras was the partner of Jonathan Singer to help create such beautiful images.” — Dr. Larry Hansen, Chairman & CEO, Hasselblad
“This is a dazzling book by one of the world’s most gifted photographers.” — Milton Esterow, Publisher, ARTnews
“Retired podiatrist Jonathan Singer has worked magic in [Fine] Bonsai: Art and Nature, an elegant album featuring hundreds of full-page images of the miniature potted trees that represent a horticultural art form dating back 2,000 years.” — Audubon Magazine
[/tab][tab title=”About the Authors”]
Jonathan M. Singer’s double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica is kept in the Cullman Rare Book Room at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Dr. Singer was named a Hasselblad Laureate Award winner (2008) and Carl Linnaeus Silver Medalist from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences (2009) based on his contribution marrying art with science, and to “our perception and appreciation of the botanical world.” His many achievements include his appointment as Research Collaborator, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
William N. Valavanis has made over fifty trips to Japan where he apprenticed with well-known bonsai artists Kyuzo Murata and Kakutaro Komuro in Omiya Bonsai Village in Japan. He is the proprietor of the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York, where he maintains a collection of classical bonsai.
Thomas S. Elias, Ph.D., was the former director of the U.S. National Arboretum and the U.S. National Bonsai and Penjing Museums, Washington, D.C.
W. John Kress, Ph.D., is the Director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet Office of the Under Secretary for Science. He is the author of Abbeville’s Weeping Goldsmith.
Sean Smith is a contributing editor of the North American Viewing Stone Society and a member of the Nippon Suiseki Association.
Hiroshi Takeyama is the Executive Director of the Nippon Bonsai Association. When time permits, he teaches his bonsai techniques and artistry at worldwide conventions.[/tab]
I received what is called a blad (book layout and design) copy from the publisher.