This is mainly a sampling of academic publications—articles, catalogue entries, book reviews—and curatorial writings including wall texts, exhibition proposals and justifications for acquisition. I’ve added a tiny sampling of recent web-based writings on subjects including museum studies, road safety and urbanism.
In my capacity as Vice President for Private Universities and Colleges of the California Conference of the American Association of University Professors (2003-2005) I played a leading role in a successful nationwide campaign to counter the mandating of conservative values in university classrooms. The so-called Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR)—vigorously promoted by several right-wing think tanks—was a thinly-veiled attack on the professionalism of academic workers, and an attempt to discredit policy critiques authored by academics. Some of the key documents in that debate, which originated as blog posts on the California AAUP website, have been collected in Stephen H. Aby, (ed.), “The Graham Larkin-David Horowitz Debate,” in The Academic Bill of Rights Debate: A Handbook (Westport, CT: Praeger Press, 2007), pp. 67-90. Content from the CA-AAUP site has disappeared, but you can read my essay “What’s not to like about the Academic Bill of Rights” here; you can watch my PBS TV conversation with ABOR author David Horowitz; and you can read here about my debate with then-California State Senator (R) Bill Morrow.
RIP Aaron Swartz. This is my first ever personal blog entry, written the day I discovered that a freedom activist who I befriended in my AAUP days, ended his own life after being hounded by the US Department of Justice for his efforts to make scholarly journal articles available for free. Reflecting on this fiasco I note that “I’m not sure what’s next, but under the circumstances being quietly bereft and outraged doesn’t feel like an adequate response.” Inspired by his example, I’ve been an active and vocal advocate for freedom and equity ever since.
“Things Fall Apart: Graham Larkin on The Object in Transition,” ArtForum International vol. 46, no. 8 (April 2008), pp. 153-6, 390. Review of a Getty conference on the preservation of recent art in which I note that “”given the abundance of Duchampian and Dadaist modes of artistic production in the past half century, the material traces of much ontologically challenging art have been piling up in museums, with the result that philosophical questions about where art begins and ends are no longer merely academic. Good luck trying to acquire, store, or present vintage performance art, environmental art, Conceptual art, or appropriation art while maintaining a clear distinction between art and context, art and life, art and artifact, art and interpretation, high and low, original and copy, or completion and incompletion.” The ArtForum editors vetoed my original title (Whither the Object?) that more accurately signalled the move away from materialistic conceptions of art.
“Reconstructing Stella: Investigating the Materials and Context of Louis XIII and Richelieu,” Harvard University Art Museums Review, vol 7 no 2, Fall 1998, pp. 1, 5. A preliminary description of my work with conservators in using various technologies—including X-ray, IR and Photoshop—to reconstitute the original state of a 17thC canvas. It’s a plea for “expository imaging” that reflects my burgeoning interest in data visualization.
Catalogue entry on Daniel Rabel in Drawing Attention: Selected Works on Paper from the Renaissance to Modernism, ed. Katharine Lochnan, Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2008.
Catalogue entry on the Ballet de la Délivrance de Renaud (1617) in Sue Welsh Reed, French Prints from the Age of the Musketeers (Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1998), pp. 84-86.
Serious Play: Daniel Rabel’s Classical and Burlesque Costume Designs for the Court Ballet of Louis XIII. MA diss., Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 1993. Advisor: J. Douglas Stewart.
“On the Advantages of Nietzsche for Garden History,” Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, vol. 20, no. 1 (2000), pp. 1-5. This is a somewhat whimsical effort to inject some methodological self-awareness into the field of 17thC garden history. In contrast to the the dry archivalism of much garden history I present Thierry Mariage as what Nietzsche would call a critical historian and Vincent Scully as a monumental historian.
Translation of Thierry Mariage, The World of André Le Nôtre (originally L’Univers de Le Nostre, 1990). University of Pennsylvania Press; hardcover 1999, paperback 2010. Includes supplemental glossary and index. This is a book I discovered in Mirka Beneš’ class on early modern gardens, and decided to translate for the benefit of non-Francophone students.
Graphic & Media Design
Here’s my annotated Bibliography of Multimodal Design (i.e. studies on works layering and integrating text, image and data) assembled for my Adventures in Multimodal Design class at Carleton University in January 2013. For textbooks we used books by the inimitable Edward Tufte, including Beautiful Evidence which I helped research and edit.
Shortly after co-founding Small Museums Canada I became enamoured of Franklin Vagnone and Deborah Ryan’s book Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2016). You can read my review of the book here, and listen to my interview with the authors here. Their experimental approach to visitor engagement approach is very close to tactical urbanism.
My first work of music criticism since a review of Bongo Fury in high school, this July 2013 blog post recounts an enthralling performance by krautrock legend Damo Suzuki and local psych rockers The Band Whose name is a Symbol. Now that cyberspace is so canned and commercialized will “resolutely real-time and non-virtual” experience become the new countercultural frontier?
Paintings, Sculpture & Decorative Arts
Handbook Entries /Extended labels for 13 works in the International Collection of the National Gallery of Canada (March 2011). Pithy introductions to paintings and sculptures by Thomas Cole, Piet Mondrian, Edward Wadsworth, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko, James Rosenquist, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Joseph Kosuth, Carl Andre, and Barnett Newman.
The Ptarmigan Vase: A Monumental Copper, Silver and Gold Mokume Vase, ca. 1900-05. These 24 pages of research were assembled in a matter of days in January 2011 in preparation for a successful auction bid for an amazing piece of Canadian-themed exotica designed by the former head jeweler at Tiffany’s. In a strange twist of fate a twin to this seemingly-unique work emerged a year later.
American Invasion: US Art meets Canada in the 1960s. Proposal by Graham Larkin (Dec 2010) for an exhibition to tour across Canada. Approved by the exhibition committee, but never realized due to the termination of my position in 2011.
Thomas Cole’s Tomb of General Brock, Queenston Heights. Justification for the acquisition of an 1830 painting for the National Gallery of Canada. Thanks to the efforts of my predecessor Catherine Johnson this painting had been on loan to the NGC for some years. In this successful 2009 effort to purchase it in time for the War of 1812 bicentenary year I note that as withWest‘s celebrated Death of Wolfe this is “a Canadian subject painted in England by an American émigré … perfect for the collection of European and American art in the National Gallery of Canada.” Here‘s the handbook entry/label I wrote for the work, and here‘s the announcement in the NCG magazine.
Catalogue entry on Cristoforo Roncalli’s Death of Sapphira in From Raphael to the Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome, National Gallery of Canada, 2009. A painting acquired during my tenure as as Curator of European & American Art.
Sleep Laboratory: An Intimate Investigation into Warhol’s Process. Proposal for an exhibition riding the line between film and still imagery in Warhol’s amazing work of the mid-sixties.
Andy Warhol’s Sleep. Nov 2010 justification for the acquisition of a unique 1965 screenprint donated to the National Gallery. This is a stunning poster-sized work, with a Warhol print on one side and an anonymous, Rauschenburg-style print on the other. It was donated by the delightful Marla and Larry Wasser, who took a day to show me their stunning private collection in Toronto. Over lunch we bumped into filmmaker David Cronenberg, who had include the print in his 2006 Supernova exhibition at the AGO.
Printing the World: Representations of Places by European Artists, 1470-1720. Exhibition proposal, 2008. Supported for a while by the NGC and other institutions, this proposal was scrapped due to untenable budgetary restraints.
“Observing Birk’s Method,” in Sandow Birk, The Depravities of War. Grand Central Press, Santa Ana California and Hui Press Publications, Makawao, Maui, Hawai’i, 2007, pp. 72-74. Love his work!
“The Unfinished Eighteenth Century” in Michael Cole and Madeleine Viljoen (eds.) The Early Modern Painter-Etcher (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), pp. 75-83. A brief and quirky survey of 18thC etching.
The Elusive Oeuvre of Jacques Callot. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, 2003, 581 pp. A study of the origins of the modern art catalogue techniques in early modern print compilations. My thesis advisor was the remarkable Henri Zerner. Available for purchase here.
Guest editor with Lisa Pon, of “Printing Matters: The Materiality of Print in Early Modern Europe.” Word & Image, vol. 17, nos. 1-2 (2001). In addition to co-editing this double issue I co-wrote the introductory essay, designed the diagram of the scholarly field, and translated Roger Chartier’s afterword from the French.
Review of Henri-Jean Martin, La naissance du livre moderne: mise en page et mise en texte du livre français (XIVe-XVIIe siècles), in Print Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4 (2001), pp. 472-74.
Lines of Inquiry: Ancien Régime Book Illustration from the Department of Printing & Graphic Arts, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Brochure for a Houghton Library exhibition of sixty books, 8 pp., 1998.
Entries on seventeen prints in French Prints from the Age of the Musketeers, ed. Sue Welsh Reed. Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1998.
Meditations on a Landscape by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. A short student essay from 1995, now on this site as a blog post.
I’ve had a lot to say about road safety on social media, in public talks and in mainstream media appearances. An abiding concern in this advocacy is how we can constructively frame the road safety discussion—a subject I address in a 2017 post on Road violence and the English language.
I’ve had a lot to say about sustainable urbanism, largely on social media, blog posts and podcasts. A typical example is this review of a terrific book on tactical urbanism, also known as “action planning” or “planning by doing.” That includes a link to my author interview on the Slow Ottawa audiocast.