TWO of our books, Body Sweats and Crystal Flower, made the New York Times' end-of-the-year roundup of notable art books (it's pretty amazing to have ONE, never mind TWO books listed here in a given year!)
Also independent from exhibitions but intimately bound to art, are three new books of poems by artists. The wildest of the collections by far is BODY SWEATS: THE UNCENSORED WRITINGS OF ELSA BARONESS VON FREYTAG LORINGHOVEN (MIT Press, $34.95), edited by Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo. The baroness (1874-1927) was one of the outstanding lifestyle radicals of the early Dada era, or of any era, really; I'm not sure even a hard-core punk collective would have known quite what to make of her. In addition to being an artist and a personage, she was a furiously witty and aggressively erotic experimental writer, as this first published collection of her poetry demonstrates.
The prettiest-looking of the three books is CRYSTAL FLOWERS: POEMS AND A LIBRETTO (Bookthug, $18), by Florine Stettheimer, also edited, though for a different press, by Ms. Gammel and Ms. Zelazo. Stettheimer (1871-1944) was, like the baroness, a notable art world eccentric, though of a different kind: elusive, deeply private and withholding of her work. Her paintings of fantastically imagined avant-garde soirees have become American modernist staples since her death. Her poetry has been little seen and, published in this neat little book, with Stettheimer floating across the cover, it's a delight: whimsical but with surprisingly frequent and well-placed bites.