Category Archives: biography
German printmaker Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) is known for her unapologetic social and political imagery; her representations of grief, suffering, and struggle; and her equivocal ideas about artistic and political labels. This volume explores Kollwitz’s obsessive printmaking experiments with the evolution of her images, and assesses the unusually rich progressions of preparatory drawings, proofs, and rejected images behind Kollwitz’s compositions of struggling workers, rebellious peasants, and grieving
In this important book Christina Weyl takes us into the experimental New York print studio Atelier 17 and highlights the women whose work there advanced both modernism and feminism in the 1940s and 1950s. Weyl focuses on eight artists — Louise Bourgeois, Minna Citron, Worden Day, Dorothy Dehner, Sue Fuller, Alice Trumbull Mason, Louise Nevelson, and Anne Ryan—who bent the technical rules of printmaking and blazed new aesthetic terrain with their etchings, engravings, and woodcuts. She reveals how Atelier 17 operated as an uncommonly egalitarian laboratory for revolutionizing print technique, style, and scale. It facilitated women artists’ engagement with modernist styles, providing a forum for extraordinary achievements that shaped postwar sculpture, fiber art, neo-Dadaism, and the Pattern and Decoration movement. Atelier 17 fostered solidarity among women pursuing modernist forms of expression, providing inspiration for feminist collective action in the 1960s and 1970s. The Women of Atelier 17 also identifies for the first time nearly 100 women, many previously unknown, who worked at the studio, and provides incisive illustrated biographies of selected artists.
Alice Coltrane was a composer, improviser, guru, and widow of John Coltrane. Over the course of her musical life, she synthesized a wide range of musical genres including gospel, rhythm-and-blues, bebop, free jazz, Indian devotional song, and Western art music. Her childhood experiences playing for African-American congregations in Detroit, the ecstatic and avant-garde improvisations she performed on the bandstand with her husband John Coltrane, and her religious pilgrimages to India reveal themselves on more than twenty albums of original music for the Impulse and Warner Brothers labels.
In the late 1970s Alice Coltrane became a swami, directing an alternative spiritual community in Southern California. Exploring her transformation from Alice McLeod, Detroit church pianist and bebopper, to guru Swami Turiya Sangitananda, Monument Eternal illuminates her music and, in turn, reveals the exceptional fluidity of American religious practices in the second half of the twentieth century. Most of all, this book celebrates the hybrid music of an exceptional, boundary-crossing African-American artist.
By Deborah Wye (2017)
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this catalog presents more than 270 prints and books, organized thematically, and includes an essay that traces Bourgeois’ involvement with these mediums within the broader developments of her life and career. It also emphasizes the collaborative relationships that were so fundamental to these endeavors. Included are interviews with Bourgeois’ longtime assistant, a printer she worked with side-by-side at her home/studio on 20th Street in New York and the publisher who, in the last decade of her life, encouraged her to experiment with innovative prints that broke the traditional boundaries of the medium. The volume is rounded out with a chronology and bibliography that focus on prints and illustrated books while also providing general background on Bourgeois’ life and art.
Link to MoMA online archive: Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books
Edited by Mark Sloan (2016)
Lonnie Holley (born 1950), acclaimed by The New York Times as “the Insider’s Outsider,” is best known for his assemblage sculptures incorporating natural and man-made materials, often cast off or discarded; he has recently also begun to make music, through the Dust-to-Digital label. Legendary for his environmental assemblage that spread over two acres of his property in Birmingham, Alabama―now destroyed―Holley scavenges and repurposes found objects in the service of a personal philosophy of renewal and rejuvenation. This is the first monograph on Holley’s work in more than a decade. Illustrated with reproductions of more than 70 of Holley’s sculptures, it provides a comprehensive overview of Holley’s art, life and philosophy, with essays by Mark Sloan, Leslie Umberger, Bernard L. Herman and an “as-told-to” autobiography recorded by noted oral historian Theodore Rosengarten.
By John F. Szwed (1998)
Sun Ra, a.k.a. Herman Poole “Sonny” Blount (1914–1993), has been hailed as “one of the great big-band leaders, pianists, and surrealists of jazz” (New York Times) and as “the missing link between Duke Ellington and Public Enemy” (Rolling Stone). Composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, poet, and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, Sun Ra led his “Intergalactic Arkestra” of thirty-plus musicians in a career that ranged from boogie-woogie and swing to be-bop, free jazz, fusion, and New Age music. This definitive biography reveals the life, philosophy, and musical growth of one of the twentieth century’s greatest avant-garde musicians.
By Jed Rasula (2015)
In Destruction Was My Beatrice, modernist scholar Jed Rasula presents the first narrative history of Dada, showing how this little-understood artistic phenomenon laid the foundation for culture as we know it today. Although the venue where Dada was born closed after only four months and its acolytes scattered, the idea of Dada quickly spread to New York, where it influenced artists like Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray; to Berlin, where it inspired painters George Grosz and Hannah Höch; and to Paris, where it dethroned previous avant-garde movements like Fauvism and Cubism while inspiring early Surrealists like André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Paul Éluard. The long tail of Dadaism, Rasula shows, can be traced even further, to artists as diverse as William S. Burroughs, Robert Rauschenberg, Marshall McLuhan, the Beatles, Monty Python, David Byrne, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of whom—along with untold others—owe a debt to the bizarre wartime escapades of the Dada vanguard.A globe-spanning narrative that resurrects some of the 20th century’s most influential artistic figures, Destruction Was My Beatrice describes how Dada burst upon the world in the midst of total war—and how the effects of this explosion are still reverberating today.
By Terry Teachout (2013)
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was the greatest jazz composer of the twentieth century—and an impenetrably enigmatic personality whom no one, not even his closest friends, claimed to understand. The grandson of a slave, he dropped out of high school to become one of the world’s most famous musicians, a showman of incomparable suavity who was as comfortable in Carnegie Hall as in the nightclubs where he honed his style. He wrote some fifteen hundred compositions, many of which, like “Mood Indigo” and “Sophisticated Lady,” remain beloved standards, and he sought inspiration in an endless string of transient lovers, concealing his inner self behind a smiling mask of flowery language and ironic charm.
By Robin Kelley (2010)
Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist’s struggle to “make it” without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth century. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Elegantly written and rich with humor and pathos, Thelonious Monk is the definitive work on modern jazz’s most original composer.