Opening day of Art Catalogues at LACMA, 2010

Art Catalogues Is Moving On

December 20, 2018

Since 2010, the independent art bookstore Art Catalogues has been gracing the lobby of the Ahmanson Building, with current and out-of-print museum and gallery exhibition catalogues and books and prints on modern art, architecture, and photography. Dagny Corcoran is the force behind Art Catalogues, which will close at LACMA on December 31, 2018, as she embarks on a new adventure. We caught up with Dagny to hear more. 

What is in the future for Art Catalogues? 

We're expanding! In addition to continuing our presence in Los Angeles, Art Catalogues will move to Paris and reside at Cahiers d’Art, the distinguished publisher of the legendary Zervos catalogue raisonné on Picasso. Now owned by publisher Staffan Ahrenberg, Cahiers d’Art, which has been in business in Paris since 1926, continues to publish books, limited editions, revues, prints, and catalogues raisonnés under his thoughtful direction. We hope to present a program very similar to what I have been doing here at LACMA for the past eight plus years, focusing on books and prints about 20th and 21st century art and architecture.

Why Paris?  

I have always thought of Art Catalogues as a resource for the documentation of creative thinking, of art aesthetics, and philosophy, and I have always had certain romantic ideas about Paris that are connected to art and books, and how independent bookstores are received there. I told LACMA director Michael Govan about applying for a permit to be a bouquiniste in Paris (he thought I was nuts, but then he kind of got what I was thinking and realized it was a great idea, but still nuts.) I've wanted to spend time in Paris, to really learn French, and to do something I had the knowledge to do but that I had not done before. I had been trying to figure out how to get there, and then, with serendipitous timing, my friend, artist Doug Aitken introduced me to Staffan. I was immediately comfortable with Staffan—when I told him about wanting to have a book stall on the Seine, his reaction was like Michael's—he laughed, thought I was nuts, and then understood how fun it could be. Luckily Staffan is more practical than I, and offered to "bring me in out of the rain" by suggesting that I move Art Catalogues to Cahiers d'Art. Staffan reminded me that there's rain in Paris, unlike Los Angeles.

What kind of programs and books will you be focusing on in Paris? 

Cahiers d'Art has an impressive inventory on modern art. I specialize in books and exhibition catalogues from about 1960 to the present, and so the Art Catalogues inventory will be a perfect add-on to expand Cahiers d'Art's inventory for the new store. I hope to do small salons, talks, and book signings with artists and architects, and present collateral material—printed ephemera, prints, posters, archival material.

Can you share some of your LACMA memories? 

It was so fun in the beginning. The space was just a room—the big sliding doors weren't there yet—and it would be 10,000 degrees in there when we did the talks. But people just wanted to be there—everyone was so curious and interested. John Bowsher [the late Vice President of Infrastructure at LACMA] was hugely important in the evolution of the space and in my thinking of what we could do: he put in the doors, gave me ideas about what to investigate, never said no, but had a way of suggesting that I re-think things sometimes! Michael was game, too—when we hosted Jorge Pardo, he allowed me to install the Pardo lanterns in Art Catalogues, where they've hung for years. They kind of identified how we thought about the future here at LACMA: combining art, design, and architecture. That definition is still valid now, defined by Peter Zumthor's new proposed building for the permanent collection.

Will you have a presence in L.A.?  

I was born in California: I will always be a Californian. I absolutely love it here. And book collecting is a disease—my inventory in L.A. continues to grow. I will open an office/showroom in Culver City to continue to develop libraries for my clients and to present my books, both new and out-of-print. I'll operate more as a book advisory service and host more intimate talks and book signings to introduce my clients to contemporary artists, and I'll be able to showcase Cahiers d'Art's publications here, as well. You can visit Art Catalogues when you're in L.A. or in Paris. We'll exhibit at the bookfairs and art fairs, and our books and events in both cities will be listed on our expanded website, as well. I'll have April in Paris, combined with California Dreamin'. What could be better?

Thank you, Dagny! Best of luck in the future, and we'll miss you!

Art Catalogues will close at LACMA on December 31, 2018. The space will be converted into an informational gallery, which will present the evolution of the LACMA campus and the new proposed building for the permanent collection designed by Peter Zumthor. This gallery is anticipated to open to the public in early spring 2019.

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