Get Your Art Fix

8 Apr 2020

These are the books we’re reading just now

With more time on our hands we’re enjoying reading more. Here are the books we just can’t put down just now:

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Recommended by Bradley Vincent, Curator

What they say:

Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.

What the critics say:

‘A Vietnamese-American poet’s debut mines his extraordinary family story with passion and beauty.’ The Guardian

What Bradley says:

‘Ocean Vuong is the most compelling new voice I have read in years. I re-read this book the minute I finished it and then immediately listened to the audio book, narrated by the author himself. In this memoir, Vuong spans post-war Vietnam and contemporary middle America, conjuring both in language that is poetic but never uncertain. I found it transformational. Contemporary writing at its best.’


The Life and Death of Andy Warhol by Victor Bockris.

Recommended by Diana Warnes, Head of Curatorial Projects

What they say:

The first comprehensive biography, from birth to death, of the most famous, controversial and influential American artist of our time, revealing never-before-told details about his depressive childhood in Pittsburgh to his breaking into the New York art world in the ’50s and ’60s.

What the critics say:

‘One of the century’s most outrageous as well as most influential artists, with effects that keep on strengthening two years after his death, Warhol had the aptitude for scandalous success that Jean Cocteau called knowing how far to go too far.’ New York Times

What Diana says:

‘I once bought a pair of socks with Andy Warhol’s face printed on them. Andy elevated everyday commodities to high art and in a curious twist his own face has become commercially viable in the most unlikely of mediums! In an art market filled with Warhol-inspired merchandise, this early biography cleverly reminds us of Andy’s eccentricities and artistic ambitions in an engaging and insightful read.’


Yes Naturally: How Art Saves the World by Ine Gevers

Recommended by Sarah Lewis, Public Programs Coordinator

What they say:

Yes Naturally documents an exhibition in The Hague in which 80 artists–including Francis Alÿs, Jimmie Durham, Olafur Eliasson, Damien Hirst, Zeger Reyers, Superflex and Ai Weiwei–explore the topic of humanity’s co-existence with (and existential equivalence to) nature.

What the critics say:

‘A large-scale, inspirational extended exhibition in and around the Gemeentemuseum, in which artists invite us to let go of preconceived ideas about nature, culture and technology.

What Sarah says:

‘Bacteria and the forces of nature collaborate with 80 artists, including Olafur Eliason, Damien Hirst and Ai Wei Wei to explore the relationships between humans and non-humans. Lushly illustrated, this exhibition catalogue also features short and accessible essays by philosophers, ecologists, and anthropologists. Read this book if you want to get excited by the interconnectedness of things.’


Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Recommended by Ruth Della, Curator, Public Art and Outdoor Programming

What they say:

An incisive book about creativity in business Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve centre of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, post-mortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

What the critics say:

‘One of my favourite things about Ed Catmull is that he comes across as a leader you want to have.’ Medium.

What Ruth says:

‘Ed Catmull shares the story of his early days in computer graphics and the transition to managing and building the greatest animation company ever, Pixar. He gives specific examples of things that worked and did not work building a company and a culture that puts people first and story second, ultimately showing this is key for creatives to produce their very best work as storytellers. It is a motivating and enlightening read and offers insight into the long and sometimes tumultuous friendship with Steve Jobs.’