What has the art world been reading during the coronavirus lockdown? Part two

The good book? A detail from Book of Pictures (1910-17) by Kenyon Cox Courtesy of SAAM; Allyn Cox

As the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease in some countries, many are still having to remain indoors to help stem the spread of Covid-19, turning to books—old and new—for entertainment, solace and more. We have asked art professionals from around the world what books have been keeping them company, what new novels they have become engrossed in, and what stalwarts they have returned to.

This round-up continues The Art Newspapers recently launched Book Club, which includes recommendations from art professionals, exclusive extracts and images from the latest catalogues, interviews with authors, and a Book of the Month (coming soon). Specialists, subscribers, regular readers, book worms and dabblers and are all invited to follow us and feedback across our social media platforms.

Jill Medvedow © Liza Voll Photography

Jill Medvedow, director, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Ducks, Newburyport (2019) by Lucy Ellmann “I began the book before the museum closed its doors and it turned out to be one of the great experiences and accomplishments of recent times for me. It is over 1,000 pages, mostly the running inner monologue of a middle-aged woman—a baker, daughter, sister, niece and mother of four—in Newcomerstown, Ohio, whose mind traverses huge swaths of history and culture. Her narration has been compared to Molly Blooms soliloquy [in James Joyces Ulysses], to a Dewey Decimal list of post 9-11 concerns, and to Ulysses. What took me aback is that the demanding focus and attention required by the lack of sentences, periods and paragraphs is buoyantly punctuated by so much delight.”

Lost Children Archive (2019) by Valeria Luiselli “Elegy and archive weave through this family journey layered with poetic and literary references, mortality reports, photographs and posters. Inventive, political, heart breaking.”

Saltwater (2019) by Jessica Andrews “Im reading this debut novel now. She writes about daughters, mothers and love in a direct, raw, and gutsy way.”

Jonathan Watkins, © Courtesy of Ikon; Photo: Jas Sansi

Jonathan Watkins, director, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

The Waiter (2018) by Matias Faldbakken “The long-awaited translation of this novel by Norwegian artist, Matias Faldbakken—he had a solo show at Ikon some years ago, with work that was as cool as it was obsessive, and his writing has the same quality. Plot-wise, nothing much happens, but in a really interesting way.”

Petit Musée (1992) by Alain Le Saux and Grégoire Solotareff “This is a book for children, full of details from wonderful paintings. Our two-year-old boy loves it, oblivious to the fact that it is in alphabetical order in French.”

So Much Longing in So Little Space: The Art of Edvard Munch (2019) by Karl Ove Knausgård “More Norwegians! Knausgård writes like a dream—the six volumes of My Struggle were not a struggle for me—and Munch was as gifted as he was psychologically complicated. In short, irresistible.”

Carlo Crivelli (2005) byRonald Lightbown “This is the most comprehensive book about the 15th-century Italian artist Carlo Crivelli. We are organising an exhibition of his work at Ikon for spring 2022, so Lightbown is essential reading. Plot-wise, a lot happens, including a gaol sentence for the abduction of the wife of a sailor, and the undermining of Modernist art history.”

Stephanie Rosenthal © Photo: Mathias Völzke

Stephanie Rosenthal, director, Gropius Bau, Berlin

Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (2017) by María Puig de la Bellacasa “[The artist] Otobong Nkanga recommended this book to me and it was just the right recommendation in the right moment. We talk a lot about what care could mean? The book looks at different notions of care.”

Nirin: 22nd Biennale of Sydney catalogue (2020) “In one of the first pages there is a quote by Huma Bhaba: When the centre doesnt hold, everything becomes the Edge. The reader is full of wonderful texts and interviews with and from amazing first-nation artists.”

Taxi (2019) by Cemile SahinTaxi by the Berlin-based artist and writer Cemile Sahin is brilliant. It roots into the now and at the same time expels you in another world.”

“And I keep rereading Donna Haraways Staying with the Trouble (2016). It is still one of my favourite books.”

“The other book I went back to is Beatriz Colominas Sexuality and Space (1996). I started thinking especially about the chapter 'The split wall: Domestic Voyeurism' while I was writing my text about Yayoi Kusama. It has nothing to do with her work and still it has.”

“I also finally had some time to read Catherine Woods Performance in Contemporary Art (2018). I very much appreciate her writing and even if I know most of the artists and works, the way she looks at them and creates connections is great.”

Hendrik Folkerts © Whitten Sabbatini, 2018

Hendrik Folkerts, curator of contemporary art, Art Institute of Chicago

Oblomov (1859) by Ivan Goncharov “Rather appropriately, in the first weeks of lockdown I read Ivan Goncharov's novel Oblomov , about the man caught in immobility, inaction and lethargy. It was actually quite comforting.”

Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism (2015) by Bojana Kunst “Thankfully, things picked up a bit with Bojana Kunst's brilliant analysis of the entanglement of artistic labour and (late) capitalist structures, Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism.”

– The Sermon on the Fall of Rome (2012) by Jérôme Ferrari “Timeliness also announced itself in a book that I'd been meaning to read for a while now: Jérôme Ferrari's Sermon on the Fall of Rome, a novel about Corsica, St. Augustine, and about worlds that cease to exist without its inhabitants realising it.”

Acts of Voicing (2015) edited by Hans D. Christ et al. “A great book to read in-between incessant Zoom meetings is Acts of Voicing, about the physicality, poetics, and politics of the voice, from an astonishing range of perspectives.”

Screaming Hole: Poetry, Sound and Action as Intermedia Practice in the Work of Katalin Ladik (2017)by Emese Kürti “Last up, and a bit more work-related, is Screaming Hole by Emese Kürti. In preparation for a solo exhibition of Katalin Ladik at Muzeum Susch in 2021, I get to dive into beautiful books like these, which chronicle Ladik's remarkable journey from language to the body, from poetry to performance, from visual scores to photography, from film to theatre, ever moving and expanding.”

Diana Campbell Betancourt © Noor Photoface

Diana Campbell Betancourt, artistic director of Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka

– Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 (2012) edited by Nato Thompson “I believe we are at a time when, more than ever, art needs to step out of the formally designed exhibition space and make an impact in the lives of people who are most suffering from the challenges of Covid-19, who dont have the privilege of visiting museums, art fairs, galleries, biennales. This book is a beautiful source of inspiration of two decades of socially engaged practice.”

– This Earth of Mankind (1980)by Pramoedya Ananta Toer “I am enjoying having time to read epic books of fiction that inspire the work of artists—references that artists spent so much time delving into but that I previously could only grasp on the surface through their artistic interpretations of literaRead More – Source