DOROTHY IANNONE, MY DOWNTOWN NEW YORK OF THE 60'S (2007)
American expatriate, Dorothy Iannone has been living in Berlin since the 70s. Her map recalls her Downtown in the 60s listing her favorite galleries, cinemas and bars. More importantly she tells the story of a kinky meeting with Allen Ginsberg who bit her belly on their first encounter. Iannone was also responsible for smuggling Henry Miller's books across the border when they were still illegal in the US. Her experience with the police is recalled in her psychedelic map.
The first part of my literary 10 for 2010 focused on a fiction author and reading series host Benjamin Weissman, comics expert and publisher Dan Nadel, and music journalist, Jay Babcock of Arthur Magazine. My respect for these artists stems from not only the work they generate but also from their community-building efforts and their impact on my life. This time, I’ll branch it out even further to discuss poetry, non-fiction, and artists’ books.
1/ Amy Gerstler and her new book, Dearest Creature (Penguin)
Gerstler is a modern-day surrealist with a practical edge. Her reflective poetry and prose is dream-like, but it is also rooted in the complex realities of human emotion. I first learned of Gerstler back in college, when a poetry professor of mine recommended her. An instant fan, I collected all of her books back then and discovered that she was a major participant at Beyond Baroque during its heyday. (In the 80s, Beyond Baroque not only hosted incredible author events, but also collected and distributed all the cool experimental literary magazines, including some they printed through their organization. They now house an excellent chapbook archive.) Gerstler has written many books, and every volume is exquisite. Her poetry, often penned in long, skinny columns or in blocky prose-poem like forms, is musical but not at all cryptic or aloof. Her new book, Dearest Creature, just came out! Here’s a feature article that the LA Times just ran about her:
Please support this important American poet and nab a copy at your local bookstore.
PS Gerstler is also an essayist and art critic and she publishes in many different veins; watch for her work!
2/ Brian Sholis, critic, curator, and essayist
Brian Sholis has an insatiable appetite for observing culture and making something of it intellectually. He cut his teeth writing art reviews but now he is writing all manner of book reviews and long-form essays on a variety of topics. He often writes catalog essays for MoMA Books now, and recently published a stellar one on Contemporary New York Art in their new catalog raisonné for the Judith Rothschild Foundation’s Contemporary Drawing Collection. Art writing can be really dry and overly academic, but Sholis has a unique ability to infuse his intellectual insight with an easy-going writing style. You don’t have to be an art critic to enjoy reading Sholis’s work. He also has that uncanny critical ability to view diverse works and link them all together through cultural assessments. He frequently writes for Artforum, and many other magazines. His website serves as an archive of his work:
Sholis also recently curated an artists' book library for the Younger Than Jesus show at New Museum. I was proud to have my Werewolf Express zine displayed there on the table alongside so many other radical publications...see it there in orange?:
MoMA book mentioned:
3/ Dorothy Iannone, artist and bookmaker:
Dorothy Iannone is a Berlin-based artist whose drawings and paintings are amongst my favorite. She has been making work since the 1960s and is an internationally exhibiting artist. I list her here because she has an incredible body of artists’ books that many museum have in their rare books collections. They have inspired me deeply, as they each take a sensitive, personal approach to analyzing events that have happened in the artist’s life. Her eye for color and her ability to hand-letter text around her drawings astounds me. For example, on view for two more weeks at New Museum, her show “Lioness” includes a book of hers, The Icelandic Saga (1978), pulled apart and displayed as panels. Drawn in black and white, it chronicles the story of her first encounter with long-time lover, Dieter Roth.
If you don’t make it to a museum to view her work in person, Boekie Woekie, an artists’ bookstore in Amsterdam, has a nice sale record of Iannone’s handmade titles: