Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Good Books

I was wondering what art books you guys think are an excellent read. And also, where to get good art books. Amazon does seem to produce a somewhat thorough list even if they don't sell the more obscure titles. Here are some books I've enjoyed;

Point and Line to Plane by Wassily Kandinsky (Dover press) A dogma on non-objective art.

Seeing Out Loud by Jerry Saltz (The Figures press) A collection of art reviews from the Village Voice 1998-2003.

Techniques of the Great Masters of Art (Chartwell Books) A good historical reference spreading 1300-1980 and an incredible investigation and deconstruction of how great works were made. Here's a little excerpt about Cezanne's House of the Hanged Man (Cezanne's palette for this painting, which has been analyzed by the Louvre, included lead white, zinc white, yellow ochre, chrome yellow, and it goes on)


Mark Creegan said...

Right now, I am enjoying a compilation of essays edited by Amelia Jones called "A Companion to Contemporary Art since 1945" (Blackwell Publishing).

This is the most inclusive and wide ranging survey of contemporary art I have ever seen. The first few chapters follows the issue chronologically (50's abex- 2005),covering some really diverse viewpoints and not-so-typical artists. The second half deals with topics and theory such as Marxism,Postcolonialism, Feminism, mass culture, etc. I really recommend. If I ever taught a course on cont. art THIS would be the textbook for sure!

Another book I love is Chromophobia by David Batchelor. I read it right before going off to grad school and it changed my entire perspective on color. It follows a social history of color, the west's aversion to color (at least in upper classes) and even examines color usage in western literature and pop culture such as Melville, the wizard of Oz, and 60's psychedelica. very cool!!

Mark Creegan said...

Hey Zac I is gonna check out yer recommendations too! Cool topic!

CREATEjacksonville said...

I have been looking at
"Dear New Girl or Whatever Your Name Is". Its illustration. Pretty neato.

Anonymous said...

Not reading it now, but would highly suggest anyone who hasn't read it:

Air Guitar
by Dave Hickey

The best book on the art world I've ever read.

zac said...

Cool. Great suggestions. Gonna check 'em out for sure. I wanted to add Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media. It's not an art book, but McLuhan is a visionary comparable to Warhol.

And also, on a lighter side Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile. It's a witty play about a chance encounter of Picasso and Einstein. Really a fun read.

Jaime Verde said...

I'll be quick:

A good critical/historical reference book is the latest version of the Thames and Hudson World of Art series by Edward Lucie-Smith called Movements in Art Since 1945.

A great text about contemporary culture and politics is Surpassing the Spectacle: Global Transformations and the Changing Politics of Art by Carol Becker.

A very witty and spot-on book about modern and contemporary art mythologies and trends is This is Modern Art by Matthew Collings.

A hugely influential book (to me) is called Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art by Lewis Hyde. In this book Hyde brings to life the playful and disruptive side of human imagination as it is embodied in trickster mythologies (Hermes in Greece, Eshu in West Africa, Krishna in India, Coyote in North America, and then holds them up against the lives and work of more recent creators: Picasso, Duchamp, Ginsberg, John Cage, and Frederick Douglass. A major work of modern cultural criticism. I also highly recommend his earlier book called The Gift.

And on a lighter note, I make The Cheese Monkeys by renowned graphic designer Chip Kidd required reading for my 2D Design students.

Mark Creegan said...

Really great suggestions everyome. I loved Air Guitar and have been a Hickey fan ever since. I love watching interviews of him - he is very erudite yet down to earth and fun!

Googled the "Dear new Girl..." and I really want to check that out- it has some illustrations by some great artists.

James,that Trickster books sounds raaly great- I love books on mythology. Which reminds me that another seminal book for me as an undergrad was the Power of Myth, the interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell.

Some other important books for me was Nonsense by Susan Stewart, which examines folklore and literature usage of palindromes, children's rhymes, puns, and anagrams as historical and artistic antidotes to common sense. I think this book helped to open me up to humor and imagination in my work.

Also, my bible has always been Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. I found out artists were actually smart when I found this book. This book began my love of primary source material and artist interviews ( Press Play is a great one for interviews!)

Am i a nerd or am i a nerd?

Jaime Verde said...


Sure, Theories and Documents is my other fat book- right next to Art in Theory 1900-1990. I've actually opened both of them a few times in my day. I shared your revealation upon reading from it- that artists are intellectuals. Carol Becker's first article in Surpassing the Spectacle is all about the artist as a PUBLIC intellectual as opposed to a private one. A lot of our more macho modernist grandads were not very publicly intellectual.

Perhaps it was for the better...

We are nerds.

R.Dolphin said...

Howdy everyone, and thanks for the invite Dr. King ;)

It's a little uncanny this topic came up cuz the exact same question was asked among the San Francisco Art Institute alums (myself being one of them). I've pasted the list we came up with below:

Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical

Freud, The Uncanny

Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood

Robert Frost, The Figure a Poem Makes
(http://www.mrbauld. com/frostfig. html)

Clement Greenburg, Avant-garde and Kitsch
The Plight of Culture

Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation

J.D. Salinger De Daumier Smith’s Blue Period


Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Roland Barthes, Mythologies
Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Jaques Barzun, Use and Abuse of Art

Gregory Battcock, Minimalism

David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Walter Benjamin, Walter Benjamin’s Selected Writings
(Vols. 1,2 &3)
The Arcades Project

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Steven Best and Douglas Kellner Postmodern Theory

Yves-Alain Bois, Formless

Andrй Breton, Nadja
Mad Love

Bill Brewster, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Bill Brown, Things

Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter
Benjamin and the Arcades Project
The Origin of Negative Dialectics
Dreamworld and Catastrophe

Victor Burgin, In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory
in Visual Culture

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About

Jonathon Crary, Techniques of the Observer

Arthur Danto, After the End of Art
The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art

Jean-Franзois De Bastide, The Little House

Guy Debord. Society of the Spectacle
Art and Otherness

Deleuze, The Fold

Marcel Duchamp. The catalog published by MOMA and The
Philadelphia Museum in 1973

David Edmonds & John Eidinow, Wittgenstein’ s Poker

Anton Ehrenzweig, The hidden Order of Art

William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity

Hal Foster's The Return of the Real

Suzi Gablic, The Re Enchantment of Art
Conversations Before the End of Time

Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture

Keith Haring and Robert Ferris Thompson, Keith Haring

Jane Harrison, Ancient Art and Ritual
(http://www.sacred- texts.com/ cla/aar/index. htm)

Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy
Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty

Robert Hughes, Nothing if not Critical
Culture of Complaint

Huysman, Against Nature

Stuart Isacoff, Temperament: The Idea that Solved
Music’s Greatest Riddle

Thurston James, The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting

Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism or The Cultural Logic
of Late Capitalism

Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man

Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual In Art

Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers,
Poets & Philosophers

Joseph Kosuth, Art after Philosophy and After

Rosalind Krauss, Passages in Modern Sculpture
The Optical Unconscious

Donald Kuspit, The End of Art

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space

Margaret Livingstone, Vision and Art

Griel Marcus, Lipstick Traces

David Macey, The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory
(Penguin Reference Books)

Thomas McEvilley, Sculpture in the Age of Doubt

McLuhan, Understanding Media

Ursula Meyer, Conceptual Art

Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel

Yositomo Nara, Lullaby Supermarket

Interviews With Bruce Nauman

Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw: A Working
Plan for Art Study

Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

Erwin Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate

Edgar Allen Poe, The Philosophy of Composition

Otto Rank, Art & Artist

Man Ray, Self Portrait

Gerhardt Richter, The Daily Practice of Painting

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn

Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory

Victor Schklovsky, Zoo or Letters Not About Love

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Thinks You Can Think

Leonard Shlair, Art & Physics

Singerman, Art Subjects: Making Artists in the
American University

Robert Smithson’s Collected Writings

Susan Sontag, On Photography
Regarding the Pain of Others

Susan Stewart, On Longing

Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, Theories and Documents
of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings

David Sylvester, Interviews With Francis Baon

Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows

Davis Thompkins, Art After 1945

Anthony Vidler, Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and

Matthew von Unwerth. Freud’s Dream: Mourning, Memory,
and the History of a Summer Walk

Brian Wallis ed., Art After Modernism

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to
B & Back Again)

Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, The Andy Warhol Diaries

Werne, Museum Inc. Inside the Global Art World

Lawrence Weschler, Seeing is Forgetting (Seeing Is
Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees A Life of
Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin)

Tom Wolf, The Painted Word

Richard Wolin, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of

Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory

---- WHEW!!!

On this list I suggested both After the End of Art and The End of Art by Danto and Kuspit as a nice duo. The two critics have radically different assessments of the contemporary art scene at the moment, with Duchamp and Warhol painted as patron saints (Danto) or the (unavoidable) devils incarnate.

Margaret Livingstone's Art and Vision is a great read for anyone interested in the biology of seeing -- color recognition/central/peripheral vision, etc.

Anonymous said...

Welcome r. dolphin.

Your list is intimidating.

I feel a little like Forest Gump here. I feel like saying.

"Jenne, I might not be a smart man, but I'm a good man."

Maybe I should start another blog for contemporary artists who don't read books? Man I feel stupid.

I do feel that the intellectual potential of the group we gathered here has the power to make real change in Jacksonville.

That if the handful of us that are participating on this could really pool our resources and make it happen.

I was thinking about all of the good work being made here in Jax. That there is little difference between the quality
of work being made here and the work in LA, San Fran, and New York.

What I think we need is an identity. Solidarity. Why would other cities be interested in the work coming out of Jax?
What's special about Jax? Why should other cities take notice? These are some questions we might need to answer.