Burnaway > Features > BURNAWAY’s Best of 2014: Favorite Reads

BURNAWAY’s Best of 2014: Favorite Reads

Wrapping up our BURNAWAY’s Best of 2014, we asked our experts to tell us about some of their most memorable reads from the past year.

(Don’t miss our Best Exhibitions of 2014, the top Movers, Shakers & NewsmakersBest Cultural Experiences, Rocio Rodriguez’s Marfa experience, and what’s coming up in 2015!)

Assistant professor of art history at the University of New Orleans

The most fun: Christian Viveros-Fauné, “Jeff Koons Clowns around the Whitney,” Village Voice, July 2, 2014.

The most enlightening piece of art criticism: Jed Perl, “The Cult of Jeff Koons,” New York Review of Books, September 25, 2014.

Best academic: David Joselit, After Art (Princeton University Press, 2012).

Hong's Dance Dance Revolution was selected for the Barnard Women Poets Prize by Adrienne Rich in 2006.
Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution was selected for the Barnard Women Poets Prize by Adrienne Rich in 2006.


Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories was by far the best nonfiction book I read in 2014, although it came out in 2012. This is a game changer by a very young thinker.

Cathy Park Hong’s two collections of poems, Engine Empire and Dance Dance Revolution, reminded me why I started needing poems to begin with.

JIHA MOON (Atlanta, GA)

I am a regular reader of Hyperallergic, ArtsATL, and, of course, BURNAWAY.

Artist, Writer

Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography by John Gruen is an amazing tale of one of the 20th century’s most daring artists.



Various articles and essays from the New York Times, Hyperallergic, BURNAWAY, Art Papers, and Art in America.

Belgian art historian, critic, and curator, Thierry de Duve.
Belgian art historian, critic, and curator, Thierry de Duve.

Writer, curator

I really enjoyed the series of essays on the avant garde by Thierry de Duve published in Artforum. Using Duchamp’s Fountain as a jumping-off point, moving forward and back chronologically, he takes a comprehensive look at the “invention of non-art.”

I also  enjoyed Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects (not entirely art-oriented, and perhaps published in 2013, though I just read it). He has a voice that’s a pleasure to read, and has some fascinating ideas connecting ontology and ecology.


Thierry de Duve’s “This is Art: Anatomy of a Sentence” in Artforum, April 2014.

Artist, professor at Georgia State University

Art of Memory by Frances Yates.

Yates’ The Art of Memory provides a tracing of the forgotten techniques for mnemonic agility from its classical roots through the end of the Renaissance.
Yates’s The Art of Memory provides a tracing of the forgotten techniques for mnemonic agility from its classical roots through the end of the Renaissance.

MievilleORION WERTZ (Columbus, GA)
Artist, professor at Columbus State University

The City and the City by China Miéville. This novel was built on a very difficult premise: two cities exist in the same location, simultaneously, but it is a crime for citizens from one city to see or interact with the other. The spatial/temporal nature of this arrangement is always a little confusing but Miéville writes his way through it very well.  Suspense builds through the noir plot but the real tension comes from questions about perception.

The Good Life by Jay McInerney. If F. Scott Fitzgerald traveled forward in time and wrote a 9/11 novel, then it might be a lot like this book. The characters in this book were so successful that I wanted to dislike them, yet the pathos that the author established forced me to relate to them. The author doesn’t let anyone off the hook, and by the end I felt like he was commenting on the contradictions that we all live out every day.

e-flux_Hito-Steyerl_364NIKITA GALE (Atlanta, GA)

I recently read Hito Steyerl’s The Wretched of the Screen (published in 2012), specifically the first chapter, “In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective.”


For years I have been obsessed with the Documents of Contemporary Art published by Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press. They have guest editors curate essays by writers and artists surrounding a particular topic. The topics I have been stuck on this year have been “Nature,” “Beauty,” and “Failure.” I also have attempted to read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I am in love with the language, but I will not finish that one until next year’s Best of 2015.

Director, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

Reading one great new story from the South every week on The Bitter Southerner.

Abide by Jake Adam York.

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Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, featured in the September 2014 Vanity Fair.
Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, featured in the September 2014 Vanity Fair.

Architect, writer

The New Yorker (Shigeru Ban, Hans Ulrich Obrist), Vanity Fair (Goldberger on Preservation, Gehry), BURNAWAY #2: EXCHANGE (!!!), and then I just read old stuff from Krauss, Irwin, Smithson, Rilke, Proust, Koolhaas, Semper, etc.

art-is-a-problem-2LIA NEWMAN (Charlotte, NC)
Director and curator of the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College.

Currently, I’m enjoying Art is a Problem, a compilation of Joshua Decter’s writings, and rereading excerpts from a book about Regina Jose Galindo, an amazing artist, in preparation for my curatorial project featuring Galindo in Fall 2015.


 ‘Illegal’ Traveler: An Auto Ethnography of Borders by Shahram Khosravi.

In 'Illegal' Traveller, Khosravi is concerned with the issue of borders and explores what it means to be an ‘illegal’ migrant.
In ‘Illegal’ Traveller, Khosravi explores what it means to be an “illegal” migrant.

spectatorPAUL STEPHEN BENJAMIN (Atlanta, GA)

Jacques Ranciere’s The Emancipated Spectator.


Paper Monument’s first pamphlet I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette. Hilarious and spot-on, this publication includes contributions from 38 artists, critics, curators, and dealers answering all your most pressing art world questions. This little black book lays out the unspoken “laws” of the gallery world and how to behave as an artist if you really want to “make it.” Includes tongue-in-cheek advice from some of my art world faves, like Bob Nickas and Rachel Uffner.

RalphEllisonBRAD CUSHMAN (Little Rock, AR)
Artist, gallery director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

BRIAN EGAN (Atlanta, GA)
Cofounder of the Mammal Gallery


Constant Dullaart’s “Balconism” manifesto in Art Papers, March/April issue.

Writer, curator

I just finished writing an article for Creative Loafing Tampa that recommends four art-related books published in 2014: LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Notion of Family, Bruce Nauman: The True Artist by Peter Plagens, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, and 33 Artists In 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton. (The last book I don’t actually recommend, except as a kind of guilty pleasure.) If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Hustvedt’s novel. The premise is provocative: A forbiddingly smart middle-aged female artist named Harriet Burden, whose career prime appears to have come and gone without much recognition, embarks on a trio of major projects under the cover of male identities, whereupon her art at last meets with critical acclaim. What makes the book fascinating are the intense psychological portraits of various characters, especially Burden, that Hustvedt conjures up. Once I was a few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down.

LaToya Ruby Frazier, "Ruby Frazier's Momme (Floral Comforter)," Momme Portrait Series, 2008; from The Notion of Family (Aperture, 2014).
LaToya Ruby Frazier, “Ruby Frazier’s Momme (Floral Comforter),” Momme Portrait Series, 2008; from The Notion of Family (Aperture, 2014).


Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick blew my mind and broke my heart.

Jim-Morrison-The-Lords-And-The-378064ERIC MACK (Atlanta, GA)

Jim Morrison’s The Lords and the New Creatures provides an enlightening, yet sometimes dark look into mental realm of “The Lizard King.” Morrison shares vivid, illustrative, and rare literary glimpses in this easy 141 page read. The writings are sometimes dark, often melancholic, and most always mysterious. Cryptic and poignant, this mix of riddle and rhyme stayed with me long after completion of the book. I was forced to excavate in order that I could understand his universal views of human and social conditions.

“It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The file runs on without any eyes. The spectator can not exist without it. It ensures his existence.” —Jim Morrison

JOE NOLAN (Nashville, TN)
Artist, writer

My favorite book of the year was David Lynch: The Factory Photographs by Petra Giloy-Hirtz.

From David Lynch's The Factory Photographs (Prestel, 2014).
From David Lynch’s The Factory Photographs (Prestel, 2014).


Artist, Cofounder of the LOW Museum

Social Media Anxieties by Liz Kinnamon.

MICHI MEKO (Atlanta, GA)

Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy by Robert Farris Thompson.

Jerry Saltz’s Twitter feed.

Anything I can find about Britain’s BLK Art Group.

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