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Top 5 books about art

When is the Present writer Will Ashon dives into the best books about art, artists and what drives them

The Ends of Collage by Yuval Etgar (editor)

A collection of writings running from practitioners like Max Ernst and Hannah Höch right up to Sherrie Levine. It’s a collage of collages about collage, possibly?

Because She Never Asked by Enrique Vila-Matas (translated by Valerie Miles)

No contemporary artist has been fictionalised more than Sophie Calle, perhaps because her artworks appear like unwritten novels. This is the best of the bunch: short, sharp and thoroughly disorientating.

A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions by Arthur Jafa 

If it wasn’t so ridiculously huge, this would be my handbook. Filmmaker and artist Jafa interpolates images between specially commissioned and ‘found’ texts from a dizzying selection of thinkers and theorists.

Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

In the central strand of Perec’s masterpiece, former art-forger Gaspard Winckler makes fiendishly difficult jigsaws from a rich employer’s watercolours. When
the highroller has completed the puzzles they are erased, returned to their original state. But first he has to finish them…

Boggs: A Comedy of Values by Lawrence Weschler 

JSG Boggs drew banknotes, then used them to try to buy things. Although his ‘money’ was a beautiful, hand-drawn reproduction, it’s the latter part which makes them art. It sounds like the plot of a novel but Weschler talks us through real events, involving numerous arrests and criminal trials for forgery.

When is the Present, on David Hockney’s My Mother, Bolton Abbey by Will Ashon is out now (Juxta Press, £14.99)

will ashon when is the present

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