Making Choices, 1929, 1939, 1948, 1955; various, The Museum of Modern Art New York, 2000.
I was drawn to this book, initially, by the title ‘making choices.’ It’s something I find interesting in relation to art. Today, someone who makes good choices can be called an artist. Duchamp once said that in the future, the artist will simply be someone who points.
Making choices is also the job of the curator. This book selects four separate dates in the early 20th century, and sources from the museum’s collection interesting images/objects from each of those years - architecture, design, drawings, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and, interestingly, film stills. The process becomes an act of selection - choice making - and extreme refinement.
Lots of nice images here to stuff your eyes with. Good one, MOMA.
Adalgisa Lugli; Assemblage. Adam Biro, 2000.
Written in French but I don’t feel I could appreciate many of the images here much more than as they are, without or without words.
The Joseph Beuys is particularly nice, an observation which I’m very glad to make. I’m no expert but I have never felt especially moved by Beuys despite my (moderate) interest in Fluxus. That’s probably quite a controversial statement to make (everyone seems to love the guy) but I really liked what I found in this book - an image from him I want to hold onto. It’s just a simple rusty shelving unit with objects placed on it. No doubt this is a conceptual piece - the dilemma is that without the text (and me being me) I’m viewing it largely through the eyes and not the brain. Does the act of viewing conceptual art require the viewer to consciously switch gears? Do I have to change the way I am inclined, by instinct, to look at things (by feeling not meaning)?.
Sometimes when confronted by something like this, I think I should make an effort. Sometimes I don’t. But is an effort always required? Does viewing conceptual art demand a different perceptive engagement, a different way of looking? Must the viewer be in tune with the work in a way that is necessarily sensitive to its intentions? There is probably something to ‘get’ here, however I’m in no rush to discover it, only because I’ve discovered my own interest, my own meaning in the image. Is that a justified experience to have?
I guess this is what I always found tiresome about criticism/interpretation despite my gravitation towards the reviews section in the paper. I could only hack it for a month at the Edinburgh Festival before I had to bow out, exhausted and depressed. Where is Susan Sontag when you need her (again, the irony).
There is also a great chapter in this book called ‘une palette d’objets’ and another - ”l’esprit des objets.’
A Century of Artists Books; Riva Castleman, The Museum of Modern Art, 1994.
Exhibition catalogue. Compare and contrast with previous post.
Wish I could photograph every page - amazing stuff here.
Artists’ Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000 (The Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books); Robert Flynn Johnson, Thames and Hudson, 2002.
My favourite books are about other books. Clear signs of bookaholism.
Picasso and the Allure of Language; Susan Greenberg Fisher, Yale University Press, 2009.
Beautifully organised book documenting Picasso’s relationship with language; an in depth look at his illustrative work, letters of his, and his involvement with Surrealist poetry. An inspiring look at the way in which he treated words as images - an idea that always interests me.
It goes without saying that Picasso was important but I think it’s the sheer consistency in quality that is really astounding. He was constantly re-inventing himself yet I’ve never looked at anything he did and felt disappointed. With Picasso, there is never a ‘lack’. Everything, every last scribble, feels sort of potent with an energy that was all of his own.