#BookBingoNW2017: Art and Artists

What is art, anyway? Merriam-Webster defines it as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” With such a broad definition, there are many different directions readers can go with this particular Book Bingo square. Here are a few strategies for filling this square:


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A few authors, such as Tracy Chevalier, Susan Vreeland and Irving Stone, have made a name for themselves writing historical fiction about art & artists. Titles like Girl With a Pearl Earring, Girl in Hyacinth Blue and The Agony and the Ecstasy are some of the more famous titles in this genre. However there are hundreds of great fiction titles about art and artists – some well-reviewed recent titles include A Piece of the World, The Goldfinch, The Blazing World and The Blue Guitar. Find more fiction about art and artists in the Library’s collection by using the subject headings “Art—Fiction” and “Artists–Fiction


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If you’d rather read a (mostly) true story, there’s plenty to choose from, starting with Giorgio Vasari’s classic Lives of the Artists. For more contemporary takes, try any of the following: Hold Still, the acclaimed memoir by controversial photographer Sally Mann, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, a lacerating hybrid of essay and autobiography by an important figure in 1990s contemporary art & AIDS activism, or Art Sex Music by Throbbing Gristle co-founder and performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti. More of a diary reader? Try The Andy Warhol Diaries, The Diary of Frida Kahlo, or The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness, which includes the visual diary kept by this Seattle-based Japanese-American artist while incarcerated at a WWII internment camp.

Graphic novels

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Graphic novels are an art form in themselves, as Scott McCloud makes clear in his entertaining and informative Understanding Comics. But there are also some great comics about art and artists, including local cartoonist Ellen Forney’s highly personal exploration of the relationship between mental illness and the artistic impulse, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, Asterios Polyp (about an award-winning architect who’s never actually built a physical building) and What It Is, cartoonist Lynda Barry’s imaginative and inspirational journey through her creative process.


Local exhibits

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Whether or not you were lucky enough to get advance tickets to Infinity Mirrors, this summer is a great time to read Yayoi Kusama’s autobiography, Infinity Net. If you’re heading to the Henry to check out the Jacob Lawrence exhibit, read up on his work first with this collection of essays, Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence, There’s still a few weeks left to see Marimekko, With Love at the Nordic Heritage Museum, but if you miss it, you can always check out Marimekko: In Patterns.

For a full list of these titles and more, check out this list. None of these books pique your interest? Ask one of our librarians to create a list of 5 books personalized just for you!

~posted by Abby B.

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