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In response to COVID-19 and heightened social distancing, David Zwirner is expanding its David Zwirner Books (DZB) online text offerings, as well as hosting new podcasts. So far, the publishing division of the gallery has launched an online edition of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Painter—a paperback volume from DZB’s “ekphrasis” series—and pages from by Jarrett Earnest‘s What It Means to Write About Art: Interviews with Art Critics, featuring conversations with Siri Hustvedt, Darby English, and Holland Cotter. For the first time, readers can view these online.
Additionally, “Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast” has a new schedule. The latest conversations have been between Helen Molesworth, Kahlil Davis, and Karon Davis on Noah Davis, and between artists Mamma Andersson and Jockum Nordström, while upcoming ones include: artist R. Crumb talking with cartoonist Art Spiegelman; cultural critic Kyle Chayka discussing Donald Judd and the complex legacy of minimalism; and artists Diana Thater and Rachel Rose in conversation.
These offerings, while more connect creation-based, are in line with the gallery’s recent digital focus—like “Platform: New York,” the gallery’s online viewing room that features 12 New York-based galleries (47 Canal, Bridget Donahue, Bureau, Company, David Lewis, Elijah Wheat Showroom, Essex Street, James Fuentes, JTT, Magenta Plains, Ramiken, and Queer Thoughts), on view through May 1.
Whitewall spoke with Lucas Zwirner, Head of Content at David Zwirner Books, to hear more about his personal favorite picks from the upcoming releases, and how he’s staying inspired amid the pandemic.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about the latest books added to DZB’s roster, and which you’re excited about. The gallery also recently launched a series of podcasts. Can you tell us some of your personal highlights or what you’re looking forward to listening to?
LUCAS ZWIRNER: We’ve got a few books on the docket that I’m particularly excited about—we’re working on a big Noah Davis catalogue (with gold-leaf edging!) to commemorate the exhibition Helen Molesworth curated for us (January 16-February 22, 2020), which was slated to go to the Underground Museum this spring but, like everything right now, has been delayed due to the health crisis.
It’s been a real honor to collaborate with the Underground Museum and the people who knew Noah so well, and we have a very powerful Noah Davis-related podcast, featuring Helen, Karon Davis, and Kahlil Joseph, that we released through our “Dialogues” series last Wednesday. Hopefully that will tide people over until the show opens in L.A.
We also have some very special “ekphrasis” titles coming up—including a book on Balthus by one my all-time favorite writers, Guy Davenport. I actually wrote about this book for the Paris Review last week, since it’s delayed, too.
WW: Any releases you’re unveiling soon that you’re excited about?
LZ: In a few weeks we’ll be releasing a teaser of another forthcoming “ekphrasis” title (by the great poet and writer Cynthia Zarin), which is a reminiscence about art and love in two Italian cities—Venice and Rome. Cynthia has agreed to read some of that book and record a special bonus episode of “Dialogues,” in addition to releasing excerpts through our website—all of which is very exciting.
Marcel Dzama is doing the next iteration in the “Shakespeare” series we launched last year (with Chris Ofili illustrating Othello). Marcel will be illustrating Midsummer Night’s Dream.
WW: Where are you finding inspiration?
LZ: A bit boring, perhaps, but reading—as usual. I always find my best ideas and inspiration in books. I’m working on a longer piece for the New York Review of Books, so I’ve been back in the world of aesthetic philosophy (Richard Wollheim, Roger Scruton, Clement Greenberg and Arthur Schopenhauer). But I’ve found the most inspiration recently in a groundbreaking new book by art historian Christoper Wood called A History of Art History.
WW: What’s it about?
LZ: It’s a history of relativism in art—how shifting and competing value systems have been formed both by and in response to the art of different periods, and how historians have responded. It’s extremely well-researched and in many ways revelatory—a book about the construction of meaning in art through the ages.