The ekphrasis Collection
Everyone’s favorite ekphrasis series, available now as a bundle. The ekphrasis series is dedicated to publishing rare, out-of-print, and newly commissioned texts as accessible paperback volumes. It is part of David Zwirner Books’s ongoing effort to publish new and surprising pieces of writing on visual culture.
Ramblings of a Wannabe Painter
by Paul Gauguin
“Criticism is our censorship . . .” So begins one of the greatest invectives against criticism ever written by an artist. Paul Gauguin wrote “Racontars de rapin” only months before he died in 1903, but the essay remained unpublished until 1951. Through discussions of numerous artists, both his contemporaries and predecessors, Gauguin unpacks what he viewed as the mistakes and misjudgments behind much of art criticism, revealing not only how wrong critics’ interpretations have been, but also what it would mean to approach art properly—to really look.
Chardin and Rembrandt
by Marcel Proust
Long overlooked in Proust’s posthumously published writings, Chardin and Rembrandt, written when he was only twenty-four years old, not only reemphasizes the importance of visual art to his development, but contains the seeds of his later work.
Degas and His Model
by Alice Michel
There are many myths about the artist Edgar Degas—from Degas the misanthrope to Degas the deviant, to Degas the obsessive. But there is no single text that better stokes the fire than Degas and His Model, a short memoir published by Alice Michel, who purportedly modeled for Degas.
Pissing Figures 1280-2014
by Jean-Claude Lebensztejn
Jean-Claude Lebensztejn’s history of the urinating figure in art is at once a scholarly inquiry into an important visual motif, and a ribald statement on transgression and limits in works of art in general. Lebensztejn is one of France’s best-kept secrets. A world-class art historian who has lectured and taught at major universities in the United States, his work has remained almost entirely in French, his American audience limited to a small but dedicated group of cognoscenti.
Letters to a Young Painter
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Never before translated into English, Rainer Maria Rilke’s fascinating Letters to a Young Painter, written toward the end of his life between 1920 and 1926, is a surprising companion to his infamous Letters to a Young Poet, earlier correspondence from 1902 to 1908. While the latter has become a global phenomenon, with millions of copies sold in many different languages, the present volume has been largely overlooked.
Summoning Pearl Harbor
by Alexander Nemerov
Summoning Pearl Harbor is a mesmerizing display of linguistic force that redefines remembering. How do words make the past appear? In what way does the historian summon bygone events? What is this kind of remembering, and for whom do we recall the dead, or the past?
The Psychology of an Art Writer
by Vernon Lee
An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England. This volume reintroduces Lee’s writing through the first-ever English publication of "Psychology of an Art Writer" (1903) along with selections from her groundbreaking "Gallery Diaries" (1901–1904), breathtaking accounts of Lee’s own experiences with the great paintings and sculptures she traveled to see.
Giotto and His Works in Padua
by John Ruskin
The Arena Chapel in Padua was completed in 1303; Giotto, then considered the preeminent painter in Italy, was commissioned to paint it in 1306. The resulting fresco cycle, detailing the history, birth, life, and death of Christ, ranks among the greatest artworks ever created.
On Contemporary Art
by Cesar Aira
Translated into English for the first time, On Contemporary Art, a speech by the renowned novelist César Aira, was delivered at a 2010 colloquium in Madrid dedicated to bridging the gap between writing and the visual arts.
Duchamp's Last Day
by Donald Shambroom
Published on the fiftieth anniversary of Marcel Duchamp’s death, Duchamp’s Last Day offers a radical reading of the artist’s final hours.
by Patrick Modiano and Dominique Zehrfuss
Published in English for the first time, 28 Paradises is the marriage of prose and painting by Nobel-prize winning author Patrick Modiano and his partner, the illustrator Dominique Zehrfuss.
The Critic as Artist
by Oscar Wilde
In The Critic as Artist, arguably the most complete exploration of his aesthetic thinking, and certainly the most entertaining, Oscar Wilde harnesses his famous wit to demolish the supposed boundary between art and criticism.
Visions and Ecstasies: Selected Essays
H.D.’s writing continues to inspire generations of readers. Bringing together a number of never-before-published essays, this new collection of H.D.’s writings introduces her compelling perspectives on art, myth, and the creative process.
Thrust: A Spasmodic Pictorial History of the Codpiece in Art
by Michael Glover
A laugh-out-loud visual history of the strangest piece of men’s clothing ever created: the codpiece.
A Balthus Notebook
by Guy Davenport
In his 1989 book on Balthus—the storied and controversial artist who worked in Paris throughout the twentieth century—Guy Davenport gives one of the most nuanced, literary, and compelling readings of the work of this master. Reading it today highlights the change in perspectives on sexuality and nudity in art in the past thirty years.
by Cynthia Zarin
From acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin comes a deeply personal meditation on two cities, Venice and Rome—each a work of art, both a monument to the past—and on how love and loss shape places and spaces.
The Cathedral Is Dying
by August Rodin
Master sculptor Auguste Rodin’s illuminating writings on cathedrals in France are especially relevant and significant following the recent fire at Notre Dame.
Photography and Belief
by David Levi Strauss
In this exploration of contemporary photography, David Levi Strauss questions the concept that “seeing is believing.”
The Salon of 1846
by Charles Baudelaire
In his introduction to Charles Baudelaire’s Salon of 1846, the renowned art historian Michael Fried presents a new take on the French poet and critic’s ideas on art, criticism, romanticism, and the paintings of Delacroix.
Oh, to Be a Painter!
by Virginia Woolf
The twentieth volume in the renowned series, this collection of Virginia Woolf’s writings on the visual arts offers a whole new perspective on the revolutionary author.
by Gertrude Stein
Originally published in 1930 in an edition of one hundred copies, Gertrude Stein’s Dix Portraits pairs her singular literary style with original lithographs by Pablo Picasso and other artists in Stein’s circle to create an exceptional artist book exploring written and visual portraiture.
Something Close to Music: Late Art Writings, Poems, and Playlists
by John Ashbery
An intimate and unique collection of the work of John Ashbery—a prolific poet and art critic—pairing poetry and art writings with playlists of music from his personal library.
Publisher: David Zwirner Books