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The Museum of Modern Love

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,284 ratings  ·  446 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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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 lit
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
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
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
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 0 (1
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
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
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

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
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
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.
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.
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
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??

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
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
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Some thoughts about The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose –

01. This is easily one of the most original stories I’ve read. Ever.

02. At first I thought some of the writing was a little twee. Then I changed my mind – it’s lovely.

“When he was sixteen, his mother died. What do women who have drunk chamomile tea each night before bed, believed in invisible forces and played Chopin études before breakfast die of? A falling tree in a storm.”

03. This is art-lit but at a whole new level. It’s about pe
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
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reviews
What is art, and what is its purpose? These are the questions posed in The Museum of Modern Love, a fascinating book that blends fact with fiction, by Heather Rose.

In this highly original novel, Rose takes a real life event and peoples it with interesting fictional characters who interact with a particular work of art, are changed by it and come away from it having learned something of themselves and of others.

To read my review in full, please visit my blog.
I'm already reading it again.

Full review online at
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Feel like I must be reading a different book than everyone else, boring and just wasn't keeping me entertained . Wish I could've seen what everyone else found so fascinating with this book, but sorry I can't.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you Algonquin Publishing -- and have just finished a second reading to get my thoughts in order. I actually enjoyed it more the second time, the sure sign of a good book, and would give it a strong 4 at this point. Another sign of a good book: it helps you move toward a greater understanding.

In 2010 artist Marina Abramovic brought her The Artist is Present performance to MOMA in New York for 75 days. By the end, 850,000 had come to participate or ob
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I first opened the pages of this book at bedtime, I saw that I had to make a decision. The author explains that the novel is a hybrid of fact and fiction and some of the characters are, by permission, based on real living people. One of these, and central to the story, is performance artist Marina Abramović, but although her name was vaguely familiar I could not remember why. To be honest, although I look at and often enjoy contemporary art, I would be hard pressed to name any living contem ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well that was a much richer reading experience than I was expecting. The biggest surprise was that the premise actually worked, apart from the unnecessary but mercifully brief pontifications from the Muse. Heather Rose gave me a fresh appreciation of Marina Abramovic, an artist I have mixed feelings about, but even more so she sucked me in with the constellation of characters that swirled around her, drawn to an exhibition that is here reclaimed as a bona fide work of art, rather than the populi ...more
Julie Holmes
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
LOVED THIS. So many beautiful and pertinent comments on what it is to be an artist. I felt part of something bigger, that i'm not alone in this hard and challenging life.
Karen Mace
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books
What a special book! I chose this randomly from the BorrowBox library audio app and have been utterly absorbed over the past few days as I couldn't get enough and just had to keep listening! Special mention for the narrator whose voice just fitted perfectly with this tale of art, love and life.

I have to admit to knowing nothing at all of Marina Abramovic, a performance artist who once sat in the Museum of Modern Art for 75 days straight - 8 - 10 hours a day - and invited members of the general p
Natasha Lester
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. A must read.
Sharon Jarvis

Having just finished reading The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose I am sitting here pondering about what I think and probably more importantly how I feel about this novel. It has an unusual setting of a live art exhibition in New York where the performer Marina Abramovic sits for seventy-five days during the and people come and sit opposite her. Although Marina is the centre piece there is also Archy Swann who is a music composer for films and his wife Lydia becomes seriously ill.
The novel
Sep 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Life's too short to read books you don't enjoy, but bookclub ladies can be scary if you do not finish what you start!

And so under the premise of our bookclub mantra that we shall stretch our horizons and read books we would not normally, I stuck it out.

To be honest back at university in my pretentious "I'm a well read and educated university student" days I probably would have loved it but these days reading is pure escapism for me.

If you enjoy performance art (as opposed to the performing arts)
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Play Book Tag: The Museum of Modern Love - Heather Rose - four stars 3 20 Jun 12, 2017 06:51PM  
Heather Rose is the author of five novels with a further two due for publication in 2016. Heather writes for both adults and children. Her adult novels include The River Wife & The Butterfly Man.

Heather writes the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children under the pen name Angelica Banks with award-winning author Danielle Wood.

Heather’s first novel White Heart was published in 1999.
“Art will wake you up. Art will break your heart. There will be glorious days. If you want eternity, you must be fearless.” 4 likes
“The woman in red was surrounded by the crowd and she was alone. It was utterly public but intensely private.” 1 likes
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