Menil Bookstore
Saturday, February 18, 2006
  E.G. Asplund 1885-1940

Erik Gunnar Asplund was a Swedish contemporary of Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe. He was responsible for the design of the Stockholm City Library, the Skandia Cinema, and the Woodland Cemetary outside of Stockholm. He was not nearly as well known as his contemporaries, nor was he as prolific. However, he should be considered a master amongst twentieth century Scandinavian architect/designers. The City Library, which he designed, is a masterpiece; a light and airy round space, suited for lofty thoughts. This volume, from Toto (the people that manufacture toilets and urinals), is part of a series on modern master architects. Asplund joins Louis I. Kahn and Luis Barragan's Casa Barragan in their latest offering. I am a big fan of these books because of the quality of the printing and photography. The colors are lush and dense and show these architect's designs in the best possible light. Price: $68.00, ISBN: 4887062575
Friday, February 17, 2006
  Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing

Before I begin this book entry, let me assure you that the Menil Bookstore Blog is still rolling along despite evidence to the contrary. We had a dry spell and much of our new Spring stock is arriving as I write. The Eva Hesse: Drawings catalog will be delayed until April and the long-awaited Robert Gober: Meatwagon catalog is due here in mid-March.

One of my favorite new books is back in stock. Phaidon began this series with a similarly titled volume Vitamin P, about contemporary painting practice. Vitamin D is ostensibly about contemporary drawing (Phaidon's representative also informs me that a Vitamin Ph, for photography, is due out, possibly in the Fall.). Phaidon's editors contacted a host of curators to nominate potential candidates for inclusion in Vitamin D. What results is a group of 109 contemporary artists, primarily engaged in the language of drawing that should give us a "snapshot" of drawing today. As a student, I always loved books like this because it was a kind of "one-stop-shopping" for information. In this case, the packaging of the title doesn't hurt either. The designer, Julia Hasting, elected to use deckled-edge paper for the signatures of the book, and the book jacket resembles drawing paper. This greatly enhances the tactile quality of the book, which, for a paper junkie like myself, is important. My only criticism of this title is that there is a tendency in the curating community to follow trends rather than set them. I really like many of the artists in this book, but I wonder if five years down the road these same curators would stand by their choices. Despite that, there are some really wonderful artists included here, and maybe I'm just playing devil's advocate. Emma Dexter, of the Tate Modern, supplies the introduction, and Alison M. Gingeras, Dominic Molon, Vasif Kortun, Lars Bang Larsen, and Hans Ulrich Obrist (as well as several others) have authored entries on the artists. There is some local flavor in the book as well. Houston residents Trenton Doyle Hancock and Robyn O'Neil were both selected for inclusion in this title. Congratulations to both of them. Vitamin D retails for $69.95. ISBN: 0714845450
The Menil Collection Bookstore features the best books about modern and contemporary art, modern and contemporary architecture, design, and pop culture. We are located opposite The Menil Collection on Sul Ross Street in the heart of Montrose, Houston's arts district. For more information about the museum, please visit The Menil Collection online. Contact us at or by phone, 713-535-3180.

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