Q&A with Dagny Corcoran, Part II

Yesterday we introduced you to Dagny Corcoran. Today, more on the bookstore she’ll be opening at LACMA on Valentine’s Day—also, by the way, the opening day for Renoir in the 20th Century.

Q: It seems as if you showed up at LACMA one day and were ready to open a dramatically different bookstore on the next. Did it all transpire as quickly as it seems?

A: Yes! I came on as a consultant just a month ago.

Q: What is your approach to book buying?

A: I look at an exhibition catalogue and then I make links. For example, Renoir in the 20th Century. I’m looking at modernism in film, in literature, in music, in theater, and in other artists working at the time. They all were looking at each other, these artists, and some of them were friends.

Q: What’s your vision for the latest venue for Art Catalogues?

A: The bookstore will be much more of a performative space, a theater. All of the bookcases will be on wheels so we can push them aside to make room for talks, signings, music, theater. Why not have a band in there? Or a poetry slam? There will be webcams that can stream performances live. I don’t want to go backwards to having lunches in the store like I did in the old days because I didn’t have any customers. Yet, I would like to do some version of that today because I want to have a dialogue. Art is art and it’s all connected.

Q: Will you only sell books?

A: No. There will be one large, long wall used for changing exhibitions. I specialize in museum and gallery exhibition catalogues, but there will also be a lot of multiples, of objects. Some wildly expensive, some not expensive at all. As an aside, members will still get their standard discount on books. The most interesting thing is that the inventory will change. Artists and curators will curate the books and make displays, which is interesting because it’s a different point of view.

Q: How will that work?

A: I’ll approach a curator, for example, and ask her about her next exhibition—what research she’s doing, what books she’s interested in, and what on earth led her to those books. What’s her reading list? Then, I’ll augment that list with interesting things that are collateral to it. Then I’ll ask about objects or posters from the era of the selection and have a display of that stuff.

Allison Agsten

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