Staff Picks: What Art Enthusiasts Can Read, Watch, and Listen to While at Home (Part 2)

April 27, 2020
A mobile phone sitting atop a spiral-bound notebook shows the Harvard Art Museums Instagram account. A stack of magazines is to the left; some U.S. coins are scattered to the right. Leaves from a plant appear out of focus at top right.

Despite museums being closed worldwide, the conversations around art never stop, and there are many great art-related books, podcasts, and movies out there. We asked members of our team to recommend their favorites. For even more Staff Picks, check out the first installment in this series.

A movie poster shows a silhouette of a male figure climbing through treetops against a gray sky. The words “Leaning into the Wind” and “Andy Goldsworthy” appear above and to the left of the figure.

WATCH

Leaning into the Wind

Chosen by: Katherine McGaughey, Collections Assistant, Collections Management

What it’s about: Leaning into the Wind is the sequel to River and Tides, both of which are wonderful documentaries on the life and work of sculptor and land artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Why it’s recommended: I love how deeply this film goes into showcasing how Goldsworthy responds to the world as an artist. His humility and playfulness in the face of temporality and change, in his art and his own life, is something I think anyone can relate to. Since the passage of time ultimately erases most of his landscape sculptures from existence, it is also an interesting and rare look at an artist more concerned with process than in leaving anything behind.

A slipcase for a two-volume set of books shows the bust of a creepy horror movie creature with wrinkled skin and large teeth. The words “Rick Baker: Metamorphosis” runs down the spines of both books.

READ

Rick Baker: Metamorphosis by J. W. Rinzler

Chosen by: Ansis Purins, Mailroom Clerk

What it’s about: A massive two-volume photo collection featuring Academy Award–winning artist Rick Baker’s behind-the-scenes work as a special effects makeup artist for Hollywood movies.

Why it’s recommended: Seeing a computer-generated werewolf makes me sad, so I appreciate the time and effort that goes into any handcrafted practical effects. It’s bittersweet that many of these makeups appear only as a quick blur on-screen. To be able to see this beautiful work up close, without pressing pause, is a real treat.

A movie poster shows the word “Yarn” in the middle of a knitted design in a yellow circle, whose border is a pattern of red and blue. Rays emanate from the border in orange and pink. Toward the bottom, three blue sheep appear within the rays.

WATCH

Yarn

Chosen by: Marsy Sumner, Financial Operations Manager           

What it’s about: A documentary about artists redefining knitting and crochet as an art form.

Why it’s recommended: The film offers a fresh look at what are usually considered traditional and stuffy crafts. Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s works are my favorite, especially her colorful climbing structures built out of knitted cord.

A blue book cover shows a graphic of 11 side-by-side tall rectangles with a rainbow swath of colors inside them. The words “Leaving Saturn” appears above, and “Poems by Major Jackson” appears below.

READ

Leaving Saturn by Major Jackson 

Chosen by: Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Division of Modern and Contemporary Art

What it’s about: One of Jackson’s early collections of poetry in which he reflects on growing up in Philadelphia.

Why it’s recommended: Spending so much time at home has inspired me to think about how places shape us. After I read Jackson, I enjoy reading and cooking from the Spring section of the Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972). Lewis (1916–2006), a James Beard Award–winning chef, led the revival of Southern cooking. I love her vivid writing.

A poster shows a man and woman, back-to-back, standing in front of a painting. The man has crossed arms and a serious gaze. The woman looks over her shoulder, smiling. The words “L’Art du Crime” and “Elle a L’Art, Il a La Manière” appear at the bottom.

WATCH

L’Art du Crime (The Art of Crime)

Chosen by: Elizabeth M. Rudy, Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Associate Curator of Prints, Division of European and American Art

What it’s about: French murder-mystery television show starring an unlikely pair: a hard-nosed detective and a European paintings curator at the Louvre. Together, they solve murders in and around contemporary Paris.

Why it’s recommended: If you love art, French culture, and murder mysteries, this is the perfect combination! Many scenes take place in the beautiful French countryside, and several take place in the Louvre’s galleries and conservation lab. It is a light-hearted, fun show to get lost in . . . and binge!

A pink square graphic shows the words “The Print Cast” in white text, silhouetted multiple times in shades of blue.

LISTEN

The Print Cast

Chosen by: Christina Taylor, Assistant Paper Conservator, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

What it’s about: Podcast that interviews practicing printmakers and printers.

Why it’s recommended: I’m a print geek, and this podcast gives a glimpse into the awesome printmaking community around the world. The interviews are fun and offer many anecdotes and tips!

A white book cover with red binding shows an illustration in black ink of three figures playing harmonicas. The words “Ounce Dice Trice” appears in black text with “By Alastair Reid” and “Drawings by Ben Shahn” toward the bottom.

READ

Ounce Dice Trice by Alastair Reid, illustrated by Ben Shahn

Chosen by: Michelle Interrante, Assistant Archivist

What it’s about: An inspiring book to make you smile, illustrated with humor and tenderness by Ben Shahn.

Why it’s recommended: This book is a reminder to everyone that English sounds are textured, funny, and weird. “Words for Times of Day (to be used where there are no clocks)” introduces words that find new meaning when our routines are disrupted. If you’re working from home, you may be hearing more “phloophs” or the sound of “sitting suddenly on a cushion” than usual. Read it aloud whether you have an audience or not.

A black square graphic with the words “Last Seen” written out in letters of differing fonts. Each letter is within a white square. The words “wbur” and “The Boston Globe” appear above.

LISTEN

Last Seen

Chosen by: Jen Thum, Inga Maren Otto Curatorial Fellow, Division of Academic and Public Programs

What it’s about: As the team behind this podcast tells it, “Last Seen is a true-crime podcast about the most valuable—and confounding—art heist in history: the theft of 13 irreplaceable artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.”

Why it’s recommended: I love podcasts, and I especially love true crime. I find this one fabulous for three reasons: it’s local to the Boston area; it’s narrated beautifully and easy to listen to; and it’s presented by a team of seasoned journalists who look critically at the evidence without jumping to conclusions. You’ll meet lots of interesting characters, and there is a ton of extra information to delve into on the podcast’s website!

A poster shows a farm with a red chicken coop with a tin roof. Chickens, a dog, and other animals are in the field, along with a couple, each holding a white bucket, with their backs to viewers. The words “the Biggest little Farm” appears above against a

WATCH

The Biggest Little Farm

Chosen by: Mary Kocol, Fine Arts Photographer, Digital Imaging and Visual Resources

What it’s about: A couple in California turns a desolate farm into a thriving organic biodynamic farm (now Apricot Lane Farms).

Why it’s recommended: It’s a hopeful and honest movie that reveals how barren land is brought back into balance and harmony over time. The Biggest Little Farm is beautifully filmed and fascinating to watch (one of the farmers is a cinematographer). Apricot Lane Farms is on Instagram and features weekly live videos about farm and kitchen happenings.