Having a job as Senior Library Assistant at the Museum of Modern Art Library has been a big influence on my artistic practice. I use the library for research and inspiration, and as a site of investigation. In early 2010, I began the performance "Smelling the Books", which consists of me smelling every book in the MoMA Library collection.
"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Mark Twain (c.1910)
Dogs have held a special place in the lives of humankind for centuries. How long has Fido been man’s best friend? Surely before Mark Twain’s time (quoted above)! The art historical record is no exception and rich with canine imagery, as evidenced in the 2008 publication The Dog: 5,000 Years of the Dog in Art by Tamsin Pickeral available to all dog lovers at the Frick Art Reference Library. According to the detailed timeline located in the back of the book, the earliest evidence of the domestic dog was found in Germany and dates from 14,000 years ago. Since then, they have been depicted in the fine and decorative arts in a variety of ways. The author provides readers with splendidly illustrated, thematic chapters such as “The Romantic Dog” and “The Mythical Dog” to begin or further their knowledge of this animal in art.
Working in a library, it is amazing how consistently one is asked, “Which is your favorite book?” I generally stutter and give a muddled reply about how I like the idea of an accumulation of books, or something along those lines. If really pressed, I have recently started mentioning that I like books about books. In my case, given the nature of MoMA library’s collection, our books about books generally focus on the small and merry niche of modern and contemporary art publications and publications by artists.