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Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Collections of the Smithsonian Museum [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

Liza Kirwin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Bargain Price, March 24, 2010 --  

Book Description

March 24, 2010 1568988885 1
From the weekly shopping list to the Ten Commandments, our lives are shaped by lists. Whether dashed off as a quick reminder, or carefully constructed as an inventory, this humble form of documentation provides insight into its maker's personal habits and decision-making processes. This is especially true for artists, whose day-to-day acts of living and art-making overlap and inform each other. Artists' lists shed uncover a host of unbeknownst motivations, attitudes, and opinions about their work and the work of others. Lists presents almost seventy artifacts, including "to do" lists, membership lists, lists of paintings sold, lists of books to read, lists of appointments made and met, lists of supplies to get, lists of places to see, and lists of people who are "in."

At times introspective, humorous, and resolute, but always revealing and engaging, Lists is a unique firsthand account of American cultural history that augments the personal biographies of some of the most celebrated and revered artists of thelast two centuries. Many of the lists are historically important, throwing a flood of light on a moment, movement, or event; others are private, providing an intimate view of an artist's personal life: Pablo Picasso itemized his recommendations for the Armory Show in 1912; architect Eero Saarinen enumerated the good qualities of the then New York Times art editor and critic Aline Bernstein, his second wife; sculptor Alexander Calder's address book reveals the whos who of the Parisian avant-garde in the early twentieth century. In the hands of their creators, these artifacts become works of art in and of themselves. Lists includes rarely seen specimens by Vito Acconci, Leo Castelli, Joseph Cornell, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, H. L. Mencken, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Andrew Wyeth.

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Editorial Reviews


"This book makes a nice pairing with Obsessive Consumption, above, providing another way to peer inside the surprisingly mundane lives of artists. Curator Liza Kirwin has gathered from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art dozens of examples of unremarkable lists made by remarkable men and women.

The lists themselves demonstrate clearly that geniuses truly are just like you and me. But it is precisely those actual accomplishments outside of the mundane list-making realm that make these lists worthy of collection, curation, and in the case of this book, further study. We see lists of paintings sold, lists of appointments, lists of books to read and more. Many of the lists give us more than just daily ephemera: we see Pablo Picasso listing his recommendations for the epoch-making Armory Show in 1912, Alexander Calder's address book is a who's who of the Parisian scene when he lived there." --my3books

"`Lists' is by turns funny, telling and mundane. There are plenty of price lists, invoices and other pieces of financial arcana that demystify art-making. At times, the creative process doesn't seem any different or more magical than, say, plumbing."

But what's most remarkable about the show is its ability to stir emotion, through something as prosaic as a list." --The Washington Post

"From a February 13, 1967, postcard sent by artist Robert Morris to collector Samuel Wagstaff, describing `earthworks', artworks created in nature with dirt, stones, and other found materials. The postcard is included in Lists, a collection of artists' lists and visual inventories in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, edited by Liza Kirwin, out this month from Princeton Architectural Press." --Harper's Magazine

"Its a book that turns the trivial into treasure. " -- Rosecrans Baldwin --The Morning News, May 17, 2010

"... looking at this new book from Princeton Architectural Press, I am realizing I am missing the beauty of the handmade list." -- Liza Kirwin --Books By Its Cover, May 13, 2010

"With often funny and poignant illustrations or fanciful scrawl, the lists shed some light on the artistic process." -- Eva Medoff --CITYist, May 7th, 2010

"If you're a list-maker yourself, I suggest adding reading this book to your must-read list." -- Marion Boddy-Evans

"Now, here's a gift idea for the ephemera lover on your list that has everything!" --Ephemera Blog, May 4, 2010

"...produced with Princetons usual aplomb." --Its Nice That, May 2010

About the Author

Liza Kirwin is the curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. She is the author of several books, including More Than Words (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005).

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568988885
  • ASIN: B00ANYV38G
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,352,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for any art curio February 24, 2011
By QLoh.
A delicious thumb through read for anyone interested in getting a glimpse of genius artists' handwritten notes, sketches, and of course lists. The book itself is beautiful especially the finish of the paper and each note is accompanied by a small description with select translations at the back (many of the notes are partly illegible scribbles and strokes). I highly recommend!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I'm surprised there aren't any reviews here yet for this book. This book is gorgeously produced and features a wonderful selection of unusual, illustrated lists created by artists. This selection is nicely curated by Liza Kirwin from the collections of the Smithsonian. I'm an inveterate list-maker as well as an illustrator, so this for me is a beautiful and fascinating compendium. I just spent a couple of hours at my local brick and mortar bookstore drooling over this book. It's at the top of my wishlist.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice book. April 14, 2013
By Emily
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after visiting an exhibit on list-making at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Good book, not amazing. Fun to flip through every now and then.
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