DMA Arts & Letters Live, the Museum’s acclaimed literary and performing arts series, announced a “but wait there’s more!” extension of its 25th anniversary season this week with six author events for the fall.
I’m particularly excited that each of these carefully selected programs dovetails with the DMA’s collection, and we’re offering pre-event tours so that people can explore connections between the featured books and art currently on view.
Here’s the scoop and a few tidbits on why we selected them.
Australian author Robert Hoge wowed us with his TEDx talk, sharing his own poignant and personal story of being born with a tumor on his face and disfigured legs. His memoir for adults and now middle grade students, Ugly addresses life, love, beauty, imperfection, and pain, so his story will resonate with a wide variety of ages. Hoge says, “We all have scars only we can own.” Our pre-event tour will focus on Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait Very Ugly and stir discussion about self-perception and ideas of beauty.
September 15: Ross King
Ross King returns to the DMA by popular demand with his new book, Mad Enchantment, about the beloved artist Claude Monet and the creation of his famous water lily paintings. He argues that there is more than meets the eye with these serene images of beauty, examining the complexity behind them and the frustrations and challenges that Monet overcame to create them. A docent will discuss the DMA’s iconic painting of water lilies and other Impressionist highlights before the event.
Candice Millard’s brilliant new biography, Hero of the Empire, pinpoints the little-known story of young Winston Churchill’s Indiana Jones–like adventures, including a bold escape from prison camp during the Boer War. Millard offers keen insights on how the lessons Churchill learned in the midst of these challenges related to his achievements and legacy as prime minister later in his life. Before the event, enjoy a gallery talk about Winston Churchill’s friendship with Wendy and Emery Reves and see his paintings and belongings on view in the Reves Collection.
One of the most buzzworthy books this summer, garnering more than 250 stellar reviews on Amazon, Yaa Gyasi’s epic debut novel, Homegoing, begins with two half-sisters in 18th-century Ghana—one married off to a wealthy Englishman, the other sold into slavery—and traces the lives of their descendants to 20th-century America. (FYI: Knopf acquired the novel for more than $1 million from the then 25-year-old author!). Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson adored Gyasi’s novel and will discuss it with her as well as her own National Book Critics Circle Award–winning memoir, Negroland. Before the event, join curator Dr. Roslyn Walker in the galleries to explore works of art from Ghana.
British author Hannah Rothschild knows the art world—she comes from a prominent art-collecting family and is the first woman chair of the National Gallery in London. Rothschild is coming to the DMA in her only US appearance for the paperback release of her debut novel, The Improbability of Love. The New York Times hailed it as “a frolicsome art-world caper,” and Elizabeth Gilbert called it “an inspired feast of clever delights.” In it, Annie McDee stumbles upon a grimy painting in a secondhand shop that turns out to be a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French artists of the 18th century. While searching for the painting’s identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history as well as the possibility of falling in love again. Before the event, don’t miss the chance to hear Dr. Nicole Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, highlight 18th–century French paintings in the DMA’s collection.
We’ve had several requests to bring in the #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell on audience surveys, so we are excited to cap off our 25th anniversary season with twenty-five years of Cornwell’s popular high-stakes series starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell will share insights about her new novel, Chaos, involving a cyberbully; her creative process in researching and writing her books; and her theory that artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. Fans can purchase VIP experience tickets that include a wine and cheese reception with the author, a hardcover copy of Chaos, reserved premium seating, and a book signing fast-track pass.
You can make DMA Arts & Letters Live your own book club—invite your friends to join you for these unique and inspiring evenings combining books and art!
Carolyn Bess is the Director of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.