November 25, 2013 Repository 107: Top 10 Arty Books | Gift Giving Posted In: art practice, bon mots, books, contemporary art, perspective

In a True Democracy The Many Are Obligated to the Few, Catherine Haley Epstein, available on Amazon.

In a True Democracy The Many Are Obligated to the Few, Catherine Haley Epstein, available on Amazon.

1. In a True Democracy the Many Are Obligated to the Few. My latest publication. On the list because it’s a coloring book and an art project, and everyone should feel like they can have a dialog with, and participate in contemporary art. And if you can’t remember what it feels like to color, let this be a reminder – it’s really meditative and transports you to your most carefree days. Coloring is divine.

2. Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt. Ad Reinhardt was a brilliant thinker and artist, a rare and powerful combo. Mind you he wasn’t clever he was brilliant: he courageously devised major principles in what he believed art is and should be. Once you’ve read his principles you will likely be in a stale mate in the studio deciding your next move.

3. Artempo: Where Time Becomes Art. This book is part of a series of exhibition catalogs accompanying installations at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice Italy. Fortuny was a massive collector at the turn of the 19th century and fan of the wunderkammer. The curators of this show mixed contemporary work seamlessly and unexpectedly with some of the artifacts from the collection. The result is one of the more stunning installations I have ever seen. The book works as a nice surrogate to seeing the work in situ – the texts, like the objects chosen, are a study of time, material, and essence.

4. Art as Therapy. A book by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong, this is an extension from his book Religion for Atheists, where Alain describes the importance of art and how it was used in religions, and should be used by atheists in the same way. The book is being published under the rubric of his School of Life, and it seems to be a text book for using art to make more meaningful connections in life and otherwise. For example, in the Art as Therapy book you will be reminded that yes, you can spice up that weathered relationship by pondering a still life of asparagus by Manet. Really.

5. The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, a collection of Charles Baudelaire’s critical writing from the 19th century. Often cited as the father of modern art criticism, Baudelaire is a poet comfortable writing about all things fashion, art, laughter and drugs. He doesn’t pigeon hole to arts, he simply takes it all in, and sees the connections across disciplines. Very 21st century indeed.

6. Under the Jaguar Sun. After spending much time this year researching senses, particularly fragrance, I was reminded of this gem of a book I read years ago by Italo Calvino. It was the last he wrote before he died – each chapter was an essay on a sense, sadly he only completed three. Literally when you read the chapter on taste, your mouth will salivate….an amazing work in fiction and synesthesia – who knew words could make you smell too!

7. Destination Art. Because all travel should be an art safari.

8. What Is Art and 100 other very important questions. Bought at Documenta book store last year – read in two sittings, left me pondering things like “Why do so many people have a hard time understanding art?” and “When you ask for advice you always get different answers. Who should you believe?” The book is a neither serious nor real discussion on these mile-high questions. Each answer contains a short answer and a long answer. Jet lag plus consuming mountains of heady installations and art projects in Kassel made this a welcome read.

9. 101 Things to Learn in Art School. Published this year by MIT Press the author took liberties as I did with my coloring book, and illustrated his book with his drawings of major art works. The learning points were well framed, some new to consider and some fairly obvious but what one needs reminding of often.

10. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. An irreverent take on the mash up that is creativity. Whether you are making visual art, making music or writing it’s best to learn from those before you: make changes and additions according to you and your time, and don’t think you are ever reinventing the wheel. While the title sounds controversial, it’s terribly comforting taking this approach in your practice – we are not alone.

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