Like many readers, I have in my library a small group of monographs that qualify as neither fish nor fowl. Although they are not books I revisit frequently for reference, they are not quite books I can ignore and consign to the attic when I need more space. Usually the product of devoted research into less-well-documented figures—for which their mere existence makes them welcome—these studies fail to provide the sort of revelatory experience I find in more successful explorations of artists’ lives and works. Yet since these books frequently offer the only attempts at serious discussion of artists whose work deserves greater renown, I keep them, even if I rarely return to them.

I will probably stash John T. Hill’s ambitious new volume, Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions, in this little corner. It is a tremendously frustrating...


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