Synopses & Reviews
Auction catalogs can tell you a lot about a person—their passions and vanities, peccadilloes and aesthetics; their flush years and lean. Think of the collections of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Truman Capote, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
In Leanne Shaptons marvelously inventive and invented auction catalog, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris (who arent real people, but might as well be). Through photographs of the couples personal effects—the usual auction items (jewelry, fine art, and rare furniture) and the seemingly worthless (pajamas, Post-it notes, worn paperbacks)—the story of a failed love affair vividly (and cleverly) emerges. From first meeting to final separation, the progress and rituals of intimacy are revealed through the couples accumulated relics and memorabilia. And a love story, in all its tenderness and struggle, emerges from the evidence that has been left behind, laid out for us to appraise and appreciate.
In an earlier work, Was She Pretty?, Shapton, a talented artist and illustrator, subtly explored the seemingly simple yet powerfully complicated nature of sexual jealousy. In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris—a very different yet equally original book—she invites us to contemplate what is truly valuable, and to consider the art we make of our private lives.
"Yes, breaking up is hard to do, but reading about it has never been so pleasurable." Very Short List
"The critic Albert Gelpi once described how "the artist kills experience into art," exchanging some part of the vitality of experience for permanence because, "the fixity of ‘life' in art and the fluidity of ‘life' in nature are incompatible." Only the best artists find the delicate balance between art's fixity and life's fluid vitality, and in Important Artifacts
Leanne Shapton shows herself such an artist." Emily Colette Wilkinson, The Virginia Quarterly Review
(read the entire Virginia Quarterly review
About the Author
Leanne Shapton is an illustrator, writer, and publisher who was born in Toronto and now lives in New York. She is the art director of the New York Times op-ed page and cofounder of J&L Books, a nonprofit Publishing company specializing in new photography, art, and fiction. She is the author of Was She Pretty?