AGH Reads is a monthly bookclub dedicated to topics intersecting with art, artists, and broader cultural topics.
This month, we’re reading Talking to a Portrait: Tales of an Art Curator by Rosalind M. Pepall.
This book is a collection of stories about art works–whether an oil portrait, a wilderness explorer’s sketchbook or a Tiffany lamp – and how the author fell under their spell. Few people are aware of the work, the emotion, and the obsessions of a curator’s job. Exhibitions come and go; they are forgotten after a few years, but they live on in the curator’s memory.
In these fifteen essays, we encounter artists falling in and out of love, family tragedies, the creation of the Stanley Cup, the secrets of Tiffany, Antiques Roadshow, a rootless baroness, the design craze for aluminum, small Japanese boxes called kogos, watercolour sketchbooks of the Canadian north, a beautiful prayer room in Montreal, gondolas flying through windows in Venice, and Moscovites who love Goldfinger.
Pepall’s stories sparkle with clarity and leave one with a sense that art is an amazing, worthwhile, occasionally mysterious human activity. Archival black and white photographs and colour plates—including Edwin Holgate’s Ludivine, one of the most beloved and recognizable Canadian portraits ever painted—make this book a must-have for art lovers, students, academics, museum-goers and readers interested in the role art plays in the creation of our lives.
Retrieve your copy here:
Meetings occur the last Thursday of the month, currently through Zoom until circumstances allow for a comfortable gathering in the gallery.
From the International Art Collection
The Painter in his Studio 1907
Walter Richard Sickert (British 1860-1942)
oil on canvas, Gift of the Women's Committee, 1974