Summer Reading List 2015

Summertime is upon us and book recommendations are pouring in. For the third installment of the Don’t Take Pictures reading list, I have compiled a Summer reading list for all of you arts readers looking for something to take on vacation or fill time between semesters. I have chosen to limit this list to printed books and not include online content or periodicals. I have read each book on this list (often more than once), and selected titles that I have found helpful in my own art and business practices. This list is not intended to be a review of each book, nor is it focused on new releases, as there are so many great books that remain relevant today. 

I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette
Paper Monument
Publisher: Paper Monument, 2009
Pages: 56

The art world can be a complicated and sometimes snobby place to navigate socially. This slim volume features contributions from 38 artists, critics, curators, and dealers. The advice presented varies widely from serious to sarcastic and should not be interpreted as a how-to or even as a what-not-to-do manual. But as a whole the book presents a great picture of the spectrum of behavior as experienced by those who frequent social situations in the arts. 

Purchase from Paper Monument



Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else
David Balzer
Publisher: Coach House Books, 2014
Pages: 144

“Curate” is the buzzword of the decade. But with its frequent overuse, what does it really mean to curate? Author David Balzer provides an overview of the history of the curator as a profession before moving into the current cultural definitions and examples of the word. This small book is longer than an academic essay, but shorter and easier to digest than a dissertation. It is a good read for those looking to further understanding of how the art of selection infiltrates our culture. 

Purchase from Coach House Books


Understanding a Photograph
John Berger, Edited by Geoff Dyer
Publisher: Aperture; Reprint edition, 2013
Pages: 256 

Essayist Geoff Dyer has selected some of John Berger’s more influential art criticism essays as well as previously uncollected pieces that discuss the meaning of photographs and the impact that the medium has on society, culture, and politics. I Recommend this book for anyone interested in insightful examination of photography’s evolving influence. 

Purchase from Aperture


Witness in Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers
Ken Light
Publisher: Smithsonian Books, 2010 (second edition)
Pages: 280

Featuring essays by some of the most influential documentary photographers of the 21st century, this book provides a solid foundation to the history of documentary photography. Each chapter begins with the photographer (or editor’s) brief biography before moving into a first-person essay about the their life and experiences as related to photography. I highly recommend this book for photographers interested in social documentary and for those looking for compelling biographies. 

Purchase from Amazon


The Artist-Gallery Partnership: A Practical Guide to Consigning Art
Tad Crawford & Susan Mellon
Publisher: Allworth Press, 2008
Pages: 216

Author Tad Crawford is an attorney and artists’ rights advocate. To help make sense of consignment contracts, this book offers an easy-to-follow explanation of what a consignment relationship is and how it functions, including a breaks down of legal terms. Complete with state-specific laws and sample forms, this book is a must-read for artists and dealers alike. 

Purchase from Barnes and Noble



Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
Sally Mann
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2015
Pages: 496

Mentioned previously on DTP, acclaimed photographer Sally Mann’s memoir is a beautifully crafted story about a life of photography. Regardless of your feelings towards the artist of her work, I recommend this book for those interested in what a successful artist has to say about the thought process, struggles, and triumphs involved in making of photographs and living a creative life. 

Purchase from Photo-Eye Bookstore


For more recommended reading, see 2014's Summer and Winter reading lists.

Kat Kiernan is the Editor-in-Chief of Don't Take Pictures