As the epidemy containment measures untighten, galleries slowly reopen their doors, yet life is still far from the ‘old’ normal. What has (and still does) helped many of us in getting through the lockdown was a rediscovery of e-book libraries. When several bookstores had to switch to delivery service only, the epidemy has prompted museum book rooms and digital libraries to widen the access to connect with readers locked down at home. Whether it’s new inspiration what you’re looking for, or a way to colour up the dull hours, these titles taken off the paywall or newly digitised and reasonably priced cannot but prove the rightest choice. So why not top your weekly dose of art reads up with our list of art e-books and catalogues collections (of course, in the break from checking Contemporary Lynx’s new issue out)?
Guggenheim on Internet Archive
Late 20th century reigns supreme in the rich choice of 205 digitised books to be read online for free with Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Internet Archive Library profile. What’s hidden behind the jazzy mosaic of covers is a selection of monographs and exhibition catalogues which will give you a historical perspective on today’s practices and inspiration from not-so-long-ago contemporaries, highlighting constructivism, pop art, and early conceptual projects.
The colossal athenaeum documents the visual arts since 1965 with a particular focus paid to the practices of its home state of Quebec. While offering more than 13 500 exhibition catalogues, 1000 artists’ books and 500 periodicals on-site, not including documentation, a significant part has been moved to Artexte’s digital repository. To access the digitised publications, you need to follow the instructions on the main site and search for the open access records in Artexte’s online bibliography.
The Netflix for books offers a free 30-day trial for any new subscribers. Although the e-book service is not art-oriented – while browsing through the catalogue, you need to scramble through piles of pop literature, non-fiction and lifestyle digests – careful inspection will let you discover several art books and catalogues, in major part downloadable from the ‘files’ section, several podcasts recorded by museums and galleries, and lesser-known publications.
MuseBooks’ app offers an alternative to traditional (sic) e-books, designed specially for art lovers. You can zoom in the numerous publications from the huge database, able to examine the artworks in better detail unavailable in other formats. MuseBook’s content providers include MoMA, Tate, National Palace Museum Taiwan, and numerous art publishers. The only drawback is the pricing level – payments are taken per book accessed. MuseBooks is slowly expanding the share of its catalogue dedicated to contemporary art.
Art Canada Institute
Another Canadian resource on the list – founded in 2013, the Canadian Online Art Book Project is a growing digital library of publications on the biggest names from the country’s modern and contemporary art scene. Each year, six new titles are released. All are written by the nation’s leading art experts commissioned by the Art Canada Institute.
The number one academic scholarship provider and journal store opens some of its archives to the public during the epidemy time. What’s more, the major part of its already abundant free-access collection will remain open later on. Includes few art books and catalogues, yet can serve as a brilliant source for latest scholarship and theorising.
Although The Met focuses not on the contemporaries, the more than fairly impressive catalogue cannot go without mention. More than 1 700 exhibition catalogues, art books, and documentation can be downloaded from MetPublications’ website for free.
All the 7 websites has helped many to get through the lockdown time with their abundant catalogues; yet if you’re looking for new reads on what’s going on in the contemporary art world, you can’t get any closer – just click the banner on our homepage to follow a link to Contemporary Lynx’s new issue now accessible online.
Compiled by Franciszek Bryk