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David Zwirner Books

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Tell Me Something Good


"The Rail is the best publication of its kind in New York?and it keeps getting better." –Paul Auster Since 2000, The Brooklyn Rail has been a platform for artists, academics, critics, poets and writers in New York and abroad. The monthly journal’s continued appeal is due in large part to its diverse contributors, many of whom bring contrasting and often unexpected opinions to conversations about art and aesthetics. No other publication devotes as much space to the artist’s voice, allowing ideas to unfold and idiosyncrasies to emerge through open discussion. Since its inception, cofounder and artistic director Phong Bui and the Rail’s contributors have interviewed over 400 artists for The Brooklyn Rail. This volume brings together for the first time a selection of sixty of the most influential and seminal interviews with artists ranging from Richard Serra and Brice Marden, to Alex Da Corte and House of Ladosha. While each interview is important in its own right, offering a perspective on the life and work of a specific artist, collectively they tell the story of a journal that has grown during one of the more diverse and surprising periods in visual art. Selected and coedited by Jarrett Earnest, a frequent Rail contributor, with Lucas Zwirner, the book includes an introduction to the project by Phong Bui as well as many of the hand-drawn portraits he has made of those he has interviewed over the years. This combination of verbal and visual profiles offers a rare and personal insight into contemporary visual culture.
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34,15 € 35,95 €

Degas and His Model


There are many myths about Edgar Degas--from Degas the misanthrope to Degas the deviant to Degas the obsessive. But there is no single text that better stokes the fire than Degas and His Model, a short memoir by Alice Michel, who purportedly modeled for Degas. Never before translated into English, the text's original publication in Mercure de France in 1919, shortly after the artist's death, has been treated as an important account of the master sculptor at work. We know that Alice was writing under a pseudonym, but who the real person behind this account was remains a mystery. Yet the descriptions seem too accurate, the anecdotes too spot-on to discount; even the dialogue captures the artist's tone and mannerisms. What is found in these pages is at times a woman's flirtatious recollection of a bizarre "artistic type" and at others a moving attempt to connect with a great, often tragic man. The descriptions are limpid; the dialogue is lively and intimate, not unlike reading the very best kind of gossip, with world-historical significance.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Giotto and His Works in Padua


In 1303, Giotto, then considered the preeminent painter in Italy, was commissioned to paint the Arena Chapel in Padua. The resulting Chapel and its panels, detailing the history, birth, life and death of Christ, rank among the greatest artworks ever created. John Ruskin (1819-1900) redefined art criticism in the 19th century through his attention to detail, his playful and engaging prose and the conviction with which he discussed the subjects that mattered most to him. Here Ruskin examines Giotto's panels and brings them to life, describing their many hidden details, all the result of Giotto's unrivaled genius. The Arundel Society first published "Giotto and His Works in Padua" between 1853 and 1860. Long out of print, it stands as Ruskin's most compelling set of reflections on Giotto's masterpiece--an artwork that, in Ruskin's estimation, changed the very course of art history. Originally accompanied by a set of black-and-white woodcuts of the panels in the Chapel, this new edition presents each panel in vivid color photography, adding a useful visual aid to Ruskin's lyrical descriptions. The result is a book that serves not only as an introduction for students of art history, but also as a discussion of what it means to be a great artist, by one of the most influential writers ever to tackle visual art.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Pissing Figures 1280 - 2014


Lebensztejn is one of France’s best - kept secrets. A world - class art historian who has lectured and taught at major universities in the United States, his work has remained almost entirely in French, his American audience limited to a sma ll but dedicated group of cognoscenti. First introducing the Manneken Pis ? the iconic little boy whose stream of urine supplies water to this famous fountain and is also the logo for a Belgian beer company ? the author takes the reader through a semi - scatological maze of cultural history. The earliest example is a fresco scene loc ated directly above Cimabue’s Crucifixion from around 1280 at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, in which Lebensztejn’s careful eye locates an angel behind a pillar urinating through a hole in his garment. He continues to navigate expertly through cu ltural twists and turns, stopping to discuss Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1968 film Teorema , for example, and Marlene Dumas’s 1996 – 1997 homage to Rembrandt’s pissing woman. At every moment, Lebensztejn’s prose is lively, his thinking dynamic, and his subject matt er entertaining. In this short and poignant cultural history, readers will not only find the care for detail that has made Lebensztejn into one of the greatest European art historians, but also the rebelliousness that makes him one of the most interesting intellectuals of our time.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Ramblings of a Wannabe Painter


"Criticism is our censorship...." So begins one of the greatest invectives against criticism ever written by an artist. Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) wrote "Racontars de Rapin" only months before he died in 1903, but the essay remained unpublished until 1951. Through discussions of numerous artists, both his contemporaries and predecessors, Gauguin unpacks what he viewed as the mistakes and misjudgments behind much of art criticism, revealing not only how wrong critics' interpretations have been, but also what it would mean to approach art properly--to really look. This new translation by French writer and academic Donatien Grau includes an introduction that situates the essay within Gauguin's written oeuvre, as well as a selection of works to illustrate the text itself. Through Gauguin's final piece of writing we see the artist in the full throes of passion--for his work, for his art, for the art of others and against anyone who would stand in his way. As the inaugural publication in David Zwirner Books' new Ekphrasis reader series, Ramblings of a Wannabe Painter sets a perfect tone for the books to come. Poised between writing, art and criticism, Gauguin brings together many different worlds, all of which should be considered for any meaningful discussion of art. With the express hope of encouraging open exchange between the world of writing and that of the visual arts, David Zwirner Books is proud to be presenting this new edition of a lost masterpiece.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Summoning Pearl Harbor


Summoning Pearl Harbor is a mesmerizing display of linguistic force that redefines remembering. How do words make the past appear? In what way does the historian summon bygone events? What is this kind of remembering, and for whom do we recall the dead, or the past? In this highly original meditation on the past, renowned art historian Alexander Nemerov delves into what it means to recall a significant event? Pearl Harbor?and how descriptions of images can summon it back to life. Beginning with the photo album of a former Japanese kamikaze pilot, which is reproduced in this volume, Nemerov transports the reader into a different world through his engagement with the photographs and the construction of a narrative around them. Through its lyrical prose, Summoning Pearl Harbor expands what we traditionally associate with ekphrastic writing. The kind of writing that can enliven a work of art is also the kind of writing that makes the past appear in vivid color and deep feeling. In the end, this timely piece of writing opens onto fundamental questions about how we communicate with each other, and how the past continues to live in our collective consciousness, not merely as facts but as stories that shape us. Here, Nemerov’s constant awareness of the power of language to make an experience?seen or remembered? become real reminds us that great ekphrastic writing is at the heart of every effective description.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Venus & Adonis (English/Dutch)


At once comic, tragic, and erotic, Venus & Adonis (1593) is a poem by William Shakespeare based on passages from Ovid's Metamorphoses. This new translation by Hafid Bouazza of Shakespeare's text is illustrated by Marlene Dumas, the renowned painter celebrated around the world for her highly charged depictions of the human form. Through a series of expressive ink washes, Dumas paints new passion into the poem-bodies bleed into one another, lips part in sighs of passion, a flower blooms to life. Desire in all its heady intensity is evocatively washed over the pages. As with Dumas's wider body of work, however, tragedy is not forgotten and is frighteningly played out with equal intensity. The owl, "night's herald," as Shakespeare writes, flies jet black across the sky; a wild boar looms like a shadow over Adonis's suffering, wounded body; black dissolves into gray; and bodies are lost in a sea of ink. The poem tells the story of Venus, the goddess of love, and her attempts to seduce the hunter Adonis. It is a complex, kaleidoscopic work in which love takes center stage-Venus's lustful yearning for Adonis ripples throughout, each stanza and line tinged with unrequited longing. As Venus declares, "Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry, / Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie." Like Shakespeare before her, Dumas opens up a seemingly unending flow between light and dark, love and death, pleasure and pain. Dumas's complete suite of thirty-two works on paper is reproduced in this volume, exactingly placed by the artist throughout Shakespeare's text. Copublished by Athenaeum and David Zwirner Books as an English/ Dutch edition, the book is a striking yet beautiful paradox-a marriage of text and image that is as sensual, fleshy, and carnal as it is unnerving and disturbing.
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29,93 € 31,50 €

The Critic as Artist


In The Critic as Artist--arguably the most complete exploration of his aesthetic thinking, and certainly the most entertaining--Oscar Wilde harnesses his famous wit to demolish the supposed boundary between art and criticism. Subtitled Upon the Importance of Doing Nothing and Discussing Everything, the essay takes the form of a leisurely dialogue between two characters: Ernest, who insists upon Wilde's own belief in art's freedom from societal mandates and values, and a quizzical Gilbert. With his playwright's ear for dialogue, Wilde champions idleness and contemplation as prerequisites to artistic cultivation. Beyond the well-known dictum of art for art's sake, Wilde's originality lays an argument for the equality of criticism and art. For him, criticism is not subject to the work of art, but can in fact precede it: the artist cannot create without engaging his or her critical faculties first. And, as Wilde writes, "To the critic the work of art is simply a suggestion for a new work of his own." The field of art and criticism should be open to the free play of the mind, but Wilde plays seriously, even prophetically. Writing in 1891, he foresaw that criticism would have an increasingly important role as the need to make sense of what we see increases with the complexities of modern life. It is only the fine perception and explication of beauty, Wilde suggests, that will allow us to create meaning, joy, empathy and peace out of the chaos of facts and reality. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish poet and playwright who became one of London's most popular writers in the early 1890s. Though often controversial, his flair for journalism and nose for scandal ensured that he was widely read. His bold essays on aesthetic philosophy, collected in the volume Intentions (1891), remain important and influential meditations of the nature of art criticism itself.
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11,35 € 11,95 €

Endless Enigma


Lineages of the eerie, the strange and the fantastical: from Blake, Goya and Redon to Borremans, Yuskavage and Marshall Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art explores the ways in which artists have sought to explain their world in terms of an alternate reality, drawn from imagination, the subconscious, poetry, nature, myth and religion. Endless Enigma takes as its point of departure Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s legendary 1936 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, which not only introduced these movements to the American public, but also placed them in a historical and cultural context by situating them among artists from earlier centuries. Presenting works from the 12th century to the present day, the book is organized into six themes?Monsters & Demons, Dreams & Temptation, Fragmented Body, Unconscious Gesture, Super Nature and Sense of Place. Works included range from medieval gargoyles to 20th-century works by Louise Bourgeois, Sigmar Polke and Pablo Picasso as well as contemporary works by Michaël Borremans and Marcel Dzama. Masterworks from the likes of Piero di Cosimo, Francisco de Goya and Titian are considered alongside those by William Blake and Odilon Redon. Time folds and temporal barriers collapse when Damiano Cappelli meets Edvard Munch, and Salvator Rosa encounters Lisa Yuskavage. Salvador Dalí, Sherrie Levine, Kerry James Marshall?eight centuries intersect and, as such, this wide-ranging catalog examines affinities in intention and imagery between works executed across a broad span of time.
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71,20 € 74,95 €

Two Cities


From acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin comes a deeply personal meditation on two cities, Venice and Rome-each a work of art, both a monument to the past-and on how love and loss shape places and spaces. Here we encounter a writer deeply engaged with narrative in situ-a traveler moving through beloved streets, sometimes accompanied, sometimes solo. With her, we see, anew, the Venice Biennale, the Lagoon, and San Michele, the island of the dead; the Piazza di Spagna, the Tiber, the view from the Gianicolo; the pigeons at San Marco and the parrots in the Doria Pamphili. As a poet first and foremost, Zarin's attention to the smallest details, the loveliest gesture, brings Venice and Rome vividly to life for the reader. The sixteenth book in the expanding, renowned ekphrasis series, Two Cities creates space for these two historic cities to become characters themselves, their relationship to the writer as real as any love affair.
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11,88 € 12,50 €

Chardin and Rembrandt - Marcel Proust


Long overlooked in Proust’s posthumously published writings, Chardin and Rembrandt , written when he was only twenty - four years old, not only reemphasizes the importance of visual art to his development, but contains the seeds of his later work. Proposed in 1895 by Proust to the newspaper Revue hebdomadaire (it was rejected), this essay i s much more than a straightforward piece of art criticism. It is a literary experiment in which an unnamed narrator gives advice to a young man suffering from melancholy, taking him on an imaginary tour through the Louvre where his readings of Chardin imbu e the everyday world with new meaning, and his ruminations on Rembrandt take his melancholic pupil beyond the realm of mere objects. Published for the first time as a stand - alone volume and newly translated, this edition, part of the David Zwirner Books ekphrasis series, aims to introduce a wider audience to one of Proust’s most important and influential works in Western literature . “For the true artist,” as Proust writes, “as for the natural scientist, every type is interesting, and even the smallest mus cle has its importance.” The same could be said of the author’s own work ? every essay has its own crucial place in the formation of his groundbreaking oeuvre. The afterword by renowned Proust scholar Alain Madeleine - Perdrillat , originally published in the French by Le Bruit du Temps, is an impassioned argument in favor of returning to the lost paths of Proust’s early thinking. It sees, in the passage from Chardin’s world of objects to Rembrandt’s contemplative paintings, a move ment toward the radical interiority for which Proust would later become widely celebrated as a novelist. Written at the beginning of his literary career, Chardin and Rembrandt gestures back to some of Proust’s earliest notes on art, while creating space fo r what was to come.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

Letters to a young painter


Never before translated into English, Rainer Maria Rilke’s fascinating Letters to a Very Young Painter , written toward the end of his life between 1920 and 1926, is a surprising companion to his infamous Letters to a Young Poet , earlier correspondence from 1902 to 1908. While the latter has become a global phenomenon, with millions of copies sold in many different languages, the present volume has been largely overlooked. In these eight intimate letters written to a teenage Balthus?who would go on to become one of the leading artists of his generation?Rilke describes the challenges he faced, while opening the door for the young painter to take himself and his work seriously. Rilke’s constant warmth, his ability to sense in advance his correspondent’s difficulties and propose solutions to them, and his sensitivity as a person and an artist come across in these charming and honest letters. Writing during his aged years, this volume paints a picture of the venerable poet as he faced his mortality, through the perspective of hindsight, and continued to embrace his openness towards other creative individuals. With a new introduction by Rachel Corbett, author of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin , this book is a must-have for Rilke’s admirers, young and old, and all aspiring artists.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

The Psychology of an Art Writer


Vernon Lee--a pseudonym of Violet Paget (1856-1935)--is the most important female aesthetician to come out of 19th-century England. Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee never gained the recognition she so clearly deserved for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy and art criticism. An early follower of Walter Pater, she wrote with an extreme attention to her own responses to artworks, and a level of psychological sensitivity rarely seen in any aesthetic writing. Today, she is largely understudied and rarely read, her aesthetic writings long out of print. Now, David Zwirner Books reintroduces her writing through the first-ever English publication of The Psychology of an Art Writer (1903) along with selections from her groundbreaking Gallery Diaries (1901-4), breathtaking accounts of Lee's own experiences with the great paintings and sculptures she traveled to see. Ranging from assessments of the way mood affects our ability to appreciate art to descriptions of powerful personal experiences with artworks, these writings provide profound insights into the fields of psychology and aesthetics.
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10,93 € 11,50 €

A Balthus Notebook


In his 1989 book on Balthus-the storied and controversial artist who worked in Paris throughout the twentieth century-Guy Davenport gives one of the most nuanced, literary, and compelling readings of the work of this master. Reading it today highlights the change in perspectives on sexuality and nudity in art in the past thirty years. Written over several years in his notebooks, Davenport's distinct reflections on Balthus's paintings try to explain why his work is so radical, and why it has so often come under scrutiny for its depiction of girls and women. Davenport throws the lens back on the viewer and asks: is it us or Balthus who reads sexuality into these paintings? For Davenport, the answer is clear: Balthus may indeed show us periods in adolescent development that are uncomfortable to view, but the eroticization exists primarily on the part of the viewer. Arguing that Balthus's figures are erotic only if we make them so, and that their innocence is more present than anything pornographic in them, Davenport posits that the paintings hold up a mirror to our own perversities and force us, difficultly, to confront them. He writes, "The nearer an artist works to the erotic politics of his own culture, the more he gets its concerned attention. Gauguin's naked Polynesian girls, brown and remote, escape the scandal of Balthus's, although a Martian observer would not see the distinction." Davenport's critique helps us understand Balthus in our times-something we need more than ever as we crucially confront sexual politics in visual art.
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11,88 € 12,50 €

Yayoi Kusama: Every Day I Pray for Love


In her most personal book to date, Yayoi Kusama brings us into her private world through poetic recollections, giving insight into her creative process and the essential role language plays in her work and daily life. With a new focus on Kusama's use of language, this book gives an impressive overview of her poetry, which the artist creates alongside her work in other media. Highlighting the importance of language to Kusama, the book draws special attention to the captivating poetic titles of her paintings, such as in I WOULD LIKE TO SHOW YOU THE INFINITE SPLENDOR OF STARDUST IN THE UNIVERSE and FIGURE OF THE MIDNIGHT DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE THAT I DEDICATED ALL MY HEART. These visionary titles are a quintessential part of Kusama's eye-catching artworks, but also hold their own as unique aphorisms and appealing statements of cosmic spirituality. The poetry collected here touches on Kusama's personal triumphs and trials, her human ideals, and her heroic pursuit of art and peace above all else. Centered around EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE, Kusama's acclaimed exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, in 2019, this book features more than 300 pages of new paintings, sculptures, and Infinity Mirrored Rooms. It also includes photographs of Kusama over time, offering a unique visual timeline of this iconic artist.
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36,05 € 37,95 €

Paul Klee: 1939


The year before he died, in what was one of the most difficult yet prolific periods of his life, Paul Klee created his most surprising and innovative works.

In 1939, the year before his death from a long illness and against a backdrop of sociopolitical turmoil and the outbreak of World War II, Klee worked with a vigor and inventiveness that rivaled even the most productive periods of his youth. This book illuminates the artist's response to his personal difficulties and the era's broader realities through imagery that is tirelessly inventive-by turns political, solemn, playful, humorous, and poetic.

The works featured testify to Klee's restless drive to experiment with form and material. His use of adhesive, grease, oil, chalk, and watercolor, among other media, resulted in surfaces that are not only visually striking, but also highly tactile and original. Not unlike a diary, the drawings are often meditative reflections on the pains and pleasures of life-their titles, among them Monsters in readiness and Struggles with himself, signal Klee's frame of mind.

Renowned art historian Dawn Ades looks at this group of drawings in the context of their time and as indicative of a pivotal moment in art history. Moved by this late period of Klee's oeuvre, American artist Richard Tuttle responds to specific works in the form of a dialogical poem. This stunning publication highlights the novelty and ingenuity of Klee's late works, which deeply affected the generation of artists-including Anni Albers, Jean Dubuffet, Mark Tobey, and Zao Wou-Ki-that emerged after World War II and continues to captivate artists and viewers alike today.
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55,05 € 57,95 €