Stuart Horodner pastes together scraps of The Art Life

Somewhere along the line between an advice book for artists and a scrap book of inspirations


The Art Life, a new book by the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s artistic director Stuart Horodner, falls somewhere along the line between an advice book for artists and a scrap book of inspirations. Organized around sections like “Influence,” “Process,” “Audience,” and so forth, Horodner collects rafts of quotes from a wide swath of sources. The scope ranges from Samuel Beckett’s much quoted, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” to a riff from Anthony Bourdain on the “meritocracy” of the kitchen to excerpts of interviews conducted by Horodner.

Though it seems designed and prepared with the young artist in mind, The Art Life’s main impulse is scrap-booking, the personal documentation of inspiration. Horodner writes, “My own daily ritual of pasting choice items gathered from magazines, newspapers, and journals into black bound sketchbooks provides me with several pleasures, from the physicality of arranging things on a page and gluing them down, to the space saving satisfaction of keeping a “best of” collection in a condensed and managable size ... and the combining of like elements or the pairing of strange bedfellows to establish new relationships and unpredictable outcomes.” The book feels like this very personal “best of” collection for Horodner, even includes a few reproduced pages from his own notebooks.

Horodner writes a short introduction to each chapter, reflecting on his formative years at Cooper Union or his current duties as a curator, but the main attraction are these “strange bedfellows.” Maurizio Cattelan is followed by Dave Eggers followed by Keith Haring followed by Bettye LaVette and so forth. Occasionally while reading it, I felt the impulse to tear one of these scraps out of the book and paste it somewhere else.

A book launch for The Art Life: On Creativity and Career will be held at Octane Coffee on the Westside on Fri., March 23 at 7 pm. More details.