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The Books Museums Are Reading (full list)

Inside Museum Book Clubs

Museum Book Club 101

"Easy Participation + Content Rich Guides
= MFAH Book Club"

"Reading Between the Lions:
A Museum Book Club Success"


Museum Book Clubs Near You

With Downloadable Discussion Guides

Museum of Fine Art Houston (Houston, TX)
Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)†
Des Moines Art Center (Des Moines, IA)†


Akron Art Museum (Akron, OH)
Cleveland Museum of Art Library (Cleveland, OH)
The Columbus Museum (Columbus, OH)
Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati, OH)
Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH)
Saint Louis Art Museum (Saint Louis, MO)†
Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, WI)
Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, NE)
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN) 
Sheldon Museum of Art (Lincoln, NE)† 
Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, MI)
Milwaukee Public Museum (Milwaukee, WI)†
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (Cedar Rapids, IA)


The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD)†
Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, DE)
Worcester Art Museum Library (Worcester, MA)†
Attleboro Art Museum (Attleboro, MA)
Montclair Art Museum
(Montclair, NJ)
Brooklyn Museum of Art (Brooklyn, NY)
Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA)
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Utica, NY)
Newport Art Museum (Newport, RI)
Penn. Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA)
Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY)


Santa Monica Museum of Art (Santa Monica, CA)†
Las Cruces Museum of Art (Las Cruces, NM)
Carnegie Art Museum (Oxnard, CA)
Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA)
Honolulu Museum of Art (Honolulu, HI)
Springville Museum of Art (Springville, UT)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Salt Lake City, UT)
Nicolaysen Art Museum (Casper, WY)†
Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA)
University of New Mexico Art Museum (Albuquerque, NM) 
Rosenberg Library Museum (Galveston, TX) 


The Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX)
Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, TX)
Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC)
Ackland Art Museum (Chapel Hill, NC)
Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL)†
Columbus Museum (Columbus, GA)
New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA) 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA)
Montgomery Museum of Fine Art (Montgomery, AL)
Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts (Spring, TX)
El Paso Museum of Art (El Paso, TX)
Boca Raton Museum of Art (Boca Raton, FL)†
Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX)†
Art Museum at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, FL)

† Members-only book clubs,
all others open to the public.

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    Museum Book Club - Antoine's Alphabet

    Museum Book Club Guides

    Antoine’s Alphabet: Watteau and His World,
    Jed Perl

    Vintage, 2009
    Print: Yes | E-Book: Yes
    Discussion Guide (PDF)

    “Perl creates an astonishing experience by gathering his reflections on this ‘master of silken surfaces and elusive emotions’ in the form of an alphabet—a fairy tale for adults—giving us a new way to think about art. This brilliant collage of a book is a hunt for the treasure of Watteau’s life and vision that encompasses the glamour and intrigue of eighteenth-century Paris, the riotous history of Harlequin and Pierrot, and the work of such modern giants as Cézanne, Picasso, and Samuel Beckett.”

    Guide courtesy of The Mint Museum. Please feel free to use it for your own book club!

    Follow the discussion questions below and add your own questions at the end, or download a printable version of the guide now.

    1. What if anything did you know about Antoine Watteau and/or the Rococo period of art before reading the book? Was your opinion favorable? If not, why? Did you learn anything new after reading the book?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    2. Discuss Perl’s writing/organizational style for Antoine’s Alphabet. If you enjoyed the way the book was organized, explain why? If not, why?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    3. On page 13 Perl states, “He (Watteau) is the master of the in-between situations, less interested in life as a stage than in the preparations for going onstage or how actors feel after they’ve made their exits.” What does Perl mean by this? How is this statement reflected in Watteau’s work?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    4. What, if anything, did you know about the Commedia dell’arte characters before reading the book? What makes these characters popular among artists?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    5. On page 47, Perl discusses scholars’ opposite views of Watteau’s work; some scholars believing his work is upbeat, playful, and optimistic while others believe it to be shadowy, melancholy, and troubled. What do you think?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    6. Discuss this statement found on page 91. “The artist can never fully control his creation. The work of art eludes the creator’s grasp, takes on (one hopes!) a life of its own. If work of art is going to live, it must eventually turn its back on the artist, it must go its own way.”

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    7. Concerning Watteau’s stance on Ornament (Chapter “O” page 131). Does anyone else see the irony as it relates to his work?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    8. Did Perl’s incorporating of more contemporary figures and their relationship to or feelings about Watteau help give you a more holistic picture of Watteau or did it muddy the waters? Specifically discuss Samuel Beckett’s views of Watteau (pages 115–18).

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    9. Is this statement found on page 57, “Economy in the arts is something closer to a maximizing of power, the most done with the least …” a statement you would have associated with Watteau’s work before reading the book? If yes, please elaborate.

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

    10. What was your favorite “letter” or chapter? Or section of a chapter? Why?

    November 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterHol Art Books

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