If you can read in Spanish and are interested in art theory, particularly when it comes to photography and painting, then this is a great book for you...moreIf you can read in Spanish and are interested in art theory, particularly when it comes to photography and painting, then this is a great book for you. At times it gets rather complicated and specific (though not overly so considering the subject matter) so I wouldn't recommend it for beginners. Since I'm a photography student in an art school, I found it very valuable and useful to understand the complex world of contemporary art theory. Overall a very good read.(less)
I bought this book because my Aesthetics professor mentioned it in class. The first thing I noticed is that the cover is absolutely brilliant. As for...moreI bought this book because my Aesthetics professor mentioned it in class. The first thing I noticed is that the cover is absolutely brilliant. As for the book itself, it consists of an essay about how the reproducibility of art changes the way we perceive it and how it relates to the mass media society. This is a classic essay but in my opinion it's still a great read today.
The book also includes two more essays, one on Kafka and another on Proust, which I found very interesting and insightful, albeit unexpected considering the book's title. I did find a few connections between these essays and the one on the mechanical reproduction of art, but not many. It's possible that I'm missing something, and this is definitely a book that I will re-read some time in the future.(less)
Being rather new to the comics world (I only started reading them more steadily last year), I was eager to know more about the medium, and various onl...moreBeing rather new to the comics world (I only started reading them more steadily last year), I was eager to know more about the medium, and various online searches kept pointing to Understanding Comics The Invisible Art (also by Scott McCloud) as a great starting point. Unfortunately, at the time I set out to buy it it was unavailable, so I settled for this one instead.
I have to say I loved it! It really opened my eyes to a lot of details I was missing, or rather, things that I was aware of on an unconscious level, but which make a huge difference when you're aware of them. Even if you don't actually want to "make" comics, this is still a great book to further your understanding of them. My appreciation for the medium and the amount of work that goes to each page certainly improved.
If I had to find something wrong with this book, it would be that it only scratches the surface on most points - but then again, the book describes itself as a starting point, and throughout the book you get many pointers from the author to further your knowledge of what's being discussed. Also, one has to keep in mind that this is only one of the three books Scott McCloud wrote on the subject, so what's missing from this one is probably explained in the others (which I will definitely be checking out).
I also love that this was written and presented in comic book form. It makes it a very fun read, while still being informative. Overall, it was everything I expected it to be.(less)
Background: I ordered this book a few months ago, when I decided I wanted to focus my studies on the theoretical side of art. In order to start practi...moreBackground: I ordered this book a few months ago, when I decided I wanted to focus my studies on the theoretical side of art. In order to start practicing my writing more seriously, and having never had any formal training, I wanted a book that could guide me in the right direction, not too advanced nor too basic, and which could be a good reference in my future academic research. After looking around for a bit, I settled for this one, which appeared to have the most interesting contents and best reviews.
Review: Art criticism can be a daunting subject. Many times I've gone to an exhibition or read an art book and felt bewildered by the seeming impenetrability of the language used by the critics and art historians. On the other end of the spectrum, I have come across texts that not only deepened my understanding of the artworks, but also made me appreciate things I would normally never cast a second glance at. Short Guide to Writing About Art, A aims at those who wish to write the latter type of texts.
Written in a concise and clear language, this book is clearly aimed at art students, and is great for those, like me, who have some kind of background in art but who are just starting to write. The initial part of the book, which includes sections such as "Why Write about Art?" and "The Relevance of Context: The Effect of the Museum and the Picture Book", focuses on teaching the students to look at art and to organize their thoughts, ideas and opinions, and the best way of expressing them. The author makes a point of explaining that, if your audience doesn't understand (or misunderstands) what you wrote, most likely the problem is in your writing. He goes on to explain all the little things that one rarely thinks about or even notices, but which make all the difference when reading, and end up separating a great writer/critic from a mediocre one.
The guidelines presented are adapted to various situations, for example, exhibition catalogs, reviews and essays. The book covers everything from giving your own opinions and having a personal style, to the specifics of looking at the different art mediums. Towards the end, the author focuses more on the technical side of writing, including formats, language and research. It is, in short, a reference book and a how-to book combined into one. The points and guidelines presented can be applied to any kind of writing, not just art criticism.
The only complaint I have is that towards the end, the explanations about grammar, form and bibliography explanations got very heavy and the book ends on that note, which is a shame because the rest is so clear and easy to read. Because of the density of information it took me longer than usual to read this book - two months as opposed to, say, a week (granted, those two months included a trip to Paris and another to Cuba, in which I did no reading, but still). Nevertheless, I recommend this to every art student, and to everyone who wants to learn about looking at and writing about art.
What's Next: I'm really happy I bought this book. It was exactly what I needed to initiate my path towards being a better writer. I plan on checking out some of the books and resources mentioned throughout this one.(less)
Background: I had never heard of this book until I got it as a gift for my birthday last month, but I have been a huge fan of Dave McKean's work since...moreBackground: I had never heard of this book until I got it as a gift for my birthday last month, but I have been a huge fan of Dave McKean's work since I discovered it around four or five years ago, so it was a really nice surprise. I first became aware of his work through the graphic novel Black Orchid, which he made with Neil Gaiman. I remember marveling at the beautiful panels in that book and wondering who this amazingly talented artist was. After that, it was only a matter of time until I got acquainted with the rest of his illustrative works. This, however, is the first book I got that wasn't made together with other authors, which got me curious.
Review: Let me be a bit unorthodox and start this review with a conclusion: go buy it. Seriously. You won't regret it, if you're a fan of his work or of the comic / graphic novel genre in general, specially if, like me, you like to see the boundaries of a medium being explored to the limits. That being said...
Pictures That Tick is a collection of short stories, some made of words and images, others of only images, some drawn, some painted, some photographed, some all of the above. The author includes a short introduction to each of the stories, which in itself I found very interesting. In some of them he would allude to what had inspired him to make it, including some references to other artists such as Duane Michals (who happens to be one of my favourite photographers), while in others it seemed like I was staring at written versions of his scattered thoughts. In fact, many of the short stories felt like that - a materialized string of ideas, or stream of consciousness, rather than a story per se - and this is particularly notable in the stories in which he uses no words.
The artwork itself is nothing short of amazing. Dave McKean seems to have mastered many different mediums in a way that many other people can only aspire to. If you're familiar with his work you probably already know this, but it still came as a surprise, to see so many mediums intertwined in such a lovely manner in one single book. The highlights, for me, were "Ash", a story about a girl with a tree growing through her, and "His Story", which follows the life of a boy who had listened to his father's story. It sounds rather simplistic when I put it down in words, but believe me, it's everything but. The book is full of metaphors and word play and little pearls of wisdom which sometimes come in the form of an image. This quote, from "Ash", particularly struck home with me:
She looked out at the other trees, and she realised that her life was one of thousands, any one of which could have been her, she had grown wherever her life had taken her, she had drifted wherever the wind had blown her.
This is a gorgeous, thought-provoking book and I am infinitely glad I came across it. It showcases Dave McKean's talent not only as a visual artist, but also as a skilled storyteller.
What's Next: Some of these stories touched me deeply and still linger in my mind. I now have all his books (including the ones he worked on with other authors) on my wishlist. I sincerely hope he makes another one with short stories such as these.(less)
In the world that surrounds us, there are many smaller "worlds" that regular people don't usually have access to. Some, like th...morePosted on my book blog.
In the world that surrounds us, there are many smaller "worlds" that regular people don't usually have access to. Some, like the medical or forensic experts world, are explored through popular TV shows and mass media culture, so that the general population, not exactly being a part of it, still feels like they have some access and knowledge of it (even if it is of a highly romanticized, flawed and fictionalized account). Such a thing doesn't happen with the art world, the internal workings of which remain virtually shut off from outsiders (with a few exceptions).
Sarah Thornton, the author, is a sociologist who adopts a "cat on the prowl" method rather than a "fly on the wall" one, that is, she immerses herself in the world she is studying, searching for situations and exploring them to their full potential. The access she obtains is remarkable, with some of the major players in the art world as interviewees, and the reporting of a few events that few people ever get to be a part of. This book is divided into seven parts, each depicting "a day" in a different part of the art world: the Auction, the Crit, the Fair, the Prize, the Magazine, the Studio Visit and the Biennale.
I bought this book because, even though I'm technically a part of the art world she describes (I'm taking a Master's degree in Museum and Curatorial studies), there are still a few parts of it that are a mystery to me. The art world is rather schizophrenic, with intense contrasts and polarized beliefs and actions, and the book does a great job presenting this: for example, we have the very rich people who believe art is a commodity versus very poor art students who abhor words like creativity and never speak about money. There's a delicate balancing of these conflicting beliefs, and it's fascinating to see the mechanics behind that balancing.
However, I have to say that the tone of this book was one of exaggeration. In all these stories, the volume is turned up high, and the people described and their actions seem at times so extreme that I started to wonder if they were not caricatures of themselves. It makes it seem like there is no place in the art world for balanced human beings or actions. This is far from the truth (again, I speak from my own personal experience); this probably happens because it's much more interesting to show the extremes than to make space in the book for less sensational situations.
There was also a lot of name-dropping, a few of which weren't familiar to me, so I read this with a search engine in front of me. I actually loved that, since I like learning about new artists and critics, but I imagine that it can get tiresome for some people.
All in all, this is a fascinating book if you're interested in the mechanics of the art world, with an easy to read (but still interesting) language, based on a remarkable research work. Definitely worth it. (less)
Background: I bought this on sale, very cheap, much cheaper than I would have expected, being from such a well-known person as...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: I bought this on sale, very cheap, much cheaper than I would have expected, being from such a well-known person as Tim Burton is. The cover is lovely, and flipping through the pages made me curious.
Review: This is a collection of short stories in the form of poems and illustrations, and they all follow children who happened to be born different. Unnaturally different. The stories are tragic, sometimes cruel, but they all have a little humor thrown into them, so that the result is quite charming. My favourite story is the one that gives the book its name, the one featuring Oyster Boy.
This was an okay book for me. I preferred the illustrations over the poems, since I didn't find them all that special or brilliant (even though there were plenty of metaphors for real world situations). Still, this is a pretty little book that is worth having, specially if you like Tim Burton, though I'm not sure I'd recommend it to someone who isn't familiar with his work.(less)
Part of a collection that aims to study and reflect upon the public and audiences for cultural endeavors, this book, coordin...morePublished on my book blog.
Part of a collection that aims to study and reflect upon the public and audiences for cultural endeavors, this book, coordinated by Fátima Marques Pereira, explores exhibitions and the various themes surrounding this vast area of studies that, unfortunately, has had little critical advances in Portugal.
The book features an array of contributions from many different people, from curators, to artists, to organizers, in varying quality. I specially liked the interview with João Paulo Velez, director of of Communication of the wildly sucessful EXPO 98, the universal exhibition set in Lisbon.
I appreciate how hard it must have been to publish a collection of books in such a specific (and potentially not profitable) topic, and I applaud the initiative.(less)
This book is a collection of essays by a myriad of professionals in the field, selected and edited by Paula Marincola of the Ph...morePosted on my book blog.
This book is a collection of essays by a myriad of professionals in the field, selected and edited by Paula Marincola of the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. As a student of Museum and Curatorial Studies, it caught my eye at the bookstore, and surely enough, less than a month later, in class, we started studying a couple of the essays included.
Theoretically, the essays attempt to tackle the extremely vague and open question that lends itself to the title of the book, and in order to do so, the editor sent a list of questions to the contributors for them to work as they saw fit (this list is available to the reader in the form of a bookmark, besides being part of the cover's original design). However, I found that a lot of the essays didn't actually attempt to answer that question, and instead explored other themes related to curating; that wasn't a problem to me, since they were still interesting and informative, it just feels a bit strange to be told that the book will be something and then find out it's different (if only slightly).
The essays themselves were of mixed relevance and quality. A few of them were in need of revision, with errors in grammar and phrase construction (English isn't my first language and yet I still noticed them), but overall the quality was excellent, and a few of them explored issues and details of exhibition making that I haven't seen explored elsewhere. Ingrid Schaffner's essay on wall text, and Robert Storr's "Show and Tell", were particularly useful.
A great resource for students and professionals.(less)
A book about the wonderful work of Dave McKean for the Sandman comics. There really isn't much else to say - if you love Dave M...morePosted on my book blog.
A book about the wonderful work of Dave McKean for the Sandman comics. There really isn't much else to say - if you love Dave McKean's artwork you will love this book. Each cover has a story, and all the little details will have you stare at the images for a long time. It's interesting to see how his work evolved over the years, and the commentary from both the artist and Neil Gaiman (who also wrote a short story for the book) is funny and insightful.
Definitely worth it if you're a Sandman fan. If you're not, I'm sure you'll be interested in checking it out after you read this book.(less)
I came across this book in my college's library while doing research for an essay on the changing roles and concept of the cura...morePosted on my book blog.
I came across this book in my college's library while doing research for an essay on the changing roles and concept of the curator. It was certainly interesting to be exposed to such different perspectives on curating. There were a lot of opinions I disagreed with strongly, and a few positive and thought-provoking points being made. The field of art curating is still a relatively new one to be studied, and in the sense that everyone is still trying to make sense of it, this is a valuable book that is sure to raise questions.
Recommended for both students and professionals.(less)
Regardless of bad choices in business practice, Polaroid and its cameras remain one of the best things that happened to Photogr...morePosted on my book blog.
Regardless of bad choices in business practice, Polaroid and its cameras remain one of the best things that happened to Photography. Recently, with news of the company shutting down and new enterprises taking over the responsibility to perpetuate the film manufacture, there's been a revival of interest in the polaroid medium, specially for artists and photographers.
This book is gorgeous and of wonderful quality. The essays are interesting, if a little short and superficial. There's no shortage of images, and I felt like the book would have benefited from a tighter selection, as well as less literal pairings. However, there are some true gems throughout, and this is worth it for those who take interest in Polaroids.(less)
Earlier this year I went to a conference in Lisbon in which Jacques Rancière and Hans Belting discussed various problematics re...morePosted on my book blog.
Earlier this year I went to a conference in Lisbon in which Jacques Rancière and Hans Belting discussed various problematics regarding the image. Despite having unfortunately chosen a seat next to a gentleman who kept falling asleep and loudly snoring, I enjoyed the talk, and was intrigued enough to delve into Jacques Rancière’s work (I was already familiar with Hans Belting’s).
The author has some thought-provoking ideas, and he writes in such a clear, logical way that I ended up liking this book a lot, even though I didn’t quite agree with all his points. The book comprises five essays (the results of various talks given all over the world), all of which are highly intelligent, well-developed, and far too long and detailed for me to discuss here, so I’ll just list them briefly.
The first of them, The Emancipated Spectator, is about the problematic of the spectator in the art of theatre, which was interesting to me since theatre is probably the art form I’m least versed in. The author raises some very good points about whether the spectator is passive or active, and if that should be addressed or changed by the actors. Next came The Misadventures of Critical Thinking, which explores the tradition of criticizing art and whether that tradition (or its denial) is relevant nowadays. The Paradoxes of Political Art was one of the most interesting to me, since it delved deep into the contradictions inherent to political, and politicized, art. The last two, The Intolerable Image and The Thinking Image, were closer to the lecture I listened to and focused mainly on images and visual arts.
This is a book well-worth reading, and I also recommend searching for the responses to these ideas by other authors, some of which can be found online.(less)
This book aims to be a thorough guide to the principles of exhibition designing, from trade fairs to museums and galleries.
While it touches upon many interesting themes, I felt that it was lacking in several areas - the information is a bit disorganized and for the most part it doesn't go into detail about the things that are being explained. A lot of the schematics, while visually impressive, lacked explanations and context, and most of the times the labels were so small they were unreadable. But the biggest problem I had with the book is that it makes no apparent separation between trade / commercial exhibitions and art exhibitions. Say what you will, I'm not so cynical as to think that what you're hoping to reach with an art exhibition in a museum is the same as from a trade fair exhibition where you sell products.
Still, this was fairly useful in giving an introduction to aspects of design I didn't know a lot about.(less)
A thorough and sobering look at the business of museums and galleries and what it is really like working in this field. The art...morePosted on my book blog.
A thorough and sobering look at the business of museums and galleries and what it is really like working in this field. The art world sometimes feels like a confusing place, and it's hard to plan a career because nobody seems to have followed the same route to where they are, erroneously leading one to think that everything depends on luck. So it's refreshing to read a practical study, with interviews and case studies from people in the field.
The only negative point is that it's very UK centric, but I guess that's to be expected. All in all, a very useful read, highly recommended if you're starting out.(less)
A catalogue-like book made by the Serralves Museum in 2009, when they made their first major exhibition fully focused on the ar...morePosted on my book blog.
A catalogue-like book made by the Serralves Museum in 2009, when they made their first major exhibition fully focused on the artworks they have in their collection. Besides photographs and documents, this book also features essays on Serralves' history and the logic behind the collection. Very informative for those who are interested in knowing a bit more about the museum.(less)
Selected transcripts from Joseph Beuys' intervention at Documenta V, in 1972.
Beuys is a controversial figure - it's easy to be ambivalent not just to...moreSelected transcripts from Joseph Beuys' intervention at Documenta V, in 1972.
Beuys is a controversial figure - it's easy to be ambivalent not just towards him, but also towards his art. I believe that you can’t separate the art from the artist, and this is especially true in the case of Beuys. He implicitly defended this idea himself, by discussing his art in the context of his life experiences. The introduction does a good job at addressing the controversies, even if it's written in a language that has too many flourishes for my taste (something that I’ve noticed is quite common in Portuguese art writing).
The conversations themselves are at times lucid and thought-provoking, other times confusing, the ideas truncated, enunciated and shot down in the next turn of phrase. Still, it must have been a truly unique experience, and the book captures part of it and transforms it into something new. Recommended.(less)