Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writers on Artists

Writers on Artists

In association with Modern Painters
DK Publishing, Inc. (2001)

Billed as "A collection of great writing on art by some of the world's leading novelists, poets, critics, and artists from the pages of Modern Painters magazine. Foreword by A.S. Byatt"

I got this book from the library last week and it's great. It consists of reviews and interviews from eighteen years of Modern Painters magazine. I've read only a few so far, dipping here and there into some that jumped out (e.g. David Hockney on Picasso, Matthew Collings on Jeff Koons), but now I've started over at the beginning and am reading it all the way through.

Many of the articles are interviews and this makes the book fresh and up to date and compelling. For instance, Matthew Collings asks Jeff Koons whether he really means what he says, and goes on, "It's like a fairground spiel, isn't it? -- the 'Jeff Koons Show'? Koons says, "Absolutely. This is 'Jeff Koons Entertainment.' I believe in art as a communicative device that's part of the entertainment world. It participates in 'showtime.' It just draws a slightly different audience than other entertainment vehicles."

Later in the interview MC asks, "What about more old fashioned artists who just want to paint Nature and the model in the studio and so forth?" JK says, "Well, if they weren't allowed to do that, then that's the thing we'd all want to start doing . . . there has to be this conservative aspect of course. If it was banned then pretty soon radical artists would be moving into that void. Somebody's got to maintain it, otherwise we'd all be back in there fighting for Nature again."

Each article consists of about 2,000 to 3,000 words, and is generously illustrated. The pictures have all the necessary information -- date, medium, size in inches and cm, and location.

The book contains 40 of these articles in all, making it a substantial and satisfying read. Here's a few selected writers/artists from the list which is too long to type in full: Howard Jacobson on Andy Warhol, Germaine Greer on Paula Rego, Jed Perl on Henri Matisse, Will Self on Damien Hirst, Julian Barnes on Edgar Degas, David Bowie on Tracey Emin, A.S. Byatt on Patrick Heron, Jules Olitski on Himself, Seamus Heaney on Barrie Cooke, and many more. Enjoy!


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