GLASS BY GALLE, by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha (Abrams, $40). Coincident with the first major American exhibition of Gall,e glass (at the Corning Museum) is the release of this well-illustrated and knowledgably written examination of the decorative influences and manufacturing techniques involved in creation of this greatest of all Art Nouveau glass. The book is less a history of the glassmaker and his business than an attempt to trace the artistic development of form. For more about the artist, see Emile Gall,e, by Philippe Garner (Academy Editions/St. Martin's, $29.95).
RAISED IN CLAY: The Southern Pottery Tradition, by Nancy Sweezy (Smithsonian Institution Press, $39.95). With a forward by folklorist Ralph Rinzler and an exhaustive bibliography by Stuart Schwartz of the Mint Museum, Sweezy's book represents the most impressive examination to date of the continuing Southern folk pottery tradition. Southern potteries are often family businesses. Indeed, Wayman Cole, a member of one of these clans, notes that, "they wouldn't let nobody marry into the family in the old days unless they promised to make pots." As a result of these close relationships among the craftsmen, it was possible for Sweezy, through a series of interviews, to produce a study not only of the craft but also of the people.
LACQUER: An International History and Illustrated Survey, (Abrams, $75). For over a thousand years, connoisseurs have marveled at the beauty and complexity of fine lacquer work, and this magnificently illustrated book provides an interesting introduction to the field. Designed for the beginning collector as well as for the more knowledgable, the text moves from basic definitions and manufacturing techniques through a chronological examination of the major areas of collectible lacquer: Asian, Near Eastern, European, American and contemporary. The 330 illustrations, nearly half of which are in color, are supplemented by helpful sections on lacquer restoration, materials, suppliers and work shops where one can observe the craft being practiced.
ARTISTS DESIGN FURNITURE, by Denise Domergue (Abrams, $35). It is hardly surprising that artists would turn their hands and minds to furniture design. After all, architects have been doing this for years. What is surprising, and so well illustrated in this book, is that they seem so good at it. True, there are predictable examples -- a boot leg bench by Jim Dine, Deco derivative pieces by Dakota Jackson; but there are some real show stoppers too. Peter Shire's futuristic furnishings are just the thing for interplanetary travel, and the humor of Alan Siegel's work leaves one chuckling if not necessarily comfortable. All in all, a wonderful exposition.