Artists inspire us, but what inspires artists? Under the Influence: A Traveling Library of Books that Inspire Artists features one hundred titles, from across multiple genres, chosen by artists at the invitation of Asia Art Archive. For many art practitioners, reading is a starting point for their work, a process that permeates their practice. AAA invited artists from around the world to choose a book that inspired their artistic practice and share personal stories related to their selection, thereby providing singular perspectives on these foundational texts—whether novels, poetry, or classics from sci-fi, psychology, history, philosophy, and other disciplines.
The Under the Influence Library debuted in AAA’s booth at Art Basel Hong Kong in March 2017 and afterwards the Traveling Library visited secondary schools in Hong Kong and other arts institutions throughout Asia in 2018, circulating these ideas to new audiences. The library lands at Asia Art Archive in America for summer 2019, open to the public in our reading room five days a week. The AAA-A installation features a new set of mobile bookshelves designed for the library by the artist Wang Xu, as well as thirteen new titles added to the library for its U.S. visit, which have been contributed by New York based artists.
Related programs to be held throughout the summer include (further details to be announced):
Bookbinding Workshop with Chang Yuchen – a hands-on exploration of the physical structure and metaphorical possibilities of the book form, including a brief introduction to the history of artists’ books and an introduction to three styles of bookbinding
Secrets of Reading: Artist Conversation – How does reading inform artistic practice? Artists discuss the books they selected for Under the Influence and share how reading shapes their work.
Under the Influence Book Club – How do artists seek knowledge, expand their perspectives, and engage with the contemporary world? To explore this question AAA-A team members will select one artist-chosen title from the library to read and hold an informal roundtable conversation to examine the text alongside the artist’s body of work.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.