I think by now you all know how much I love lists, and the satisfaction I get from checking them off one-by-one. So when Lists came in the mail, I was jumping for joy because not only do I love writing down every single thing that goes through my mind (reminders, to-dos, ideas, expenses, etc), but I love looking at the mundane details of other people’s lives in lists as well.
Title: Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations
Paperback: 208 pages
A list represents a moment in time, much like photographs. I use my moleskine to jot down schedules, ideas and even stumbling blocks — so that I can revisit them again in the future. Every phone number or detail expressed to me over the phone is jot down on the day itself so that I can remember where it is. Pieces of paper get lost – journals are harder to lose.
If photographs capture memories, then I’d say the same goes for lists and markings. Like photographs, they are stills of a particular time; most of them bearing meaning to the artist alone – and some were made with an outcome in mind (one of the most famous list in the Smithsonian Archives or American Art is Pablo Picasso’s recommendations for the Armory show for Walt Kuhn in 1912). My favorite entry was one that made me laugh — Eero Saarinen’s handwritten list of Aline Bernstein’s good qualities when he married her in 1954!
The book is written and curated by Liza Kirwin, the curator of archives at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. It features almost 70 artifacts and is a unique firsthand account of American cultural history that allow glimpses into the minds of some of the most celebrated and revered artists of the last two centuries.
The book is broken down into several different sections – expenses, instructions, inventory, personal and private to-dos, exhibitions, inspiration and also the list as art. Selected transcripts are available at the back of the book, so you can understand the artists’ writing.
My mind goes into hyperdrive when I read each description of a list. I tend to imagine the place where it was inked, the sight, sounds and the whole event itself. For me it is more of a visualization exercise, and these lists allow my mind to invent circumstances to which they were made!
I consider the book almost like a handy museum, crammed with delightful, inspiring and revealing lists made by artists. It’s an interesting thing – the subject of lists. I feel as though no matter who you are; a look through someone else’s list reassures the reader that they’re just like everyone else – made up of flesh and bone, emotions, hopes and dreams.
Who would want to read it?
If you’re a list lover (or in my case, obsessed). Readers who are interested in history — in this case, list-making as part of the subject.
Who wouldn’t want to pick this up?
People who don’t believe in lists, nor would want anything to do with a book about one.
And here’s proof of my obsession with lists: my own moleskine diary where all my lists end up:
Do you have lists that you’d like to share? Add them to the Pikaland Flickr group!
Have a great weekend!