Tag Archive "book-reviews"


Book review – Ai Wei Wei: Dropping the Urn, Arcadia’s catalog for its 2010 exhibit

This is a superb book worthy of a museum. A catalog of the 2010 exhibit by the same name, the book was produced by little Arcadia University Art Gallery, whose talent always seems to match its ambitions.   With 5 essays, a great Q&A with the artist from 1995 and lots of photos, the 125-page book adds a lot to the discussion about the important Chinese dissident artist.  Ai Wei Wei, who in his interview speaks in pithy Confucian epigrams, is in fact known almost as much for his writings and dissidence as for his conceptual and epigrammatic art.

Brian Peterson, image courtesy of Michener Museum website

Summer book beat – Brian Peterson’s memoir, The Blossoming of the World

My pile of books is heavy with local fare: In addition to Brian Peterson’s memoir, the books that catalog recent local shows like Arcadia University’s Ai Wei Wei exhibit, the ICA’s Sheila Hicks exhibit and the multi-venue Philagrafika festival.  More on those in another post. The Blossoming of the World, Brian Peterson‘s follow up to his 2010 memoir, The Smile at the Heart of Things, is a book quite like the first memoir, in which the artist and Michener Museum Senior Curator weaves together biographical material and photographs (a mix of snapshots and fine art photos he’s taken over the ... More » »

Installation shot from the opening, ICA, Anne Chu and Matthew Monahan, Mineral Spirits

Book review – Q&A’s done well, Mineral Spirits, Thomas Nozkowski, Paul Cava

Exhibition catalogs often include an interview with the artist along with an in-depth essay or two. Of course there’s also those glossy color plates like eye candy — all of which makes these documentary books fabulous to look at and read and useful in extending the life of the show. Two recent catalogs (and one show brochure ) that do the Q&A well are the ICA’s slim, notebook-like volume, “Mineral Spirits,” for the Anne Chu and Matthew Monahan exhibit (closing Sunday, Dec. 5); “Thomas Nozkowski,” the catalog for the artist’s exhibit at Pace (closing Saturday, Dec. 4); and “Paul Cava ... More » »


Tragedy, triumph and exploitation – Marwencol, a movie review, and Never Let Me Go, a book review

Beaten almost to death by thugs in 2000 and left with permanent brain damage, Mark Hogancamp’s post-recovery story, told in the new documentary movie Marwencol, is a survivor’s tale in which art plays a pivotal role. The movie is a great, empathetic look at the microcosm of Hogancamp’s life. He’s an odd duck to be sure, but very talented, and, miraculously, a survivor.

front cover

Book review: Black Comix

If you’re looking for a snapshot of some of the black artists creating and selling comix, aka independent comics, check out Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture.


The sporting life – Daniel D’Ottavio’s RUGBY creates monuments of flesh and blood

Athletes make superb photography subjects. In motion, their bodies perform seemingly superhuman tasks that are a thrill to see. At rest, either before or after their feats, athletes’ faces are studies in concentration — or pain. Photos of teams remind us of our pack-ness; our ability to bond with others — or fight. RUGBY, Daniel D’Ottavio‘s book of black and white photos of the New York Athletic Club Rugby Team during their 2008 season is a beautiful tome.  Caveat: I’ve seen it in pdf form only  so can’t speak to the binding, paper, or feel of the book. All I ... More » »

Partial page from the book, showing Beth Heinly and Pumpkinhead (lower right)

The sporting life – Bryan Brown’s First Fight 2, an autobiographical comic

Bryan Brown‘s First Fight 2 — the follow up to his debut comic about his experience in the world of mixed martial arts — shows our hero, a successful Philadelphia artist/illustrator (no superpowers here, but lots of heart),  continuing his fascination with the sport as he goes about his life.

From Bret Syfert's Ladybug book, the boy sleeps, drools, and has a nice educational dream.

Children’s book alert – A ladybug’s dream adventures

In the tradition of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book so much fun kids hardly realize they’re learning about the life cycle of a bug while they read it again and again, here comes “Ladybug and the Awesome Bug Book Adventure” by Bret Syfert, a native Philadelphian now living in London. With its collage of cartoon characters and lush imagery made from photographic collages, the book weaves together a bug’s adventure and a boy’s dream into something educational about bugs in general (only female mosquitoes drink blood; males drink plant juice, etc) and very sweet.


Dana Schutz, the book

Dana Schutz‘s new monograph covering works from 2001-2009 is a nice coffee table book.  With 100 color plates and two short pieces of writing (taking up a scant 9 pages), the book is not a scholarly look at the artist’s work.  She surely deserves that book and it will probably come, say with a big museum show. Meanwhile, for Schutz fans, this book is pure mind-bending eye candy.


Memoirs of an arty nature

We live at a time of unprecedented memoir-izing where people tell all, or as much as they want to reveal (often lots more than a reader wants to know).  Here are two memoirs that have either direct or indirect relationships with the art world.

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