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Read, Read, Read:
Travel time is reading time. Put away the coffee table books.
They’re only for decoration after all. Here the ArtMag editorial staff
recommends books on art that you can take with you on tour or read on
the train. Books that address current discourse, that are educational
or simply beautiful.
Art Books for Beach, Bed, and Balcony
He is the philosophy star of the current art scene. Armen Avanessian is a co-founder of Speculative Realism, which has fueled the Postinternet generation. Miamification, which he wrote during a two-week artist residency in Florida, is a cool, fast-paced thought diary. It is an index of contemporary buzzwords: Trump, Big Data, immigration, Postinternet, Post-Capitalism. We live in a new time regime, says Avanessian, in which the future determines the present. His way out: the re-poetization of the world. Create many futures, new realities!
“While I was working on a new book I learned that I have more than 750,000 Instagram followers. That’s incredible considering I don’t even have an email address,” says Iris Apfel. She is a businesswoman, interior designer, and above all a fashion icon. As the first living person who is not a designer, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted an exhibition to her fashion and accessories in 2005. While her company Old World Weavers, whose customers included Greta Garbo, specializes in the reproduction of antique materials, she was an interior designer at the White House for nine presidents. Now her book Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon brings together over 170 pages personal photos, illustrations, worldly wisdoms, anecdotes, and short essays that give insight into her vibrant, eccentric, always glamorous life.
Disputatious and compelling. Latour’s manifesto touches on three pressing issues that the current art scene is dealing with: climate change, inequality between rich and poor, and migration. And he brings them together into a core thesis: The rich elites have recognized that climate change is in full swing and virtually irreversible. They build walls around the nation state to go offshore and protect what is theirs and a feudal lifestyle. Latour counters such marginalization, and the termination of solidarity, with the idea that we are all becoming increasingly homeless due to the decay of the planet, that as world citizens we all have to become “grounded,” because there is nowhere to take refuge any more.
During her over sixty-year career, she inscribed herself in the history of American photography, yet her biography and private life long remained dark and mysterious – until now. Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography by Julia Van Haaften is the first comprehensive biography devoted to the life and work of Berenice Abbott, who’s works are part of the Deutsche Bank collection. Born in 1898 in the USA, Abbott assisted Man Ray during her studies in Paris in the 1920s, and he recommended that she take up photography. She quickly made a name for herself with her portraits of famous artists and writers, including James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, and Coco Chanel. But when she discovered photographs by Eugène Atgets in 1925, she was so impressed by his pictures of everyday Parisian life that she began chronicling a rapidly changing metropolis herself. With her series Changing New York created after her return to the USA, she laid the foundations for an impressive archive that shows the metamorphosis of this city.
Will Gompertz is England’s most original and influential culture journalist. For seven years he was one of the directors of London’s Tate Gallery, until the BBC made him its first art correspondent. In 2009, he performed a one-man comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival. Since then, Gompertz has been Great Britain’s art teacher – the BBC established an art correspondent position expressly for him. This book brings together everything that makes him what he is. In a clever, profound way, Will Gompertz explains in the best British style what modern art is and why people either love it or hate it. He invites us to go on an entertaining journey from Monet’s water lilies to Van Gogh’s sunflowers, from Warhol’s soup cans to Hirst’s pickled shark. In so doing, he relates stories behind the masterpieces and reveals the artists' secrets.
Blind spots elude awareness, representing something that cannot be shown or seen. For the Nigerian author and art historian Teju Cole, they stand for the poetic relationship between image and language. Cole presented his debut novel Open City in 2011. In it, he has his black protagonist roam through a wounded New York, hit by the aftereffects of September 11 as well as racial and class inequality. In that same year, Cole went blind for a short time. This experience seems to reverberate in his new book, in which he intertwines his photographs and short texts in such a way that the text becomes the Blind Spot of the image and vice versa. What Cole reveals the blank spaces and the complexity of society.
Nightclubs and discotheques are epicenters of pop culture. The avant-garde has met in such spots since the beginning of the 20th century, questioning societal norms and developing new aesthetic strategies. Many clubs become Gesamtkunstwerks where interior and furniture design, graphics and art, light and music, fashion and performance are combined in unique ways. With Night Fever, the Vitra Design Museum has now brought out the first comprehensive overview of the architectural and design history of nightclubs. They range from chic 1960 Italian clubs created by representatives of Radical Design, to legendary New York discos such as Studio 54 and the Palladium, which was designed by Arata Isozaki, to new designs by Rem Koolhaas’ architectural office OMA for the nightclub Ministry of Sound II in London.
In the 1970s, he redefined an entire generation’s view of art. The British art critic and painter John Berger was a gifted author and writer. With his book Ways of Seeing and the BBC series based on it he turned viewing habits on their head. For his novel G., he surprisingly won the Booker Prize in 1972. Berger’s criticism, novels, poems and screenplays did not fit in any category. And he continually questioned traditional interpretations of art and society and the links between them. The collection of texts Landscapes was published shortly after Berger’s death in January 2017. The excellent selection of diverse text genres – essays, short stories, poems, and translations – attests to Berger’s lifelong passion for art, which he viewed as a mirror of the self and for which the brilliant storyteller created a literary monument.
Berlin Studio Conversations. Twenty Women Talk About Art, Berlin 2017
For her Studio Conversations Stephanie Buhmann met artists in their studios in New York and Berlin. In search of content that lies outside the medial fixation on the art market, she talked with them about their philosophies, sources of inspiration, and approaches. A volume is devoted to each city, with 20 artists talking in each. In Berlin, they include such artists like Birgit Brenner and Katharina Grosse, who’s works are part of Deutsche Bank collection, as well as Alicja Kwade and Jorinde Voigt. Among the artists in New York are Shirin Neshat and Carolee Schneemann. Julie Mehretu and Shahzia Sikander, who’s works are part of the Deutsche Bank collection as well, were also invited for “conversations”.