Art is in the Air

By Eileen O. Thu, April 19, 2012

With the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, and our own very Print and Picture Collection to name a few, the opening of the Barnes Foundation--our new neighbors—continues to make the Parkway thrive with world-renowned art. With the excitement abounding and opportunities to visit so many wonderful collections, I thought I’d recommend a few books to get your inspiration flowing.

Calvin Tomkins, of The New Yorker fame, offers an intriguing and well-written portrait of American artist Robert Rauschenberg in Off the Wall. Tomkins illuminates the extremely productive period (the 1950s and 60s) of Rauschenberg’s artistic life, along with his relationships with fellow New York City artists like Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage. 

To find out more about the lives of the artists on which the Barnes collection is focused, try The Private Lives of the Impressionists. From Manet to Renior, Monet to Degas, Sue Roe’s account of the beloved Paris art scene will have you yearning for a time machine to drop you on the side of the Seine circa 1880.

If you’re more interested in the business and political side of the art world, there are always collectors and their beloved collections. One of the liveliest American collectors and among the first women of her time to do so, Peggy Guggenheim made a name for herself by buying and supporting abstract and surrealist artists. Anton Gill’s Art Lover creates an honest portrayal of the sometimes controversial, but consistently fascinating Guggenheim—from her friendships with Marcel Duchamp and Djuna Barnes, to her many (mostly rumored) affairs with artistic hot shots of the time like Jackson Pollock and Samuel Beckett, and her failed marriage to Surrealist Max Ernst.

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