Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Hans-Ulrich Obrist’s reading during lockdown

Hans-Ulrich Obrist © Photo: Brigitte Lacombe.

Gareth Harris, What is the curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist reading during lockdown?, The Art Newspaper, 4 May 2020

The artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries has been inspired by his daily walks and ‘animal interviews’ to revisit one of his favourite books about trees.

Jennifer Packer: Tenderheaded (2018) by Solveig Øvstebø and Jennifer Packer

“A great publication that, among other texts, includes a conversation with Jennifer [Packer] and Kerry James Marshall. The book includes reproductions of Packers’ extraordinary portraits, interior scenes and also some of her flower still lifes. Packer is one of the great painters of our time and I can’t stop looking at this book. The paintings are about the complexity of our relationships. In Jennifer’s own words: ‘I think about images that resist, that attempt to retain their secrets or maintain their composure, that put you to work.’ This book is a source and an inspiration as we are working on a show of Jennifer for the Serpentine for autumn.”

The Architecture of Trees Hardcover (2019) by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi

“During the lockdown I go on a walk every day in Kensington Gardens. I started a series with animal interviews asking them about their unrealised projects and became aware how true Etel Adnan’s sentence is: that a day without seeing a tree is a wasted day. Or in Etel’s own words ‘The tree came back to life, stopped crying’. At home I often look at Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi’s The Architecture of Trees; [it is] one of my favourite books. This book, which was first published in 1982, includes 400 magical drawings of 211 tree species drawn in 1 to 100 [scale] and includes tables of seasonal variations of the colours. It took the authors 20 years to accomplish this magnum opus and it was out of print for many years until Cartier translated it into English for the first time this year.”

Koo Jeong A: ajeongkoo (2017) by Edouard Glissant et al. and Koo Jeong A: R (2006) by Koo Jeong A

“Almost like a ritual I look every morning at my partner Koo Jeong A’s magical drawing book R, which was published by Swiss Re in 2006 [and] includes 1001 intricate one line pen drawings. It’s like an enigmatic diary of wandering souls. It’s an infinite book and one can every day discover new things in a very non-linear way. The book is long out of print but recently Heni published a new artist book of Koo Jeong A called Nomos Alpha that features a selection of R printed on very thin paper.”

Felix Feneon: Aesthete and Anarchist in Fin-De-Siecle Paris (1988) by Joan Ungersma Halperin

Künstlerhaus Stuttgart 1978-2018 (2018) edited by Hannelore Paflik-Huber with contribution by Liam Gillick

Claudia Andujar: The Yanomami Struggle (2020) by Claudia Andujar et al.

Cahiers d’Art: Arthur Jafa (2018) edited by Staffan Ahrenberg et al.

Judy Chicago: New Views (2019) by Judi Chicago et al.

Gerhard Richter: Das Denken ist Beim malen Das malen (2019) by Armin Zweite

Conversations with Darius Khondji (2018) by Jordan Mintzer

Cerith Wyn Evans. “….the Illuminating Gas” (2019) by Éric Alliez et al.


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