There is a dislocated loneliness in being unmoored, in drifting away from connections and places until you become stuck somewhere again. Andrew Zornoza’s Where I Stay, published in 2009 Tarpaulin Sky Press, is a both spare and sprawling interpretation of this feeling. His compact prose set to the rhythm of poetry is paired with stark black and white photographs capturing the scraps of the country seen by an unnamed narrator as he wanders the American mid- and southwest.
In July 1985, the British poet, editor and critic Ian Hamilton submitted the manuscript for J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life to his editors at Random House. Three years later, in May 1988, after countless depositions, preliminary injunctions, affidavits and court appeals, Hamilton’s truncated In Search of J. D. Salinger was published. This was the “legal” version of his original biography, rewritten and wiped of all quotations from Salinger’s letters that Hamilton had included, and starring now the biographer himself as the main character on a thwarted quest to write the life of America’s most famous recluse.
Who cares about bad graffiti or street art? The spray paint scrawls of ill-chosen tag names (“Piggy Nasty,” “Pony Tail,” “Tricky Trout, Jr.”), reckless vulgarity (penises and boobs drawn on absolutely everything), and sad drawings that barely shape into the animal, face, or whatever they’re trying to be, who cares about all that? Usually these aerosol-on-concrete creations just fade into our visual background without a second glance, but artist Scott Hocking has recognized them for the masterpieces of mediocrity that they are in a photography book appropriately called Bad Graffiti, released in December 2012 by Black Dog Publishing.
The Aperture Foundation publishes beautiful photography monographs that are designed to look more like a portfolio than a book; such is their emphasis on image plates over explanatory text. The Factory of Dreams: Inside Televisa Studios, one of Aperture’s recent publications featuring the Brooklyn-based photographer Stefan Ruiz, is a monograph that presents a single body of work. The Factory of Dreams is a collection of photographs Ruiz began working on eight years ago, depicting one of Mexico’s largest exports: televised fantasies of “love, wealth, and betrayal.”
You’ve probably seen Irving Harper’s work even if you don’t know his name. His “Ball Clock” made for the Howard Miller Clock Company is an icon of mid-century Atomic Age design; his Marshmallow Sofa, created in the 1950s/60s for Herman Miller, is a continuously popular and curious piece of furniture with its connected circular cushions. He is one of many designers whose name was buried by their branded studio, in his case George Nelson Associates where he worked from 1947 to 1963. Yet his work in another medium, paper, has been even more overlooked, largely because it’s rarely been exhibited outside his home in Rye, New York.
In his note to this collection, the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi (1943–2012) refers to the 14 pieces as “drifting splinters.” These “fragments of novels and stories,” he writes, “have a larval nature.” They are “sketchy compositions,” “quasi-stories,” and “background noise.” Despite the author’s misgivings, a “residual pride,” plus “the chance of a few meagre words,” led him to gather and publish.
The love letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz number upwards of 25,000. It’s such a prolific amount, it makes you marvel that they had any time at all to live the lives they did. The first published volume of their correspondence is some 700 pages, and it captures all the intimacies and intangibles one suffers for, because of, or in spite of love. It is also a valuable source of art history, self-help, bad spelling, and indulgent use of the em dash.
So, let’s just go for it. What the hell happened in art history after the 1950s when the real, discrete art movements started to break down? That’s right — we’re taking the bull by the horns here, tackling the big questions.
LOS ANGELES — Brazilian Art under Dictatorship, a new book by John Jay College’s Claudia Calirman, takes a look at the works of three artists: Antonio Manuel, Artur Barrio and Cildo Meireles. These artists worked during the height of Brazil’s most repressive military regime in the late 1960s and early 70s.
In 2009, Stephen Burt identified a new poetics for the twenty-first century, a poetics that insists on a kind of phenomenological permanence and solidity, on a material “thingness” rather than a “showy insubstantiality.” In his widely read essay “The New Thing,” Burt argues that there has been a marked shift away from a poetry of “illogic” and “associative leaps,” which dominated the 90s, toward a poetry of “[r]eference, brevity, [and] self-restraint,” toward an aesthetic that “eschew[s] sarcasm and tread[s] lightly with ironies.” After judiciously analyzing an array of compressed poems by writers such as Jon Woodward, Devin Johnston, and Graham Foust and after connecting the New Thing’s concern with exteriority to the documentary modes of Mark Nowak and Juliana Spahr, Burt takes a preliminary stab at historicization…
The memoirs penned by the late Andy Warhol (with help from his assistant Pat Hackett), The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: from A to B and Back Again, Popism: The Warhol Sixties, and the Andy Warhol Diaries, are more like an extension of his artwork than they are great works of prose.
At roughly 350 pages, Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, is a conceptually massive, literally heavy and generally ambitious catalogue that questions our expectations of what an exhibition catalogue should be.