Like many of you, I have ambitions of reading far more books than I possibly have time for. And even though I pride myself on reading beyond what is necessary for my teaching and research, there is always a new and wonderful title I am learning about to add to my wish list. I have featured ten books below that I wanted to share with those of you amassing your own wish list, or looking for something new and intriguing to read. You can also find these titles on my "Books to Explore" Pinterest Board-- I look forward to hearing about any of your suggestions as well. Happy Reading in 2014!
Antawan Byrd and Reid Shier
This Phaidon book got a great deal of buzz locally when Vancouver appeared on the shortlist of cities, along with Beirut, Bogotá, Cluj, Delhi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, São Paulo, Seoul, and Singapore. The text claims to track artists of an emerging “contemporary avant-garde,” so I am very intrigued to see how the authors set out this argument and why these cities in particular make the list.
I absolutely love the “A Very Short Introduction” series and have used these deceptively small texts in both my courses as required and recommended texts, and as recommendations to students seeking understanding in new fields of knowledge. Case in point is this most intriguing slim volume dedicated to examining the notion of “Nothing.” I have had this little gem on my radar for a while—I often think that if I went back to school, I would study the history of science to help unpack these sorts of mind-bending concepts.
I love the daring and renegade nature of many early 1970’s Hollywood films. Think Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, Chinatown, The Godfather etc.. This book chronicles the new wave of American directors of this era (directors such as Francis Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese to name just a few) and how they moved from experimentation and rebellion in film school to success and transformation of 1970’s Hollywood. The research is amazing and based on hundreds of interviews that film critic Peter Biskind did with the who’s who of 1970’s Hollywood.
I have collected the Oxford History of Art series since my time as a student, and this title has somehow been missing from my book shelf. I have long held an interest in the intersections between art and fashion, and this book seems tailor made for such an exploration (and maybe a special topics course in the future!).
Hans Belting, Andrea Buddensieg, Peter Wiebel
I’ve been working on a Global Art History course for some time now, and this book is one of the many contenders for the course textbook and/or source book. The authors have chosen 1989 as the “tectonic year” to begin tracking their narrative about the expansion of international exhibitions and the rising interest in contemporary art worldwide.
I learned of this title on my Twitter feed via a recommendation tweet from Lev Manovich, digital media theorist extraordinaire. Simply put, I will read anything this man thinks is worthy—especially concerning art—I respect him that much.
Love it or hate it, Twitter is now part of our social media lives. Was it William Gibson that said “Twitter is the street. Facebook is the mall”—love that quote! After finally becoming a publicly traded company this year, the story of Twitter’s beginnings is getting a written treatment, and from all the buzz surrounding this book, it sounds especially juicy.
I have a real love of the food literature genre, especially the kind of adventure food narratives of the Jeffrey Steingarten and Anthony Bourdain variety. I actually first heard about this book listening to an interview with the author Dana Goodyear on a New York Times Book Review podcast, and was drawn in with her discussion about how the mainstreaming of foodie culture and the culinary “avant-garde” are revealing anxieties about global food security and access to clean, non-government regulated food. This whole snout to tail phenomenon of recent years is especially interesting to me since the food of the “old world” poor is now lauded as gourmet, while the real food of the poor, fast food, is largely ignored by food snobs. No doubt I think there is something really worthy to consider about class and access through a book like this.
This book has been on the top lists of many respected art bloggers and journal editors since late last year. Essentially, it is a collection of essays by forty working artists about what their day to day lives look like inside and outside the studio. Working with so many young art students and artist colleagues/friends, I am especially looking forward to reading this book so that I can gain more insight, inspiration, and practical information about the challenges and realities of being a creative working person today.
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Finally, a book treatment about Degas’s ballerinas and the underbelly of the late nineteenth century Paris Opera. Whenever I lecture about the Degas ballerinas and reveal how the artist was commenting on the prostitution that ran rampant behind the closed doors of the Paris Opera, students are often shocked and in disbelief. How could images so seemingly innocent and beautiful tell the story of such sordidness? This book, written by a Canadian author, is on the top of my must-read list before I lecture on nineteenth century art later this year.