The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired- Francine Prose
In The Lives of the Muses, Francine Prose writes a spirited and enlightening exposé of nine women who fired the imaginations of some of the most inimitable artists and thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. With wicked wit, she shows how these women were both exemplars of their times and iconoclasts struggling to assert their own identity within the unconventional relationships they formed with these men. In doing so, she undertakes an examination of the concept of the muse in all its permutations–from the static nine Muses of classical Greek mythology, through Dante’s oft-recycled Beatrice, to its ironized figuration in contemporary popular culture.
The View From the Studio Door – Ted Orland
In the perennial best-seller Art & Fear, Ted Orland (with David Bayles) examined the obstacles that artists encounter each time they enter their studio and stand before a new blank canvas. Now, in The View From The Studio Door, Orland turns his attention to broader issues that stand to either side of that artistic moment of truth. In a text marked by grace, brevity and humor, Orland argues that when it comes to art making, theory and practice are always intertwined. There are timeless philosophical questions (How do we make sense of the world?) that address the very nature of art making, as well as gritty real-world questions (Is there art after graduation?) that artists encounter the moment they’re off the starting blocks and producing work on a regular basis.
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
It would take a deeply cynical heart not to fall in love with Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. At the end of this millennium, his slender book holds everything a student of the century could want: the unedited thoughts of (arguably) the most important European poet of the modern age. Rilke wrote these 10 sweepingly emotional letters in 1903, addressing a former student of one of his own teachers. The recipient was wise enough to omit his own inquiries from the finished product, which means that we get a marvelously undiluted dose of Rilkean aesthetics and exhortation.
Anything by Nick Bantock
Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence
The Museum at Purgatory
The Forgetting Room
The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell