If you know me, you know I am a reader and a walker. When I looked through the books I read in 2022 (78 – not a record), I was amazed that less than 10% of the books I read were art related. So – 2023 is my year to devote more of my downtime to art.
EVERYTHING SHE TOUCHED: THE LIFE OF RUTH ASAWA by Marylin Chase – I fell in love with Ruth Asawa’s work the first time I laid eyes on it. In this book, you follow her early years on a California farm, surviving the Japanese-American internment camps, attending BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE finally developing her beautiful wire sculptures. She raised six multi-racial children and was the driving force of founding San Francisco School of the Arts. An interesting life. As an added bonus there are 60 images of her work.
FIERCE POISE: Helen Frankenthaler in the 1950’s New York by Alexander Nemerov – Inspired by reading NINTH STREET WOMEN last year, I found this book which focuses on her time in New York in the 1950’s. While it is devoted to only one decade of her life, there is a lot in it!
LARRY RIVERS – ART AND THE ARTIST By Larry Rivers -A good overview of both his work and his life, but I find myself very curious about this artist. Why? From one line in the book NINTH STREET WOMEN – he dropped out of THE JULLIARD SCHOOL to pursue music full time. It is rumored he had a stage built in his studio and would invite jazz musicians over. I want to learn more about him.
MARK BRADFORD – PICKETT’S CHARGE – by Stephanie Aquin and Evelyn Hankins – I was lucky enough to see this exhibit at The Hirsch Museum in Washington DC. Eight paintings (heavily collaged) extend nearly 400 hundred feet in 360-degrees on an entire floor. Great companion piece to an exhibit.
Last year I discovered KANOPY.COM, which is available to virtually anyone with a library card. I started watching art documentaries while taking a break in my studio. Here are a few of them.
FULLY AWAKE: BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE by Cathryn Davis Sommer and Neeley House – The first feature length documentary about the famous school outside of Asheville, NC, it explores it’s unique educational style and how the school influenced collaboration and exploration. In fact, I plan on taking a tour of the grounds this spring, so I’ll rewatch it. (1 hour – available on Amazon Prime and Kanopy).
GRACE HARTIGAN – PORTRAIT OF AN ABSTRACT PAINTER – Did you know the first painting she ever sold was to MOMA? In this film, you will see how Hartigan broke through the “glass ceiling” and shattered boundaries along the way. She refused to be pigeon-holed into one style of painting and left New York just when the interest in her work was at a peak. AS an added bonus, there is an interview with her interspersed throughout the film. (produced by Amica Productions. on KANOPY.com – 36 minutes)
LOUISE BOURGEOIS, THE SPIDER, THE MISTRESS, THE TANGERINE – Bourgeois talks about how her life history always impacted her work. Filmed between 1993-2007, the artist remains spry, discussing her materials and her work. I’m not going to tell you what the tangerine means, you have to watch it yourself (hint: it is about her abusive father) Available on Apple TV and KANOPY. (1 hour 37 minutes)
KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE – This follows the artist beginning a project of painting a series of classical portraits – of African-American women. You see the project as it unfolds as he approaches strangers on the streets of New York to cast them in as models. He teams up with Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, who creates the costumes the women wear. 60 minutes, available on Apply Play (currently unavailable on Amazon ) – I happen to own a copy.
BRICE MARDEN – Filmed in 1977 and consists of interviews with the artist, beginning with the statement “Living on islands leads you to think in certain ways.” He goes on to explain why the lights and the planes were so different on Manhattan and the island of Hydra in Greece. We see him working using beeswax, razorblades to creat dense works. Available on KANOPY – 20 minutes long.
As a walker (I walked roughly 1700 miles in 2022) I often listen to podcasts. Sometimes it is MURDER, sometimes music, but often art. These are a couple that stood out to me.
DEATH OF AN ARTIST – Did the sculptor Carl Andre push his wife, up and coming artist wife Ana Mendieta, out of their 34th floor window? It is a 35 year old mystery. He was actually charged with murder and the art world took sides. Six episodes explore this story. However, the seventh episode gives you a lot to think about in the art world – focusing on the treatment of women and people of color – complete with statistics.
ART CURIOUS with Jennifer Dasal. Jennifer is an associate curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art. She offers fresh approaches to old stories. For example, some titles of podcasts are “Is the Mona Lisa a Fake? Was Van Gogh Accidently Murdered?, Pollock vs. DeKooning – and with over 100 episodes, there is a lot of material here. Most episodes are between 1/2 hour to an hour – perfect for a walk.
INTERESTING FACTS I UNCOVERED
- Brice Marden’s first wife was the sister of Joan Baez.
- Larry River’s birth name was Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg
- Vogue magazine once did a story about Black Mountain College, with a picture of Jasper Johns superimposed. There is no record of him ever attending there.
- Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romance novel in 1795, Clisson and Eugénie. It is available on Amazon and has a 4 Star rating.
HAVE YOU READ, WATCHED, OR LISTENED TO ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE? I’m always looking for commendations.
Do you have any books, documentaries or podcasts to recommend? I’d love to know!