Personal Libraries & Pawel Althamer

October 13th, 2011 § 0 comments

The nice thing about being a book critic, aside from getting to read books that you normally wouldn’t read (or wouldn’t want to read), is that you get to keep them, and therefore build a library. I’ve been getting spoiled lately, wishing I had more books than I actually have, while moving the ones I’ve amassed between several different bookshelves. A while back we created a dedicated book area that now seems to be expanding to other walls and shelves, and I’m already dreaming of the day when one whole area is filled only with art books. The appeal is not just to have them, however, though some are pretty, but to also use them. Currently researching for a review on Eva Hesse, I keep wishing that I had a good collection of writing by the minimalists or Judd, who wrote highly and often about her work. A somewhat forgotten woman in a generation of male sculptors, I keep finding archived articles in the New York Times with titles like “Eva Who?”

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Published—Van Gogh and Vampires

August 4th, 2011 § 1 comment

A part of me wishes that Centerpieces, the latest book by the author Penelope Przekop, and the subject of my latest book review, had actually been what it promised: a historical fiction about Van Gogh. I would have enjoyed it more if it had even reminded me of Van Gogh, his art or life. A cliché artist now as part of the Impressionist/Post-Impressionist pack, he is always an appealing painter. I still remember the old portfolio of Van Gogh prints I discovered during my childhood, hidden away in my mother’s closet. I don’t know where they came from, but finding a whole collection of poster size prints was like finding gold. She let me take them, and for a large part of my childhood colorful, swirling portraits in careful rotation filled my bedroom walls. I’d lie in bed staring at them when I’d take breaks from doing schoolwork. When I started dancing my mother bought me a beautiful Degas print of a little dancer tying her shoe, and framed it on my wall. It’s not terribly surprising that I found myself taking both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in undergrad, where I learned about the dark personalities that made such colorful and seemingly cheery paintings. Both movements were full of moody, brooding men with devoted families they didn’t love. Instead of any of this, however, Przekop gave us vampires, pharmaceuticals, and awkward writing.