Top Five: April 2, 2020. Texas Art Books to Hunker Down With

by Glasstire April 2, 2020

Brandon Zech, Christina Rees, and Christopher Blay show and tell their favorite Texas art books to hunker down with during these shelter-in-place days.

“Another theme we’re going on today are things that are well-designed and live on their own, even outside of the art itself.”


The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology
William A. Ewing (Editor), Barbara P. Hitchcock (Editor), June, 2017

From Christina Rees’ 2017 review of the show:

Polaroid effectively shut down in 2008, right in the middle of a nostalgia wave that shows no signs of slowing. The affection and recognition of Polaroid as a phenomenon has gripped generations of amateur and professional photographers, and still does to a degree, and the current show at the Amon Carter is a loving homage to a form, but it’s also a funereal afterword, and maybe also the denial phase of grief — this one authored by the artists who’ve embraced and stretched the technology over the decades. It’s a beautiful show, and a poetic and expansive illustration of a form’s life and death. It’s years in the making and it opens not a moment too soon. Nostalgia or no, our technology revolution means that time is speeding up the way we look at and make everything, and even earnest efforts like the Impossible Project can’t put that ferocious and very hungry cat back in the bag.



As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930
Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb; Foreword by David Byrne, UT Press, November, 2015

From Gene Fowler’s 2015 review:

“Odd Fellows. Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Surely you’ve seen that term on signage all your life. And I know that you wondered. You sooo wondered. What makes these fellows odd? And why are they proclaiming it so publicly? Why are they organizing like this? Exactly how odd are they? Would they find me odd?

“If your musing about this mystery ever made you feel discombobulated, know that even a person as perceptive and accomplished as musician and artist David Byrne has also pondered this oddity. He says so in the foreword to the new book As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930 by Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb. Byrne describes the world inhabited by the Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and numerous other fraternal organizations as ‘an other America,’  a place where secret societies flourished (and flourish still), reveling in pageantry and ritual performance imbued with “an inspiring and wacky solemnity.”



The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion
Mark Dion, Margaret C. Adler, Yale University Press, February, 2020

From the Amon Cater: “Artist Mark Dion retraces the footsteps of several 19th-century explorers in Texas, collecting materials to form a site-specific exhibition you can see only at the Carter. One of the most well-regarded living artists today, Dion is part explorer and part historian; part naturalist and part collector of curiosities. More than 150 years after the Texas explorers he followed, The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion enhances our understanding of the past and ultimately brings it to life in the present day.”



Rauschenberg Sculpture
Modern Art Museum Of Forth Worth, October, 1995

An original exhibition catalog by Julia Brown Turrell & David White (Curator). Fort Worth, TX, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 1995. Hardcover. Dustjacket. 135 pp. Ills. 31 cm. English text. Issued in connection with the exhibition held Oct. 22-Dec. 31, 1995 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Apr. 24-June 9, 1996 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida. Contents: Conversation about the sculpture of Robert Rauschenberg with Pontus Hulten and Julia Brown Turrell — Talking to Robert Rauschenberg: an interview with Julia Brown Turrell — Pail for Ganymede: essay by Marjorie Welish.



Collision: The Contemporary Art Scene In Houston, 1972 – 1985
Pete Gershon, Texas A&M University Press, December, 2018

“The research was really addictive, and I am so lucky to have had mostly unrestricted access to the archives of the MFAH, the CAMH, and Lawndale, along with the personal papers of many individual artists and administrators. I worked on this book slowly and patiently for about five years, and even with about 140,000 words, in some ways I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what was happening here.” -Pete Gershon

Read Chrfistina Rees’ conversation with author Pete Gershon here. Listen to an episode of Art Dirt featuring Gershon here.



Extra: Video/Art: The First Fifty Years
Barbara London, Phaidon Press, January, 2020

From Phaidon: “Since the introduction of portable consumer electronics nearly a half century ago, artists throughout the world have adapted their latest technologies to art-making. In this book, curator Barbara London traces the history of video art as it transformed into the broader field of media art — from analog to digital, small TV monitors to wall-scale projections, and clunky hardware to user-friendly software. In doing so, she reveals how video evolved from fringe status to be seen as one of the foremost art forms of today.”


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D. Jack Davis April 2, 2020 - 12:25

I think Ron Tyler’ 250 Years of Texas Art should be in the top five list. It is the first comprehensive look that has been taken at early Texas art.


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