What we're about

The Art Book Club welcomes anyone who is interested in the topic of art and life, and enjoys discussion of significant literature with others over good food! Our group has been meeting for over 6 years now and has attracted artists, art dealers, art historians, arts writers and docents along with persons in a broad variety of pursuits. We are now looking for new members. If you love art and literature, or just want to know more about it, please join us!

Here is our schedule for 2019:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 6:30 PM

"Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over", by Nell Painter

Following her retirement from Princeton University, celebrated historian Dr. Nell Irvin Painter surprised everyone in her life by returning to school―in her sixties―to earn a BFA and MFA in painting. In "Old In Art School", she travels from her beloved Newark to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design; finds meaning in the artists she loves, even as she comes to understand how they may be undervalued; and struggles with the unstable balance between the pursuit of art and the inevitable, sometimes painful demands of a life fully lived.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 6:30 PM

"The Blazing World" by Siri Hustvedt

Internationally bestselling author Siri Hustved tells the provocative story of artist Harriet Burden, who after years of having her work ignored, ignites an explosive scandal in New York’s art world when she recruits three young men to present her creations as their own. Yet when the shows succeed and Burden steps forward for her triumphant reveal, she is betrayed by the third man, Rune. Many critics side with him, and Burden and Rune find themselves in a charged and dangerous game, one that ends in his bizarre death. This “glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship” (San Francisco Chronicle), with rich and complex characters, unfolds from multiple perspectives as Harriet’s critics, fans, family, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of where the truth lies.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 6:30 PM

"The Glamour of Strangeness" by Jamie James

Focusing on six principal subjects, Jamie James locates “a lost national school” of artists, stifled by the culture of their homelands, who left their homes for the unknown. There is Walter Spies, the devastatingly handsome German painter who remade his life in Bali; Raden Saleh, the Javanese painter who found fame in Europe; Isabelle Eberhardt, a Russian-Swiss writer who roamed the Sahara dressed as an Arab man; the American experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, who went to Haiti and became a committed follower of voodoo. From France, Paul Gauguin set sail for Tahiti; Victor Segalen, a naval doctor, poet, and novelist, immersed himself in classical Chinese civilization in imperial Peking. James evokes these extraordinary lives in portraits that bring the transcultural artist into sharp relief. Drawing on his own career as a travel writer and years of archival research uncovering previously unpublished letters and journals, James creates a penetrating investigation of the powerful connection between art and the exotic.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 6:30 PM

"Swann In Love" by Marcel Proust

"Swann in Love", a novella contained within the first volume, "Swann's Way", of Marcel Proust's masterwork "In Search of Lost Time" is an excellent entry point into Proust's work, and also a compelling standalone novel. In its some two hundred pages the portrait of a stormy love affair between the courtesan Odette de Crécy and upper-class socialite Charles Swann gives way to profound meditations on love and jealousy. One of the most profoundly visual works in Western literature, we will discuss the text with reference to the many works of art described therein. We will use the newest, celebrated translation by Lydia Davis.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 6:30 PM

"Stealing Andrew Wyeth" by Bruce Mowday

Author Bruce Mowday will give a talk to our group on the subject of his newly released book, "Stealing Andrew Wyeth". Mowday was the newspaper reporter who covered the theft of 15 paintings from the Wyeth estate. His book details the crime, the reactions of the Wyeths and the international art world, and the investigation that led to their recovery. For more information see http://www.mowday.com

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 6:30 PM

"Proust Was a Neuroscientist" by Jonah Lehrer

Science writer Jonah Lehrer urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both, to brilliant effect. In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first. Taking a group of artists — a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists — Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain’s malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language — a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists. Lehrer shows that there’s a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and art knows this better than science does.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019, 6:30 PM

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce

"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" portrays protagonist's Stephen Dedalus’s Dublin childhood, echoing the the youth of writer James Joyce. At its center are questions of origin and source, authority and authorship, and the relationship of an artist to his family, culture, and race. Considered to be exuberantly inventive and one of the classic masterpieces of 20th century fiction, this coming-of-age story is a tour de force of style and technique.

Here is what we have read in the past:

2018:

"Everybody Was So Young" by Amanda Vail"

"The Matisse Stories" by A.S. Byatt

" Goya", by Robert Hughes

"The Unknown Masterpiece" by Honore de Balzac

"Georgia O'Keeffe" by Nancy Scott

"The Music Lesson" by Katherine Weber

2017:

"Frida" by Barbara Mujica

"The Painted Word" by Tom Wolfe

"Artist of the Floating World" by Kashuo Ishiguro

"The History of Beauty" by Umberto Eco

"How to Be Both" by Ali Smith

"The Artist's Voice: Talks With 17 Modern Artists" by Katherine Kuh

2016:

"Matisse and Picasso" by Jack Flam

"The Improbability of Love" by Hannah Rothschild

"The Lives of the Muses" by Francine Prose

"All Passion Spent" by Vita Sackville West

Session on Art Criticism: Selections from "Nothing If Not Critical" by Robert Hughes, "Magicians and Charlatans" by Jed Perl, "Still Looking: Essays on American Art" by John Updike, and "Let's See: Writings on Art From the New Yorker" by Peter Schjeldahl

"The Lady In Gold, The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer", by Ann Marie O'Connor

2015:

"Willian Glackens and the Eight" by Ira Glackens

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

"Sargent's Daughters" by Erica Hirschler

"The Golden Child" by Penelope Fitzgerald

"The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri

" Priceless" by Robert Wittman

2014:

"The Forger's Spell" by Edward Dolnick

"The Song of the Lark" by Willa Cather

"The Painter's Chair, George Washington and the Making of American Art" by Hugh Howard

"The Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner

"Color, A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Findlay

"The Gravity of Birds" by Tracy Guzeman

2013-

"Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles" by Francine Prose

"A Month In the Country" by J.L. Carr

"The Masterpiece" by Emile Zola

"The Architecture of Happiness" by Alain de Botton

"The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver

At any time you can register to attend one of these sessions by calling Paoli Library at 610 296 7996!

Upcoming events (1)

Let's Meet to Discuss "The Blazing World" by Siri Hustvedt

Internationally bestselling author Siri Hustvedt tells the provocative story of artist Harriet Burden, who after years of having her work ignored, ignites an explosive scandal in New York's art world when she recruits three young men to present her creations as their own. Yet when the shows succeed and Burden steps forward for her triumpant reveal, she is betrayed by one of the men. Many critics side with him, and Burden soon finds herself in a charged and dangerous game leading to a bizarre death. This "glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship" (San Francisco Chronicle), with rich and complex characters, unfolds from multiple perspectives as Harriet's critics, fans, family, and others offer their own conflicting opinions on where the truth lies. "Have you ever met an artist who didn't want to be famous? Artists are the greatest delayed gratification people in the world." Mary Beth Edelson, artist

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