Tag Archives: books

Artsy Book Club: Tom and Jack by Henry Adams

27 Aug

I have always been a voracious reader, nerd that I am.  Summers were often spent with my nose in a book and summer reading contests were usually won handedly.  These days, with so much time spent reading blogs and articles online, I don’t pick up a book nearly as often as I’d like.  When I do, sometimes it’s an artist biography or other art/art history related tome, with the occasional fun & easy fiction read thrown in.  Since some of my artsy reads might be of interest to you, I thought I’d begin posting my thoughts on my latest conquests.

Best reading spot ever

My most recent artsy read has been Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock by Henry Adams.  Many of us know that Pollock was a student of Benton, but this book really delves into both their lives and careers, their complicated relationship and the influence of each on the development of modern art.

Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock by Henry Adams

While I’ve always admired Thomas Hart Benton’s work for its sweeping nature and subtly satirical voice ( though it is still widely criticized by many as too provincial ), I’ll admit my main draw to the book was Pollock.

Arts of the West ( 1932 ) by Thomas Hart Benton

Remembering back to my earliest forays into art history, I wasn’t especially intrigued by Pollock.  At the time, I was drawn to the more feminine abstractions of Georgia O’Keeffe and Helen Frankenthaler.  It wasn’t until I came face to face with a Pollock canvas during an Abstract Expressionism show at The Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville.   I was completely blown away.

Convergence by Jackson Pollock ( 1952 ), oil on canvas, 155×93.5

The texture, the seemingly randomness that once you really stare at it, is not so random, the thick build-up of paint.. I was now officially hooked.  The book details the rise of Thomas Hart Benton, paying special attention to his influences, as these would trickle down to ultimately influence Pollock.  Benton’s theory of “the hollow and the bump” becomes especially important to Pollock’s artistic growth.  Once studied side by side, it’s interesting to map how Pollock went from devoted student of Benton’s to the development of his own unique, groundbreaking style while still utilizing theories taught to him by this mentor and father figure.

I confess, this one took me several library renewals to get through..  The first half of the book, which focuses heavily on Benton and his contemporaries is a bit of a challenge, perhaps because I was more interested in Pollock.  But once you begin to see it all culminating in the explosion of Pollock’s career, the transition from the Modern movement to Abstract Expressionism and the shifting of the center of the art world from Paris to New York, the book is impossible to put down.  Yes, there’s plenty of speculation regarding Pollock’s alcoholism, mental and emotional battles, but the focus comes back to how he dealt with those demons through his work.  A fantastic read if you are at all interested in modern art, abstract expressionism, Benton or Pollock.  I just wish I’d bought it instead of checking it out of the library!

Anyone else out there read this book?  What were your thoughts?

PS– If you have any recommendations for artsy reads, please share!  Right now, I’m really enjoying Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty.  Thoughts on that one to come soon!  You can see more of my reading list on my Artsy Book Club Pinterest board. 😉

By the Book: Stanford Kay

26 Jun

I don’t always read Artist Statements but sometimes one just describes the artist’s work and vision so perfectly that I don’t feel like there is any way my words can improve upon it.  Such is the case of New York artist Stanford Kay.  His artist statement was so completely lovely, I’d like to let him speak for his own work.

What I Know About Her, acrylic on canvas, 50×60

“At first, there is paint and desire. Paint is applied, removed, and applied again.  It makes suggestions. It is edited without mercy. The image and the need to signify arrive later. Books as images within these paintings offer formal modernist possibilities while also serving as an embodiment of content.”

Bacillus, acrylic on canvas, 36×40

Secret Passage, acrylic on canvas, 36×40

“Both paintings and books are vessels for ideas, experience and memory.  The books we read and the paintings we love and choose to live with, 
define us.  A book requires the reader to assemble images and ideas out of its signs and symbols. Likewise, a painting asks that you translate its strokes and drips into reason and emotion.” — Stanford Kay

Legends of the West, acrylic on canvas, 36×48

To see more of Stanford Kay’s work, please visit his website.  Doesn’t his work make you want to cozy up in a library and read all day?

Featured image is What I Know About Her ( detail ).  All images are via the artist’s website.

Sneaky Peek at Moon Rabbits

21 Jun

Thanks again to everyone who entered to win a copy of Geoff Mitchell’s book, Moon Rabbits.  Geoff thought you guys would enjoy a sneak peek at the story inspired by the contest winner’s favorite piece, Trinket.  Click on the link below to see a full-sized version of the book spread.  Enjoy!

Trinket with story by Amy Hicks

PS– If you’d like to order your very own copy of Moon Rabbits, contact Geoff via his website here.

PPS– Once you click the link above, you may need to zoom in a bit, depending on how good your eyesight is. 😉

Win Artsy Stuff! Geoff Mitchell Book Giveaway

11 Jun

*This giveaway ended at 5pm PST on Friday, June 15, 2012.  Thanks to all who entered!

I like free stuff and I bet you do, too!  Especially when it’s artsy stuff and what other kind would we be giving away on Artsy Forager?  This month’s Facebook Featured Artist, Geoff Mitchell, has recently published Moon Rabbits: Pictures and Tales a book project which pairs twenty of Mitchell’s works with short stories inspired by his imagery.

Win this book!

Geoff has been generous enough to offer Artsy Forager readers a chance to win a copy of Moon Rabbits!  To enter, simply comment on this post with your favorite Geoff Mitchell work ( find more of his work on his website here ) and you can get an extra entry by writing your own narrative in your comment below about the story you see unfolding in Geoff’s work.

Good luck!  The contest will end this Friday, June 15, 2012 at 5pm PST.  A winner will be drawn at random and announced on Monday, June 18th!

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