Many artists, writers, and other creative people do their best work when collaborating within a circle of likeminded friends. Experimenting together and challenging one another, they develop the courage to rebel against the established traditions in their field. Out of their discussions they develop a new, shared vision that guides their work even when they work alone.
In a unique study that will become a rich source of ideas for professionals and anyone interested in fostering creative work in the arts and sciences, Michael P. Farrell looks at the group dynamics in six collaborative circles: the French Impressionists; Sigmund Freud and his friends; C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings; social reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; the Fugitive poets; and the writers Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddox Ford. He demonstrates how the unusual interactions in these collaborative circles drew out the creativity in each member. Farrell also presents vivid narrative accounts of the roles played by the members of each circle. He considers how working in such circles sustains the motivation of each member to do creative work; how collaborative circles shape the individual styles of the persons within them; how leadership roles and interpersonal relationships change as circles develop; and why some circles flourish while others flounder.
Though photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams were contemporaries and longtime friends, most of their work portrays contrasting subject matter. Lange’s artistic photodocumentation set a new aesthetic standard for social commentary; Adams lit up nature’s wonders with an unfailing eye and preeminent technical skill. That they joined together to photograph Mormons in Utah in the early 1950s for Life magazine may come as a surprise.
In a Rugged Land examines the history and content of the two photographers’ forgotten collaboration Three Mormon Towns. Looking at Adams’s and Lange’s photographs, extant letters, and personal memories, the book provides a window into an important moment in their careers and seeks to understand why a project that once held such promise ended in disillusionment and is now little more than a footnote in their illustrative biographies. Swensen’s in-depth research and interpretation help make sense of what they did and place them alongside others who were also exploring the particular qualities of the Mormon village at that time.
Winner of the Joan Paterson Kerr Book Award for best illustrated book on the history of the American West from the Western History Association.
Winner of the Best Book Award from the Utah State Historical Society.
Winner of the 15 Bytes Book Award for Art Book.
Honorable mention for Best Book from the Mormon History Association.
Kartoon Kings is the first monographic and comprehensive analysis of the graphic artwork of Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio. This work showcases a collection of full-color images excerpted from comic book projects, videos, billboards, and more of the artists’ collaborative public contributions created over the past fifteen years. To supplement the images an interview with the artists by Kristina Olson is included, along with essays by Joshua Decter and Paul Krainak. Grennan and Sperandio work together by conspiring about their creative ideas on the Internet. Their teamwork must be done this way because Grennan lives in England, while Sperandio lives in the United States.
Collaborative and collective art practices have proliferated around the world over the past fifteen years. In The One and the Many, Grant H. Kester provides an overview of the broader continuum of collaborative art, ranging from the work of artists and groups widely celebrated in the mainstream art world, such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Superflex, Francis Alÿs, and Santiago Sierra, to the less-publicized projects of groups, such as Park Fiction in Hamburg, Networking and Initiatives for Culture and the Arts in Myanmar, Ala Plastica in Argentina, Huit Facettes in Senegal, and Dialogue in central India. The work of these groups often overlaps with the activities of NGOs, activists, and urban planners. Kester argues that these parallels are symptomatic of an important transition in contemporary art practice, as conventional notions of aesthetic autonomy are being redefined and renegotiated. He describes a shift from a concept of art as something envisioned beforehand by the artist and placed before the viewer, to the concept of art as a process of reciprocal creative labor. The One and the Many presents a critical framework that addresses the new forms of agency and identity mobilized by the process of collaborative production.
It’s no secret that working with others, rather than alone, on a creative project can often yield the most unexpected results, a new and surprising sum greater than the whole of its parts. Please RSVP presents a bold new theory of just how powerful collaboration can be in the making of art. April Durham argues that collaborative activity has the potential to broaden and expand an individual participant’s static identity through what she calls “trans-subjectivity.” She offers a fine-grained analysis of the ways in which personal subjectivity becomes porous and malleable during the process of shared creative labor. Durham’s concept of the trans-subjective offers a new way to come to terms with the networks, either digital or otherwise, that have developed over the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, providing a bold new frame for topics like the experience of time, community, language, and ethics. This is a crucial and eye-opening book for contemporary artists and art historians alike.