To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
Publication date 5/1/2010
7 x 10 inches (17.8 x 25.4 cm), Paperback
208 pages, 115 color illustrations, 25 b/w illustrations
Carton qty: 18;
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From the weekly shopping list to the Ten Commandments, our lives are shaped by lists. Whether dashed off as a quick reminder, or carefully constructed as an inventory, this humble form of documentation provides insight into its maker's personal habits and decision-making processes. This is especially true for artists, whose day-to-day acts of living and art-making overlap and inform each other. Artists' lists shed uncover a host of unbeknownst motivations, attitudes, and opinions about their work and the work of others. Lists presents almost seventy artifacts, including "to do" lists, membership lists, lists of paintings sold, lists of books to read, lists of appointments made and met, lists of supplies to get, lists of places to see, and lists of people who are "in."
At times introspective, humorous, and resolute, but always revealing and engaging, Lists is a unique firsthand account of American cultural history that augments the personal biographies of some of the most celebrated and revered artists of the last two centuries. Many of the lists are historically important, throwing a flood of light on a moment, movement, or event; others are private, providing an intimate view of an artist's personal life: Pablo Picasso itemized his recommendations for the Armory Show in 1912; architect Eero Saarinen enumerated the good qualities of the then New York Times art editor and critic Aline Bernstein, his second wife; sculptor Alexander Calder's address book reveals the who's who of the Parisian avant-garde in the early twentieth century. In the hands of their creators, these artifacts become works of art in and of themselves. Lists includes rarely seen specimens by Vito Acconci, Leo Castelli, Joseph Cornell, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Reginald Marsh, H.L. Mencken, Pablo Picasso, Ad Reinhardt, Eero Saarinen, Robert Smithson, and N.C. Wyeth.
Liza Kirwin is the curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. She is the author of several books, including More Than Words (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005).
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Books By Its Cover:
"... looking at this new book from Princeton Architectural Press, I am realizing I am missing the beauty of the handmade list."
— Liza Kirwin
A Public Space Magazine:
"With his list, Grant Wood attempted to put the [Great] Depression in context as just another short-lived downturn to endure."
"A unique collection of ephemera of some of the most celebrated and revered artists of the last two centuries."
"From a February 13, 1967, postcard sent by artist Robert Morris to collector Samuel Wagstaff, describing earthworks, artworks created in nature with dirt, stones, and other found materials. The postcard is included in Lists, a collection of artists lists and visual inventories in the Smithsonians Archives of American Art, edited by Liza Kirwin, out this month from Princeton Architectural Press."
Its Nice That:
"Produced with Princetons usual aplomb."
"Now, here's a gift idea for the ephemera lover on your list that has everything!"
— Marty Weil
Lists: To-Dos: Little pieces of insight on artists, The Washington Post:
"Lists is by turns funny, telling and mundane. There are plenty of price lists, invoices and other pieces of financial arcana that demystify art-making. At times, the creative process doesn't seem any different or more magical than, say, plumbing.But what's most remarkable about the show is its ability to stir emotion, through something as prosaic as a list. "
— Michael OSullivan
The Morning News:
"Turns the trivial into treasure. "
— Rosecrans Baldwin
"Quite romantic... many of the lists are works of art in themselves."
World of Interiors:
"A goldmine of arty marginalia, from Picassos scrawled suggestions for the 1913 Armory Show to architect Eero Saarinens enumeration of his future wifes virtues (12 pour from his pen). "
"If you're a list-maker yourself, I suggest adding this book to your must-read list."
— Marion Boddy-Evans
The Bloomsbury Review:
"Lisa Kirwins lively sampling of lists from the halls of the Smithsonian Institution, some of them minor works of art themselves, makes for grandly entertaining reading and inspiration."
"A fascinating variety of archived scraps... These are lists as cultural history."
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