From time to time I enjoy a really dense biography - my favourite having been John Richardson's three volumes on Picasso, almost work by work. Being immersed for so long in an artist's development, I find helps me to meditate more fruitfully on their point of view.
I have recently been reading Frances Spalding's John and Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art, and finally finished it yesterday. I have long been a fan of John Piper's work, but it was Margaret Cooter who through her blog spurred me actually to read the book, and glad I am. I was particularly pleased that an exhibition of John Piper's designs for fabric was on and I was able to visit it while I was reading the book.
Dorchester Abbey (image from here)
I became properly aware of John Piper's work in the early '70s when I was working in Oxford. Somehow Piper for me summed up what was attractive about England, a country I had hardly experienced, and it has been fascinating to read about just how he was enamoured with the particularly English character of architecture - especially churches. Because of that love of architecture we have not only his paintings and prints, but splendid stained glass, theatre and fabric design.
Also I was delighted to find out so much about Myfanwy Piper who wrote librettos, especially for Benjamin Britten: Turn of the Screw and Owen Wingrave in particular. She was also a critic, and I look forward to seeking out some of her work to read.
But not just yet. I am ready to move on to my next subject area in my reading pile: printmaking. Degas' monoprints, then Anselm Kiefer's woodcuts await my attention. And after that Georgia O'Keeffe - but one step at a time.