EKPHRASIS: A Monthly Book Club About Art
War and Turpentine: A Novel by Stefan Hertmans
July 19, 2017, Noon (Open Meeting)
Led by Alice Novak
“The life of Urbain Martien—artist, soldier, survivor of World War I—lies contained in two notebooks he left behind when he died in 1981. In War and Turpentine, his grandson, a writer, retells his grandfather’s story, the notebooks providing a key to the locked chambers of Urbain’s memory.
With vivid detail, the grandson recounts a whole life: Urbain as the child of a lowly church painter, retouching his father’s work;dodging death in a foundry; fighting in the war that altered the course of history; marrying the sister of the woman he truly loved; being haunted by an ever-present reminder of the artist he had hoped to be and the soldier he was forced to become.”
Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek,
and the Reinvention of Seeing by Laura Snyder
August 9, 2017, Noon
Led by Alice Novak
On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek―a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher―gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld . . .In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing.
Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection by John Anderson
September 13, 2017, Noon
Led by Jennifer Jankauskas
This is the story of how a fabled art foundation―the greatest collection of impressionist and postimpressionist art in America, including 69 Cézannes, 60 Matisses, and 44 Picassos, among many priceless others―came to be, and how more than a decade of legal squabbling brought it to the brink of collapse and to a move that many believe betrayed the wishes of the founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872―1951). Art Held Hostage is now updated with a new epilogue by the author covering the current state of this international treasure and the endless battle over its fate.
Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keefe by Dawn Tripp
October 11, 2017, Noon
Led by Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
In 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O’Keeffe’s work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their connection is instantaneous. O’Keeffe is quickly drawn into Stieglitz’s sophisticated world, becoming his mistress, protégé, and muse, as their attraction deepens into an intense and tempestuous relationship and his photographs of her, both clothed and nude, create a sensation.
Yet as her own creative force develops, Georgia begins to push back against what critics and others are saying about her and her art. And soon she must make difficult choices to live a life she believes in.
A breathtaking work of the imagination, Georgia is the story of a passionate young woman, her search for love and artistic freedom, the sacrifices she will face, and the bold vision that will make her a legend.
Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and
Reformation Priests Created Our World by Thomas Cahill
November 8, 2017, Noon
Led by Education Staff
In Volume VI of his acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill guides us through the thrilling period of the Renaissance and the Reformation (the late fourteenth to the early seventeenth century), so full of innovation and cultural change that the Western world would not experience its like again until the twentieth century. Beginning with the continent-wide disaster of the Black Death, Cahill traces the many developments in European thought and experience that served both the new humanism of the Renaissance and the seemingly abrupt religious alterations of the increasingly radical Reformation. This is an age of the most sublime artistic and scientific adventure, but also of newly powerful princes and armies and of newly found courage, as many thousands refuse to bow their heads to the religious pieties of the past. It is an era of just-discovered continents and previously unknown peoples. More than anything, it is a time of individuality in which a whole culture must achieve a new balance if the West is to continue.
The Great Wave: Gilded Ages Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan by Christopher Benfey
January 10, 2018, Noon
Led by Sarah Graves
When the United States entered the Gilded Age after the Civil War, argues cultural historian Christopher Benfey, the nation lost its philosophical moorings and looked eastward to “Old Japan,” with its seemingly untouched indigenous culture, for balance and perspective. Japan, meanwhile, was trying to reinvent itself as a more cosmopolitan, modern state, ultimately transforming itself, in the course of twenty-five years, from a feudal backwater to an international power. This great wave of historical and cultural reciprocity between the two young nations, which intensified during the late 1800s, brought with it some larger-than-life personalities, as the lure of unknown foreign cultures prompted pilgrimages back and forth across the Pacific.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and the Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
February 14, 2018, Noon
Led by Alice Novak and Jim Barganier
Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller In the Garden of Beasts—intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.
Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land
of the Pharaohs by Bob Brier
March 14, 2018, Noon
Led by Michael Panhorst
The world has always been fascinated with ancient Egypt. When the Romans conquered Egypt, it was really Egypt that conquered the Romans. Cleopatra captivated both Caesar and Marc Antony and soon Roman ladies were worshipping Isis and wearing vials of Nile water around their necks. What is it about ancient Egypt that breeds such obsession and imitation? Egyptomania explores the burning fascination with all things Egyptian and the events that fanned the flames–from ancient times, to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb by Howard Carter in the 1920s. For forty years, Bob Brier, one of the world’s foremost Egyptologists, has been amassing one of the largest collections of Egyptian memorabilia and seeking to understand the pull of Ancient Egypt on our world today.
The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller’s Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece by Laura Cumming
April 11, 2018, Noon
Led by Kaci Norman
“As compelling and entertaining as a detective novel” (The Economist), the incredible true story—part art history and part mystery—of a Velázquez portrait that went missing and the obsessed nineteenth-century bookseller determined to prove he had found it.
When John Snare, a nineteenth century provincial bookseller, traveled to a liquidation auction, he found a vivid portrait of King Charles I that defied any explanation. The Charles of the painting was young—too young to be king—and yet also too young to be painted by the Flemish painter to whom the piece was attributed. Snare had found something incredible—but what?
Sargent’s Daughters: The Biography of a Painting by Erica E. Hirshler
May 9, 2018, Noon
Led by Laura Bocquin
One of the most celebrated painters of his day, John Singer Sargent defines for many the style, optimism and opulence of turn-of-the-century America. Among his renowned portraits, “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” stands alongside “Madame X” and “Lady Agnew of Lochnaw” as one of Sargent’s immortal images. This painting depicts four young sisters in the spacious foyer of the family’s Paris apartment, strangely dispersed across the murky tones and depths of the square canvas, as though unrelated to one another, unsettled and unsettling to the eye. “The Daughters” both affirms and defies convention, flouting the boundaries between portrait and genre scene, formal composition and quick sketch or snapshot.