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The Museum of Modern Love

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,050 ratings  ·  980 reviews
A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection - a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present.

'This is a weirdly beautiful book.' David Walsh founder and curator, MONA

'Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you h
Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  7,050 ratings  ·  980 reviews

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Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Artists everywhere
Recommended to Robin by: Bianca
What is art?

I love "art", mainly in the traditional sense. The stuff you read, the stuff you listen to, the stuff you find in galleries and museums. I know less than I'd like. I never took an art history course. I haven't read enough on it. I just know with every fibre of my being how important it is to me, and, dare I say, to humanity.

I'm more skeptical of modern art - little jars with a year's collection of pubic hair and toe nail trimmings? No thank you. Yves Klein's monochromes? Nah. Yoko On
Diane S ☔
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Utterly fascinating. I love art, all forms, all ideas, and whenever I encounter a piece of artwork I like, I try to envision what the artist was thinking as he created. Oftentimes will find myself reading up on the artist, trying to understand. Marina Abromovic is a controversial figure in the art world, her live art has certainly drawn attention. Her expose at the MOMA in 2010, the artist is present, Drew some of the largest crowds ever at that museum. A simple table, two chairs, Marina sitting ...more
Larry H
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up.

Fans of 80s music, do you remember Hall & Oates' song, "Method of Modern Love"? The one that went, "M-E-T-H-O-D O-F L-O-V-E. It's the method of modern love..."? Because of a slightly similar title to this book (and nothing else), I couldn't get that song out of my head the entire time I read this! (I'm sure those of you who aren't familiar with the song are wondering what the hell I'm talking about.)

Pardon my digression.

Art fascinates me. While I tend to be a fairly literal
I'm not at all artistic and don't always understand art, in particular performance art, so it was with some trepidation I opened this book not realising what a treat I was in for. I had never heard of the famous performance artist Marina Abramović and her 3 month performance called 'The Artist is Present' at MoMA in New York where she sat absolutely still for 7 hours/day and invited members of the public to sit opposite her and gaze into her in the eyes. No touching or movement or speaking was a ...more
4.5 stars

I wanted to read The Museum of Modern Love since it came out a couple of years ago. I finally got my hands on it, as I anticipate seeing Heather Rose this weekend at the Perth Writers Festival.

I'm not the biggest fan of books that bend the line of non-fiction with fiction. But I am a huge art lover and I find Marina Abramovic fascinating, intriguing and quite extraordinary.

The first time I came across Abramovic's name was by reading an article about her performance piece Rhythm
Jennifer Blankfein
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much to love in this fictional novel centered around interesting characters and the real Marina Abramovic and her Artist is Present Performance Art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010 in NYC. Just as Abramovic explores the human longing for connection in her art, Heather Rose’s characters grow and change as a result of their observation and contemplation at the performance artist’s exhibit.

The Museum of Modern Love explores...(to read more go to Book Nation by Jen https://booknationby
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
One of the characters asks...How do you define art? How do you answer that simply? To me it's something that is hard to pinpoint it's a feeling, it can bring joy, can cause confusion, it's pain, it's unadulterated happiness, it's an expression a way to connect with an audience it adds colour to dullness and makes people think, question and to look around the world with a different perspective. I love that it means something different to each individual, it's not uniform.

As the author states this
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This came out in Australia in September 2016 and just came out in the United States this month. The author starts with the event of Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present at MOMA and explores the artist herself (in a fictional way but with permission and access to materials granted by the artist.) The rest of the novel is made up of the lives of the people drawn to the art. Nothing much happens, and I loved it. Through the various character the author is able to explore what draws people to ar ...more
The Museum of Modern Love is a tender and thought-provoking book. Fusing fact and fiction, it centers around a real piece of performance art that was showcased at the MOMA in 2010 - The Artist is Present by the Serbian artist Marina Abramović. It then weaves together the narratives of several fictional characters, all of whom attend the performance and become so captivated by it that they attempt to use Marina's art as a way to process the grief in their own lives.

As someone who adores contempor
lark benobi
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: all who adored Bel Canto
The Museum of Modern Love is a novel populated with intensely-feeling people, with Marina Abramovic’s performance piece “The Artist Is Present” acting as a focal point that reveals to the characters their true and deep emotional selves. I loved it a lot, and then I didn’t. It’s because about a third of the way through I stopped buying it. The people no longer felt real to me. Throughout the novel these characters are constantly feeling and regretting; feeling and regretting; feeling and regretti ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, 2019-read
This book is an ode to the power of art, as it revolves around a cast of characters who are connected to and impacted by Marina Abramović's "The Artist is Present":

Abramović with the last sitter, curator Klaus Biesenbach; Rights: MoMA/Marco Anelli

More than 850,000 people have come to attend the 75 day performance piece in which the Serbian artist sat opposite 1,554 visitors at the MoMA, silently looking at them. (In the picture, you see Abramović with the last sitter, curator Biesenbach; Rights: MoMa/Marco Anelli.)

The novel's protagonists are Arky, a composer whose terminal
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a slow morning at work. I poured myself a coffee and sat down across from a particularly endearing client of mine.

"Tell me story," I asked him.

"Tell you a story?" He paused, and twinkled. "I will tell you a story with my eyes." And with that he leaned forward a little, and we both gazed intently into each other's eyes, smiles tugging at the creases of our mouths. It was over in twenty seconds.

It can be unnerving, looking deeply into someone's eyes like that. Searching for emotions, tryin
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+]The Museum of Modern Love is about the power of art to awaken, challenge, soothe, transform...At the center is an actual event - the performance artist, Marina Abramovic, sitting in a chair at the Museum of Modern Art for 75 days, 7 hours a day. Visitors were invited to sit on a chair opposite her. The novel is about the effect her presence had on the lives of several individuals. I found it an extraordinary experience. Reading rarely brings me to tears, but this novel did.

(Thank you Bianca
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about performance art and the famous Marina Abramovic and her very unusual projects and works. This book touches on some of her other performance arts but mainly one, “The Artist is Present.” A stunning, highly attended event that was held for 75 days, March 29 through May 31, 2010, at the MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

I admit, I had not heard of Marina before reading this book. I had not really been attuned to “performance art,” so this was both an eye opener and a le
Paul Lockman
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-favourites

This is only the second novel I have read in 2017 but I knew within a few pages of starting it that it was likely to be one my favourites for the year. I could have finished it in a day but deliberately paced myself and took nearly a week as I wanted to prolong the enjoyment. I am not an art enthusiast so the fact that the novel primarily revolves around a real life artist Marina Abramovic and her ‘exhibition’ “The Artist is Present” in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has fictional cha

Jan 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
I feel guilty for not having felt the way the majority of reviewers did about this. I thought I would enjoy it because art and history are two of my favourite things to learn about and this incorporated both, but I just couldn’t get into the story. This was somewhere between a 1 and 2, but if it wasn’t for book club, I would have ‘DNF’d’ it before it got slightly more enjoyable, so I think a 1 is more appropriate.

Despite giving it a 1, I think the idea behind the book was interesting. Marina Ab
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not even going to try and write a proper review of this, because I won't be able to do it justice. Such a unique premise - a novel following a handful of people whose lives become linked through (the real life exhibition) Marina Abramovic's "The Artist is Present" at MOMA in New York. The story explores art, love, life among many other things and is fantastic in every way. Just go and read it.
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
In 2010 a unique moving art performance titled ‘The Artist is Present’ was performed by Marina Abramovic at MoMA in New York for 75 days straight. This unique modern art experience is the driving force behind the story The Museum of Modern Love.

The Museum of Modern Love is Heather Rose’s reimagining of the highly acclaimed moving art performance, staged at the infamous MoMA in New York, performed by artist Marina Abramovic. More than just a commentary on the
Mary D
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
So bored reading this book. Very original, one star, at times some lovely, poignant writing, another star. But mostly I zoned out, took days to get back to reading it, felt like I was chewing the pages rather than reading them. Sure it rounded off nicely enough but win the Stella? Really??

Leslie Ray
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is centered around an actual performance artist, Marina Abramovic, and is based upon an actual performance exhibit that she did at the MoMA, called The Artist is Present in which the artist and people sit and gaze at each other. The author has provided a backdrop to the story with characters who become intertwined in viewing, and actually taking part in the performance. They are at various stages in their lives but their responses to the artist provide the impetus for each one to move ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful story exploring the rigors of true commitment as it relates to love, grief, art, and the human longing for connection. Based around real events, the reader glimpses the lives of some characters who have come to see Marina Abramovic’s ‘The Artist is Present’ at MoMA. A delightfully thought-provoking, meditative read.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is based on Marina Abramovic who is a performance artist. Her piece "The artist is present" involved her sitting in a chair for 75 days and people sitting across from her. She didn't move, pee, eat, scratch, nothing. People from all around the world lined up and waited for hours just to get the chance to sit across from Abramovic. Some people cried, others were deeply moved and I was incredibly confused. This whole thing reminded me of the fable about the king who walks around naked an ...more
Anna Spargo-Ryan
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot. I'm a bit amazed it was written by an Australian -- something about it calls up the deep Americanness of authors like Franzen and Safran Foer. The white-privilegedness is probably part of that. These are mostly people who can afford to spend their time rubbing shoulders with celebrities at an art installation instead of going to work or being responsible for anyone else. That doesn't make the story any less interesting (not least because Marina Abramovic herself is such an in ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Marina Abramovic before picking up The Museum of Modern Love. If you are similarly in the dark, I urge you to go to YouTube and watch the short video of Marina and her former life partner, Ulay, during a sitting at her exhibition, The Artist is Present. Gaining that perspective will add a depth to your reading that – I believe – is essential.

Some background: The Tasmanian author – Heather Rose – was deeply moved by Mariana Abramovic’s 1988 work, The Lovers, in which Martina
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auslit, stellaproject
This was a beautifully painful exploration of the interconnectedness of relationships in all their manifestations (romantic, friendship, and the intersection of those with art and the connections one has to art, namely performance art. I found the exploration of performance art, and the insights into the life of Abromovich fascinating and disturbing all at once - the pain and danger of her art, the personal toll on her physical and mental health, all made for a fascinating juxtaposition to the e ...more
Paula Bardell-Hedley
“…in truth, pain is the stone that art sharpens itself on time after time.”
Marina Abramović is a living woman whose life and work have been skilfully interwoven into the narrative of Australian author Heather Rose’s 2017 Stella prize-winning novel, The Museum of Modern Love – a book the writer describes as “a strange hybrid of fact and fiction”.

A Serbian-born performance artist, Abramović is renowned for her endurance pieces, often exploring physical limits and mental possibilities. Rose’s s
Jaclyn Crupi
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think it's easy for novels about ideas, art and artists to feel pretentious but Heather Rose manages to avoid that and she does it by delivering characters who feel so very real. Based around Abramovic's three-month long performance piece at MoMA, The Artist is Present, this book follows various people who visited or were involved in the piece. Full disclosure: I'm a huge Abramovic fan and may have stalked her in Geneva for a time (she smiled at me) so I was a little nervous going in but I nee ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Approximately 15 pages into The Museum of Modern Love, I decided that it was a contender for my favourite new release of the year. Two pages later I became concerned that if I kept on reading that it would take a turn for the worse and I’d end up hating it; I contemplated putting it down and never picking it up again because it just started out that good. Thankfully I didn’t stop reading, it didn’t take a turn for the worse, and it’s still a contender for my favourite new release of the year.

I f
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel I recently finished before this one was one of voice—and one voice at that—with working-class people populating its pages. It struck me as I read this one that it’s the opposite: multiple voices, though each section doesn’t sound much different from the other; and characters (not all) leading privileged lives.

The writing had its moments of beauty and insight; but I’m left with too many questions about the author’s choices, such as why she chose to use an otherworldly narrator who purport
Normally books about art and artists lose me. Not this time. The author centres her story around Marina Abramovic's 75 day long performance piece at MoMA. Her central character is Arky Levin, a successful composer whose wife has made him make a promise he does not want to keep.
There are a few other characters dealing with their own issues but it is all about Marina, her art and how it impacts on people.
It is a strange book with a ghost who narrates certain chapters, reflections on Yugoslavia and
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Heather Rose is the bestselling Australian author of eight novels. Heather writes for both adults and children. Her adult novels include Bruny, The Museum of Modern Love, The River Wife & The Butterfly Man.

The Museum of Modern Love won the 2017 Stella Prize, the Christina Stead Prize and the Margaret Scott Prize. It was shortlisted for the Australian Literary Society Medal and longlisted for the I

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