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This article is taken from PN Review 255, Volume 47 Number 1, September - October 2020.

Sides Unseen
The David Zwirner Books Ekphrasis Series
Jena Schmitt
A friend first pointed out Rilke’s Letters to a Young Painter at a bookshop in Toronto. Months later – after seeing a statue of St. Catherine of Alexandria stepping on the head of Emperor Maxentius – a table with birds’ feet by Meret Oppenheim – Rachel Krobone’s 399 Days, with its orgiastic tangle of limbs that references Ovid, Dante, Michelangelo and Bernini – a clever floral bouquet made of glinting petal-like profusions of silverware (Ann Carrington, 2016) – and the vast expanse of the Ardabil Carpet – on a Friday evening at the V&A, I happened upon South Kensington Books, where, along with the Rilke, there was Marcel Proust’s Chardin and Rembrant, Vernon Lee’s The Psychology of an Art Writer, and John Ruskin’s Giotto and His Works in Padua. (You must bear with me, I live in a small town where the only bookshop is in a strip mall with every second or third store boarded up and for lease. To occasionally find myself in a place where I might walk freely into a shop with an abundance of books or a space brimming with art still fills me with excitement.)

Rilke and Proust, Lee and Ruskin are part of the David Zwirner Books ekphrasis series, which includes unpublished, out-of-print and new writing about art, both serious and playful (from Degas and his Model and On Contemporary Art to Pissing Figures: 1280–2014 and Thrust: A Spasmodic Pictorial History of the Codpiece in Art), an assortment of slim volumes designed to slip easily into a tote or pocket and carry along anywhere, with covers as mesmerizing ...


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