Good Reading

Whose Muse? Art and the Public Trust, edited by James Cuno – this is a collection of essays by prominent museum directors and gives a good glimpse into the issues and politics of museums.

On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry – a beautiful (ha!) meditation on aesthetics and how an experience with beauty can shape us (though I could have done without the coda of Scarry trying to draw Matisse paintings – this part of the book added nothing to her arguments).  I googled Elaine Scarry in images and guess what?  She is beautiful!

Pictures and Tears by James Elkins – Elkins interviewed loads of people about whether or not they have wept in front of a painting.  This is a great read, though I disagree with Elkin’s somewhat trenchant opinion about knowledge informing (or rather disinforming) our ability to be moved to tears in front of a painting (see my post Emotion, or lack thereof).

Remarks on Colour by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Selected Writings, volumes 1 – 4, by Walter Benjamin

The Birth of the Museum, by Tony Bennett (not the singer) – the evolution from curio cabinets and princely collections to the public museum.  Bennett also has a good discussion about fairs and amusement parks.

Civilizing Rituals, Inside Public Art Museums, by Carol Duncan – excellent information about the evolution of the museum and the history of hanging paintings (see my post Gentlemanly Hang). The last chapter The Modern Museum:  It’s a Man’s World seems out of place with the rest of the book and is a reductive, feminist rant, not at all in keeping with the rest of the very well-researched book.

Spiral Jetta, by Erin Hogan – this is a great book! Recently review by the New York Times Book Review, it’s Erin Hogan’s travel memoir through the West and Southwest as she bravely drives her Volkswagon Jetta from one piece of land art to the next, encountering authentic American characters (sometimes a bit à la David Lynch) on the way.

Art as Experience by John (Papa) Dewey

John Dewey and the Lessons of Art by Philip W. Jackson (not the Bull’s former coach) – this is a good book to read in order to get an understanding of Dewey’s theories on “experiencing” art (Art as Experience itself takes a commitment of time and a dose of concentration, John Dewey and the Lessons of Art is a nice short-cut or introduction.

Learning by Heart; Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Steward

Absorption and Theatricality; Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot by Michael Fried. Most repeated word in this book: desideratum

Courbet’s Realism by Michael Fried. Most repeated expression in this book: tout court.

Manet’s Modernity by Michael Fried.  The last in the trilogy of French painting.  No word fetish in this book.  These three are le must for French painting.  His writing is dense and heavy with lit crit jargon, but unlike many heavy, dense, lit-crit stuff his astonishingly original ideas are worth the concentration and patience.

Courbet by James H. Rubin. Informative and easy to read – lots of info on his life. I read the whole book in bed (bloated) the day after Thanksgiving.

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag – this book is about issues regarding war photography and photojournalism (I referenced it in my post on Martha Rosler’s Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful.

Courbet’s Correspondance, edited by Petra Ten-Doesschate Chu

Manet by himself, edited by Juliet Wilson-Bareau

Gerhard Richter, writings

Antoine’s Alphabet, by Jed Perl

Cezanne’s Doubt, by Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  This is an essay in his book Sense and Non-Sense

The Man Who Tasted Shapes, by Richard E. Cytowic, M.D.  A good layman’s book about synastheasia.

The Writing of History, by Michel de Certeau

Les suprises de Fragonard, by Philippe Sollers.  The jury’s still out on this one, I’ve not finished it, and it’s only available in French.