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Artists at Work: Inside the Studios of Today's Most Celebrated Artists Hardcover – November 20, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Artists at Work is the sort of irresistible book that has come along frequently since artists and their working spaces became almost as fascinating as art itself. The first such tome, perhaps, was Brian O'Doherty and Hans Namuth's classic, American Masters: The Voice and the Myth, in which the minds and studios of such giants as Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko are toured. Artists at Work has an equally illustrious cast: Louise Bourgeois, John Cage, the late Roy Lichtenstein and Joan Mitchell, Terry Winters, Jasper Johns, and, in this context, younger artists like Ross Bleckner, Roni Horn, Philip Taaffe, and Cindy Sherman. Photographer David Seidner visits 20 artists in all, and his pictures are themselves exceedingly artful--balanced, clear, somewhat soulful.

There is a lot to see here--Joan Mitchell's boxes of fat pastels, and her mangled, well-used paint tubes and housepainter's brushes; Terry Winters's glass, flat-bottomed pestles; Richard Serra's cluttered worktable. Artists at Work, however, has the slightly slick look of a fashion project. And, unfortunately, Seidner's brief essays are not illuminating enough. While most are fawning, he is not always kind, mocking Louise Bourgeois with a backhanded, mincing fervor. Some of his observations are irritating for their airiness: "[Brice Marden's] looks and his physique--especially when he has his hair long and wears his black jeans--give him an eternally youthful quality." Others--his continual references to "my good friend," "my dear friend," etc.--make readers appreciate, more than ever, the substantive text Brian O'Doherty offered an earlier generation of artists. --Peggy Moorman

About the Author

David Seidner's photographs have been featured in Vanity Fair, French Vogue, Italian Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine. He wrote extensively on art for French Vogue and was a contributing editor to the art magazine BOMB. In 1999, he won the Eisenstaedt Award for Portrait Photography awarded by Life magazine and Columbia University. Over the last twenty years, Seidner had a dozen solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. His recent untimely death from AIDS has generated a tremendous amount of media attention for his body of work. La Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, which has 150 of his photographs in their permanent collection, will hold a retrospective of his work in 2000.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (November 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847822370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847822379
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.3 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,427,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Sarah on April 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was so excited when I stumbled upon this book in my local library; rarely do we get a glimpse into the creative worlds of artists - until they're dead and their studio becomes a museum, for example.
As an artist myself, I found the photographs both beautiful and extremely insightful. Even so, I finished the book feeling disappointed and somewhat cheated. The text was not only poorly written, but the content of it had nothing to do with the artists' studios. Instead, the author used the few introductory paragraphs before each featured artist as a way to name drop and tell us when and how and why he met this or that artist. It was almost too difficult for me to read - here I was looking at these beautiful -and rare- photographs of intimate spaces where some of the greatest minds of the 20th century created what will be their lasting contribution to society, and the text said nothing about them. I would have loved to read more about what it was actually like to be in these spaces - what was surprising, exciting, disturbing, etc about them. It would have given much more meaning to the book as a whole.
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Format: Hardcover
I've talked to many buyers of art who believe that if they were to be invited into famous artists' studios, they would be seeing something straight out of the pages of "Architectural Digest." You know, natural wood, soaring spaces, immaculate wood floors, pristine white walls to be hung with dazzling works of art, views of the sea or equivalent and so forth. Nothing could be further from the truth and this book captures that. Although these artists could all afford the best space, their space is as utilitarian as I would expect it to be. The spaces are stark, undecorated, with bare floors, often with paint splattered on them or even gouged. They do have high ceilings but because it makes it better to view and move around their work which is scattered all over the studio.

Their tables are utilitarian and used with maybe one chair to sit in; ditto their paint containers and tools. The "view" is what is inside the studio itself as they are in there to look at their own work. Staring at the work can be an important part of the process. The walls are kept light and are simply painted white or even in need of a paint job. Probably over 90% of all artists worldwide could show you space that looked much the same, located in their basements, garages or barns. I don't really see why any artist needs to buy this book but if you have some romantic illusion about artists' studios, and some people do, this book will straighten you out fast!

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The photographs in this book are beautiful and also revealing about each artist's approach to his/her work. I wish that the text was more elucidating, but it seems the book is more concerned with conveying a sense of each artist's personality rather than a scholarly study of their work. Some might say that it's merely a coffee table book.
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Format: Hardcover
Very nice book, well done, cool pictures but I wish I had seen more artists actually at work instead of empty, clean studios. That and the texts that were a bit on teh weak side. Besides that, really cool book, I recommend it.

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