Artists & Love: Famous Art Couples and Their Work

by Flory Gessner, Fine Arts and Music Librarian

Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard. When happening upon Félix González-Torres’ work in a museum, the un-indoctrinated might not recognize the twin clocks, piles of candy, or strings of lights as portraits of his partner Ross. Read more about the art that has come to symbolize love during the AIDS crisis and the life of Félix González-Torres in Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard.

I Will Never Forget You: Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray, Unpublished Photographs and Letters by Salomón Grimberg. While Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had a notoriously stormy and treacherous marriage, Frida enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with the Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray. This book of photos and letters creates a portrait of an affair between a highly-mythologized artist and one of the pioneers of color photography.

The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: a Legacy of Invention by Donald  Albrecht. The married team of designers, Charles and Ray Eames, created some of the most unique and enduring furniture and architectural design of the last century. Explore the legacy of this productive partnership in a book assembled by the Library of Congress and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies by Nell Beram & Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. For nearly 50 years John Lennon received full credit for the song “Imagine,” which is directly based on the art of his widow, Yoko Ono. While formal credit has only recently been acknowledged, Ono’s conceptual art and place in the international experimental art scene spans decades. Read about Ono’s body of work and discover a new perspective on this prolific artist and her influence on art and music in this concise biography.

Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement. In Basquiat’s 1982 painting “A Panel of Experts,” the name Madonna is crossed out below the name Venus. The “Madonna,” may be referring to pop-star Madonna (whom Basquiat briefly dated), but Venus is referring to his long-time girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk. Read about their life together in Widow Basquiat by close friend of both, Jennifer Clement.

Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico by Melanie Herzog. American multi-hyphenate artist Elizabeth Catlett chose the ex-pat life when she fell in love with fellow artist Francisco Mora in the 1940s. Read about how her move to Mexico expanded her view on the Black Experience in North America, and her boundary-breaking life and career in this book.

When Marina Abramović Dies by James Wescott. While Marina Abramović is a highly visible presence in the contemporary art world, she began her career as part of a duo with an artist known solely as Ulay. Even their breakup was a dramatic performance piece: in 1988, after over 12 years together, they walked towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China, met in the middle, and vowed never to see the other again.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: in /out studio by Christo. This catalog spans the dramatic and whimsical collaborations of the couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Together, they transcended the limits of sculpture, architecture, and performance for over thirty years.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. Though their relationship began as romantic and turned largely platonic, Just Kids is a love story about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti Smith’s memoir is a love letter to art, New York, poetry, and a magical time spent developing as an artist with her close friends.

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, edited by Aaron Rose, Christian Strike, Alex Baker, Arty Nelson and Jocko Weyland. In this tome of graffiti and youth culture, see how artist couples like Ed and Deanna Templeton, Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson created diverse bodies of work that transcended old art world boundaries of street art, folk art, skateboarding, painting, photography, and video.

Contemporary Romance Poetry at the Library

by Mary Dzwonchyk, Information Services Librarian

February is upon us, which means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate the season than by curling up with a book of love poems? Whether you’re happily coupled, contentedly single, or pining after an ex, nothing speaks to the universal human experience better than love poetry.

After all, haven’t we all had a sweetheart “like a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June”[1]?  Surely your lover “walks in beauty, like the night,”[2] “an angel beautiful and bright”[3] whose “eternal summer shall not fade”[4], right?

Or does all that sound a bit…too good to be true?

If you’ve ever been in love, you know it isn’t all “cloudless climes and starry skies.”[5] Idyllic scenes of blissful ecstasy make up roughly 5% of most romantic relationships; the remaining 95% comprises episodes of mundanity punctuated by small joys, silly quibbles and petty quarrels. This is the daily reality of love: the coffee spoons[6], the plums stolen from the icebox[7].

The following list is a sampling of works from contemporary poets who approach romance from this perspective, writing about love in all its raw, imperfect, mundane glory. All the collections listed below are available to check out from the Pratt.


Say So by Dora Malech

 Malech writes about love in rollicking verse, peppered with quick, alliterative trips of the tongue. Clever wordplay and unexpected imagery make Say So an engaging read, and ground poems like “Love Poem” and “The End” in gritty reality.

“Tell me you’ll dismember this night forever,

you my punch-drunking bag, tar to my feather.

More than the sum of our private parts, we are some

peekaboo, some peak and valley, some

Bright equation…”

(“Love Poem”)


Missing Persons by Hilary S. Jacqmin

Jacqmin presents romantic vignettes from all stages of life, from awkward teenage courtship (“The Breaking Wheel”), to post-adolescent sexual exploration (“Wedding Album”), to adult cohabitation (“Coupling”). Throughout, Jacqmin’s detail-rich, relatable diction allows the reader to share in her frustrations, sorrows, and joys.

“The bastard thing of dating is the boys

who take you bodily to the Renaissance Fair,

How they are all inexplicably named Ashley,

And how they encourage you to chaw

On turkey legs as leathery as blackjacks.”

(“The Breaking Wheel”)


The Uppity Blind Girl Poems by Kathi Wolfe

Wolfe offers a unique perspective on love and relationships, detailing her romantic experiences as a visually impaired lesbian. Through poems such as “Love at First Sight” and “Blind Porn,” Wolfe relates scenes of romance and sex in a delightfully down-to-earth voice brimming with humor and candor.

“They’d clicked that night

When they kissed in Washington Square Park,

Until this guy, panting, leered, I gotta take a pic
With my phone — two blind chicks making out.

(“Blind Porn”)


Tantalus in Love by Alan Shapiro

Shapiro offers beautifully melancholic meditations on love and loss: the slow fading away of attraction in a twenty-year marriage (“Anger”); the specter of lost love remaining after a break-up (“The Haunting”); and the cautious emergence of new love after loss (“Medley”).

“In the TV’s soft light, at the foot of the bed,

In pajama bottoms and a skimpy tank top,

Her lovely body that he hasn’t touched

In how long now? five months maybe? longer?”



I’d also like to recommend one of my personal favorite, albeit less contemporary, love poems: Sonnet 130, by William Shakespeare. Abandoning his usual flowery hyperbole, Shakespeare here takes a refreshingly realistic approach. He writes fondly of a mistress whose dull skin and reeking breath sharply contrast the rosy-cheeked, ethereal maidens populating his contemporaries’ work. Despite her flaws, his love for this decidedly un-goddess-like woman is “as rare/As any she belied with false compare.”[8]


[1] Robert Burns, “A Red, Red Rose”

[2] Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night”

[3] Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Love”

[4] William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”

[5] Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night”

[6] T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

[7] William Carlos Williams, “This is Just to Say”

[8] William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 130”

Love Songs at the Library

by Flory, Fine Arts and Music Librarian

Looking to serenade someone this Valentine’s Day? Come to the Fine Arts and Music Department at the Central Library to find the perfect song. From Beyoncé to Broadway Hits, we have the sheet music for collections of love songs that span decades, genres, instruments and languages!

Browse our catalog for some of our scores by using search terms like “Love Songs,” “Wedding Songs,” “Ballads,” “Popular Music,” “Hits,” or even  the title of a film you know the song is in.

Our massive song index can help you find “that one song, by that one guy,” so you can do your thing! Our music specialists can be reached by phone at 410-396-5490, online, or IRL at the Central Library Fine Arts and Music department. Let us help you find the guitar, vocal, or piano music to “your song,” to up your Valentine’s Day game. Click a the title below to reserve your copy.

Pratt Staff Picks Best of 2017: eAudiobooks

Need a new book to listen to in the car on the way to work, or on your way to grandmother’s house this holiday? Click the cover to reserve your copy of…

Best eAudiobooks 2017


By Annie Barrows

[Recommended by Michele Ringer-Weil] From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right.


By Yaa Gyasi

[Recommended by Anne Calhoun] Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.


By Jodi Picoult

[Recommended by Lynn Scott] In Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult tackles the profoundly challenging yet essential con­cerns of our time: prejudice, race, and justice.

That’s all for Best Of 2017.  Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what your favorites!

Pratt Staff Picks Best of 2017: Young Adult Titles

All week long, the Pratt librarians are picking the best books of 2017 for your reading list.  Click on the cover to reserve your copy now.

Today– we introduce you to…

Best Young Adult Titles 2017


By Angie Thomas

[The Most Recommended YA Title of 2017] Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. That is shattered as she witnesses the shooting of her best friend by a police officer.

                                                                                    JANE, UNLIMITED

By Kristin Cashore

[Recommended by Lucie Ferguson]An instant New York Times bestseller—from the award-winning author of the Graceling Realm series—a kaleidoscopic novel about grief, adventure, storytelling, and finding yourself in a world of seemingly infinite choices.


By Tim Federle

[Recommended by Julie Johnson] Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. That was before a car accident changed everything.

                                                                            FLYING LESSONS & OTHER STORIES

Edited By Ellen Oh

[Recommended by Will Robinson] In partnership with We Need Diverse Books some of the biggest names in literature come together to tell ten distinct and vibrant stories.


By Jason Reynolds

[Recommended by Deborah Taylor] Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.


By Sabaa Tahir

[Recommended by Ariel Greenway] Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, their paths cross and they realize their destinies are intertwined.


By Young Rewired State

[Recommended by Liz Bosarge] Crack open this book and set off on several fun missions — while simultaneously learning the basics of writing code.

Check out #PrattChat tomorrow for the Best Graphic Novels 2017.