As the birds and art dealers fly south to Miami, I wanted to present a post-Black Friday book list. A year ago, some friends and I started an Art Book Club. Our group has covered a title every 2 months or so. Below are the books we have read with a few words on each followed by a potential reading list of non-fiction art texts. Some of the list is academic but most of it is personal and idiosyncratic.
Like my Goldfinch list (fiction about art, specifically focused on a single work of art), this is incomplete in many ways. Please send notes, offer suggestions and let me know what we shouldn’t miss!
Tompkins brief and light-hearted interviews with Duchamp make this a great quick read. The Bride and the Bachelors covers some of this territory but it is a great chance to get to know Duchamp in his own words.
From my Atlas post on this book: Lawrence Weschler’s 1982 book Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, (now available in an updated 2008 version) is a portrait that exemplifies the record we hope to read for an artist whose work is often impersonal. We begin to see how acutely individual and personal it all really is. Irwin sees and in turn finds opportunities to make us see. This book has been recommended to me for a very long time. Maybe because I didn’t know what was in store, I put it off. Had I known how engaging and insightful it was, I never would have waited so long.
This book was a bizarre failure. It is an amalgam of interviews with a sparse editorial vision by Vyner. The chopped up interviews can be dull but sometimes Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger enliven them. Claes Oldenburg, Richard Hamilton and Jim Dine figure prominently. If anything, you can use this book to figure out all the various ways Brits of a certain vintage call someone Queer without actually saying it.
This is a strange book to be considered as an authoritative text on photography. Barthes has just lost his mother and pines for her in an old photograph. It is sad. On the other hand he takes a boldly personal stance on portraiture photography that reaches far beyond his place in the canon of semiotics.
Camera Lucida is the shortest book or the longest eulogy depending on how you read it. Geoff Dyer’s introduction in the most recent edition may be enough to serve as Cliff Notes so you don’t have to slog through the tears.
Our list of books to read:
Fire in the Belly on David Wojnarowicz, by Cynthia Carr
Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell by Deborah Solomon
DeKooning: An America Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
The Bride and the Bachelors by Calvin Tompkins
The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov by Mira Schor
The Girl with the Gallery: Edith Halpert by Lindsay Pollack
Daybook by Anne Truitt
The Gift by Lewis Hyde
Trickster Makes this World by Lewis Hyde (Author of The Gift)
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of
Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler
Miraculous by Raphael Rubinstein
Theory and History:
– Jeff Bergman December 2014