Posted inBooks

Richard Baker, Physiognomist of Our Past and Future

Richard Baker is best known for his still-life paintings of tabletops, often tilted at impossible angles and covered with out-of-print art books and other bric-a-brac, such as ceramic pots, to-go food containers, candy bars, and tulips. Ranging from the lowbrow Learn to Draw by Jon Gnagy (Mr. “Learn-To-Draw”) to the hefty catalogue of the exhibition Paris-New York (1977) — the year the artist graduated from high school — Baker’s non-hierarchical representations form an inventory of the books that have, at different times, been central to his ongoing education, stretching from when he was a teenager until the present.

Posted inBooks

Words in Worlds of Light: Joseph Donahue’s Dissolves

Not only fragments and filaments, but also liturgies and litanies embed themselves in Joseph Donahue’s Terra Lucida, a chain of poetic assemblage that both embodies and breaks free of given notions of the long poem. While the formal designs of that thematic behemoth can be ascribed to his project, Donahue’s abrupt transitions, radical breaks, and vertiginous frames disrupt the cohesion and narrative continuity on which the genre depends. Rarely in contemporary poetry has the couplet served so astonishingly as a centrifugal mechanism, as bonding agent to the lines, serving to contain and unite its pressurized contents — “all those/tatters of the creation” mediated “in this aberrant rendition” — which seem at any moment threaten to break apart.

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Salman Rushdie Says, “Art Is Not Entertainment … It’s a Revolution”

During last night’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write event, writer Salman Rushie talked about the fact that censorship exists to change the subject. When it is introduced in the realm of art, it becomes the subject; the attack onto the work becomes the work. As Rushdie said, “Assumptions of guilt replace assumptions of innocence.” The question redirects to, why are artists so troublesome?

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Going Through the Stacks at the 2011 New York Art Book Fair

Now in its sixth year, the New York Art Book Fair, which takes place at MoMA’s hipper sister in Queens, PS1, from September 30 to October 2, features more than 200 exhibitors from Ireland to South Korea. Presented by Printed Matter, the fair is the world’s premier event for artists’ books, contemporary art catalogues and monographs, art periodicals and artist ‘zines. Exhibitors include international presses, booksellers, antiquarian dealers, artists and independent publishers from around the world. As a person susceptible to panic attacks, it is sensory overload city.

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Digging Into Ai Weiwei’s Online Diary

Reading through detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s blog, recently translated by Lee Ambrozy and published as an eponymous book by MIT Press, isn’t fun, and it’s not for the faint of heart. A carefully selected culling of the artist’s massive production of posts between 2006 and 2009, the volume is a guts-and-all portrait of the man who is in all likelihood the most important artist working in the world today. That he remains arrested without charge by the Chinese government only heightens the strained urgency of Ai’s posts, an avalanche of “writings, interviews and digital rants,” as the book’s tagline puts it, that range through political philosophy, aesthetic inquiry and simple documentation of daily life.

Posted inOpinion

Alternate Realities in a Single Book Cover

Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s latest book, 1Q84, has become a blockbuster hit in the author’s native country, but the English edition is still forthcoming. As a preview, Knopf has released images of the book’s cover, by famous graphic designer Chip Kidd. Using transparent vellum as a jacket, the cover represents the book’s engagement with alternate realities.