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Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature

Fine Bonsai: Art and Nature
William N. Valavanis (text) and Jonathan Singer (photographs)
Abbeville Press
Publication Date: 

cloth (slipcase), 400 pp., $150.00

Bonsai are artistically trained potted plants. The origin of this art form has been traced to ancient China, appearing in paintings and murals as early as the eleventh century. As author William N. Valavanis explains, as cultural exchange between China and Japan expanded, scholars became more interested in this art form. This book contains a collection of the finest bonsai of international origins; they drew the photographer’s artistic eye with their textured foliage. “After World War II, the art of bonsai spread rapidly to non-Asian countries throughout the world.” The wonder of these artistic works is that “each ancient bonsai represents the combined efforts of a succession of master bonsai artists. These trees thus likely represent the most sustained efforts of any known art form.” Renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer was responsible for compiling this collection of photographs of bonsai. By employing a pitch-black background, the photographer created work that appears to float in space, a somewhat startling and fantastic approach to the subject.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden