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Blake Gopnik's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Blake Gopnik recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Blake Gopnik's favorite book recommendations of all time.



Andy Warhol

Warhol's Factory as seen through the lens of a young Shore, providing an insider view of this extraordinary moment and place

Stephen Shore was 17 years old when he began hanging out at The Factory - Andy Warhol's legendary studio in Manhattan. Between 1965 and 1967, Shore spent nearly every day there, taking pictures of its diverse cast of characters, from musicians to actors, artists to writers, and including Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, and Nico - not to mention Warhol himself. This book presents a personal selection of photographs from Shore’s collection, providing...
Recommended by Blake Gopnik, and 1 others.

Blake GopnikThere are a couple things that are special about this book. One is that sense of immediacy, of a snapshot aesthetic, which was to become a hallmark of Shore’s work as one of our great photographers. (Source)

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Reprint of booklets which circulated in the gay underground of New York in 1949, along with snapshots of gay life in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. less
Recommended by Blake Gopnik, and 1 others.

Blake GopnikThere’s this beautiful balance in these Gay Guides between an excitement about the possibilities of this particular subculture in American life, and the very real risks involved in pursuing those possibilities. (Source)

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This is a new edition of the much neglected 1967 breakthrough analysis of behavior and the arts. Cultural criticism has been too obsessed with the rage for order to be able to grasp the import of Peckham's search for "some human activity, which serves to break up orientations, to weaken and frustrate the tyrannous drive to order, to prepare the individual to observe what the orientation tells him is irrelevant, but what may very well be relevant." This book is destined to force a sharp turn in critical cultural studies because it addresses the rage for chaos in traditional "high culture, "... more
Recommended by Blake Gopnik, and 1 others.

Blake GopnikOne of the wonderful things about this book is that we know Andy Warhol actually read it. His copy of this textbook still exists in the Warhol archive. This is one of the things that is surprising about Andy and that I think is extremely important to understand: Lots of people who knew him well said he was smart in a fairly traditional sense. (Source)

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The Lives of the Artists

Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Giorgio Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.

Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, and Masaccio, before discussing the mature period of perfection, dominated by the titanic figures of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

This specially commissioned translation contains thirty-six of...

Recommended by Blake Gopnik, Kenneth Bartlett, and 2 others.

Blake GopnikWith Vasari, we begin thinking that artistic biography might matter. As much as we may want to resist the notion that biography is central to understanding art, it seems as though it is just inevitable – the life of the artist is an inevitable element in considering the art itself, as Vasari realised early on. (Source)

Kenneth BartlettHe invented art history as we know it…..Much of what we know, especially about the personal lives of the artists, comes from Vasari because there are no other sources. He got it from gossip and hearsay. That is how he did much of his research: by asking people who knew them or by asking somebody whose father had worked with them. (Source)

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The Andy Warhol Diaries

„Dnevnici“ Endija Vorhola su izdati daleke 1989. godine i do danas su doživeli nebrojeno mnogo izdanja, a i objavljeni su na svim važnim svetskim jezicima. Iako je većini čitalaca prva asocijacija na Endija Vorhola njegova izjava da će u budućnosti svako imati svojih 15 minuta slave, njegovi dnevnici nam daju uvid u jednu od najbitnijih decenija u svetskoj umetnosti. U vreme kada umetnici i poznate ličnosti nisu živeli samo za 15 minuta slave. Bez obzira na činjenicu da je neprekidno živeo pod zaslepljujućim svetlima reflektora, „Dnevnici“ nam daju istinsku sliku umetnika Endija Vorhola, sa... more
Recommended by Blake Gopnik, Craig Brown, and 2 others.

Blake GopnikWe assume that Andy knew that they might be published, and he may have wanted them to be published – and so would have controlled and manipulated their content. He didn’t scribble these entries down in a notebook, for his own eyes only. So you never know if he’s speaking to posterity in order to falsify the record – or at least to construct a record – or whether the Diaries are actually giving... (Source)

Craig BrownWarhol’s diaries came out shortly after he died, and at the time I couldn’t see the point of them at all. They were just a litany of names, all social gossip, very close to being boring. But reading them 20 years on, I find them fascinating. My edition is about 800 pages long. There aren’t many diaries you could read from start to finish, but this one is luminous. (Source)

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