December Reading List: Modern Moment

From minimalist art to the art of blues to angst over constant change, the themes that caught our attention this month derive from modernist thought.

Donald Judd Writings (David Zwirner Books and Judd Foundation), a chronological collection of Judd’s prose spanning 35 years, includes previously unpublished college papers, never-before-seen notes, and requisite well-known essays, such as “Specific Objects.” This tome illuminates the thought processes of this influential visual artist who helped shape the field of art criticism and reviews.

Sterling Ruby (Phaidon) presents photographs of the American artist’s multimedia creations and installations  alongside interviews and essays from prominent museum directors. The richly illustrated book presents Ruby’s works like Rorschach blots from which the reader is invited to contextualize meaning.

The Art of the Blues (University of Chicago Press) presents an archive of the genre’s history and identity, as anthologized by freelance music journalist and historian Bill Dahl. Posters, advertisements, and album covers delineate a colorful timeline for the evolution of a distinctly American art form: the blues.

In Modern Life (TeNeues), French illustrator Jean Jullien’s clever and instantly relatable works lampoon contemporary culture. Ripe with visual language and semantics, Jullien’s collection of cartoonish illustrations is a proverbial children’s book for adults.

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