PRINT March 1994


the Book Picture, Take Two

WHAT DOES THE ART WORLD READ? Once again we’ve asked artists, writers, curators, critics, and a few choice wits to answer the question: What book has most influenced your work or your life?

Contra Fran Lebowitz’s witty counsel in the last installment of this column (December 1993) and Quentin Crisp’s in this, a number of artists and art-worlders do pore over dense tomes in their spare moments. Kirk Varnedoe, chief curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, reveals not only that he reads voraciously but that peeking at artists’ bookshelves over the years has given him telling insights into both their reading habits and the relationship between what they read and what they make.

Just what is that relationship? Minimal. Many artists read avidly, Varnedoe maintains, but “a full library doesn’t always get through the filter into the art.” Crisp—author (The Naked Civil Servant), artist’s model,

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