Too bad this sort of reduction cannot be achieved with books.

The mode for labeling a visual artist’s work, when exhibited, has always appealed to me. How the artist’s name and the title of the piece are followed by the medium. 

• Oil on canvas 
• Tape and acrylic on panel 
• Plywood, forged iron, plaster, latex paint, twine 
• Wood, beeswax, leather, fabric, and human hair 
• Living artist, glass, steel, mattress, pillow, linen, water, and spectacles 
• Fat, felt, and cardboard box in metal and glass display case 
• Bronze 
• Metal and plastic 
• Hand-spun wool 
• Fabric collage 
• Carrara marble and teakwood base 
• Red pigment and varnish on paper 
• Video, black-and-white, sound 
• Dyed cotton, grommets, rope, and thread, in two parts 

I find the plainness and economizing record of materials handled calming. Realistic yet not austere, because what corresponds— the words oil on canvas— has everything and nothing to do with what I’m looking at. The disconnect wakes me up. The words plywood, plaster, and twine are deadpan and even grim. Bronze is bodily and somehow lewd. Characterizing a video installation as having “sound” seems like, for whatever reason, a breakthrough. That a glass display case or teakwood base is principle to the piece feels hospitable. “Fabric collage” is pseudonymous. 

Too bad this sort of reduction cannot be achieved with books. Tables of contents don’t even come close. Indexes, maybe. 

~ Durga Chew-Bose, from “Heart Museum” in Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2017)

Red Yellow Blue II, 1974
Oil and beeswax on fabric
73 ¼ x 72 ½ inches (186.1 x 184.2 cm)

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Barry Lowen Collection