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Summer 2021 Reading Recommendations

by | Jul 13, 2021

Summer is always a good time to reconnect to our desires, reignite old dreams and learn something new. As you might recall from last summer, one of my recommendations was the autobiography of Marina Abramovic. Reading her thoughts, learning about her experiences, and seeing the way she works inspired me to read more artists’ interviews, biographies, and essays. 

During these last months, I have been reading about artists’ perspectives, namely, conversations and interviews with artists. Reading about their passions, motifs and overall sensations allows me to understand the artistic mindset on a deeper level. I recently read two great books, which I would like to share with you.

Conversations with Artists – Seldon Rodman

“if we artists are to survive this period at all – we will survive as spokesmen, never again as entertainers”

– Rico Lebrun

Seldon Rodman, born 1909 in Manhattan, New York, was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, and prose; amongst other things, he also enjoyed writing political commentary, travel adventures, and, especially, art criticism. 

In a straightforward journalistic fashion, Rodman interviews and converses with some of the greatest American painters, sculptors, and architects, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, James Kearns, and Rico Lebrun. This provides us with a glimpse into the astounding scene of the state of the art in America during the early 20th century. Published in 1957, the book covers artists who lived during the great depression and the world wars. It is a statement piece, showing us first hand, how the center of art migrated from Europe to America.

The joy of reading this book is witnessing a transparent conversation between enlightening individuals and one eager, and transparent, Rodman, ready to pounce to question and unveil the truth. However, still weary not to let his ideals seep through the writing of other artistic minds.  Rodman describes the artists’ environment, their spouses, and their community; intimately enough to make you feel a part of it. 

I continue to highlight and mark parts of the book, namely quotes, ways of thinking, or inspiring stories which I guess I will share in the future.

Learning from the makers of American contemporary art, we can appreciate the thought process and the mindset of such characters, and take away one lesson or two.

“Nothing is more poetic than solving a difficult problem with the easiest solution”

– Seldon Rodman

GET IT ON AMAZON

Interviews with American Artists – David Sylvester

“I feel like I brought in a new way of seeing which could not have happened if I hadn’t brought in a new way of drawing” 

Barnett Newman

Born in London, UK, in 1924, David Sylvester was one of the greatest writers on modern art. Though he never studied art professionally, Sylvester was one of the key figures in post-war art in Britain and the United States, capturing the art scene through his influential, sympathetic, and provocative style. 

In a collection of 21 interviews, with some of the well-known figures such as Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, and Jeff Koons,  Sylvester constructs a beautiful collage of the American art scene in the mid to late 20th century. The British author poses insightful yet pressing questions to artists, and with a figure such as himself as the interrogator, we witness open and enriching dialogues that help us relive the history of art, and understand the lives of these artists.

Sylvester doesn’t hesitate to ask the most trivial questions, nor the most controversial ones; through the answers we learn a lot about the creative process, and the artist mentality – two aspects we can all adopt in our daily lives.

GET IT ON AMAZON

Enjoy the summer,

Nir

 

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