NOMA Book Club sets 2018 reading list and schedule

Join NOMA staff and fellow book lovers as we read and discuss fiction and nonfiction books related to art, artists, art museums, NOMA’s collections and exhibitions.

Organized by NOMA’s Felix J. Dreyfous Library, the Book Club is an informal group. You do not have to attend every meeting and we understand if you have to leave a discussion or program early. The book club offers several types of programs: a book discussion group that meets once a month (no reading in December), curatorial programs, field trips, and Meet the Author receptions. Most book club programs start promptly at noon, but please arrive at 11:30 a.m. if you wish to bring a sack lunch or meet beforehand. NOMA will provide water and soft drinks.

RSVP for the meetings you wish to attend so we can prepare the meeting space. Remember to send your suggestions for “reads” throughout the year. They may appear in the following year’s schedule.

Please contact Sheila A. Cork at 504.658.4117 or for information about joining the NOMA Book Club.



Fabulous New Orleans by Lyle Saxon

Pelican, 1988. ISBN: 978-0882897066 (Any edition is acceptable)

Lyle Saxon’s timeless impressions of colorful New Orleans, first recorded more than half a century ago, not only reveal inherent mystery and frivolity, but also recall the city’s elaborate history, spanning more than two centuries and three cultures. The various aspects of the French, Spanish, and Creole societies, which continue to define today’s city, are documented here through wide-ranging vignettes of daily life and elaborate rituals. A view of the Creole courtyard, an account of the first settlers, and a glimpse of the Zulu parade are typical of the many episodes from which the spirit of the city emerges. (

Wednesday, January 10, 10 am – 3 pm | Field trip to Antoine’s Restaurant and the Louisiana State Museum’s Mardi Gras Collection at the Presbytere, in conjunction with the exhibition Bror Anders Wikstrom: Bringing Fantasy to Carnival.

  • Antoine’s: 713 Saint Louis St. in the French Quarter. Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Carpool: 10 am. Meet in Library 11 am. Antoine’s Tour: 11:30 am, followed by lunch (Special prix-fixe three-course lunch, see website)
  • 1:30 p.m. Presbytere – Meet by front entrance of the museum on Jackson Square

Wednesday, January 24, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Thursday, January 25, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion by Lauren Goldstein Crowe

Thomas Dunne Books, 2010. ISBN: 978-0312592943

In 2007, the news of Isabella Blow’s suicide at the age of 48 made headlines around the world―but there is more to the story of Isabella than her tragic end. The key supporter and muse of milliner Philip Treacy and designer Alexander McQueen, Blow was truly more than a muse or patron. She was a spark, an electrical impulse that set imaginations racing, an individual who pushed others to create their best work. Lauren Goldstein Crowe has crafted a superbly entertaining narrative, wrapping the anecdotes of Isabella’s antics around a candid, insightful portrayal of a woman whose thirst for the fantastical ultimately became irreconcilable with life in the real world. (

Thursday, February 22, 12 – 1 pm| Curatorial Program with Mel Buchanan, RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts & Design

Tuesday, February 27, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group

Wednesday, February 28, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group


Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

Phaidon Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0714865911

What is art’s purpose? In this engaging, lively, and controversial new book, bestselling philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that they can be useful, relevant, and—above all else—therapeutic for their viewers. De Botton argues that certain great works offer clues on managing the tensions and confusions of everyday life. Chapters on Love, Nature, Money, and Politics outline how art can help with these common difficulties—for example, Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter helps us focus on what we want to be loved for; Serra’s Fernando Pessoa reminds us of the importance of dignity in suffering; and Manet’s Bunch of Asparagus teaches us how to preserve and value our long‐term partners. Art as Therapy offers an unconventional perspective, demonstrating how art can guide us, console us, and help us better understand ourselves. (

Tuesday, March 6, 12 – 1 pm | Meet the Author: Pamela Arcenaux from the Historic New Orleans Collection will discuss and sign her book, Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New Orleans.

Tuesday, March 27, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group

Wednesday, March 28, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group


Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook

Bloomsbury Press; Reprint edition, 2009. ISBN: 978-1596915992

Timothy Brook uses works by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the 1700s when globalization really began.

Tuesday, April 10, 12 – 1 pm | Curatorial program with Vanessa Schmid, Senior Research Curator for European Art

Wednesday, April 25, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Thursday, April 26, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse by Stanley Meisler

St. Martin’s Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-1137278807

For a couple of decades before World War II, a group of immigrant painters and sculptors, including Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, and Jules Pascin dominated the new art scene of Montparnasse in Paris. Art critics gave them the name “the School of Paris” to set them apart from the French-born (and less talented) young artists of the period. Soutine arrived in Paris while many painters were experimenting with cubism, but he had no time for trends and fashions; like his art, Soutine was intense, demonic, and fierce. After the defeat of France by Hitler’s Germany, the Eastern European Jewish immigrants who had made their way to France for sanctuary were no longer safe. In constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo, plagued by poor health and bouts of depression, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist. Rich in period detail, Stanley Meisler’s Shocking Paris explores the short, dramatic life of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. (

Thursday, May 10, 12 – 1 pm | Curatorial Program with Allison Young, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Modern and Contemporary Art

Wednesday, May 23, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Friday, May 25, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Simon & Schuster, 2016. ISBN: 9781451693607

Alice Hoffman brings into focus the birth of impressionism and the forces that shaped Camille Pissarro’s artistic drive through the complicated, rich, adventure-filled life story of his fiery mother, fueled by her love for her family, her stubborn flaunting of society’s rules, and her deep loyalty to her friends. (Library Journal, 06/01/2015)

Wednesday, June 20, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Friday, June 22, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


Lisette’s List: A Novel by Susan Vreeland

Random House Trade Paperbacks 2015. ISBN: 978-0812980196

In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband André move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather, Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures. Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. When war breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.

Friday, July 13, 12 – 1 pm | Speaker Anna DesOrmeaux, M.A. in Medieval & Renaissance Art History, will discuss Nazi art theft and reparations.

Tuesday, July 17, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group

Wednesday, July 18, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Friday, July 27, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm | Introduction to 2019 book selections and a potluck lunch


The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark by Carolyn J. Brown

University Press of Mississippi, 2017. ISBN: 978-1496810144

Artist Kate Freeman Clark (1875–1957) left behind more than one thousand paintings now stored at a gallery bearing her name in her hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi. But it was not until after her death in 1957, at the age of eighty-one, that citizens even discovered that she was a painter of considerable stature. In her will, Clark left the city her family home, her paintings stored at a warehouse in New York for over forty years, and money to build a gallery, much to the surprise of the Holly Springs community. (

Wednesday, August 15, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Thursday, August 16, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

University Press of Mississippi, 2017. ISBN: 978-1496810144

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years, countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century. (

Wednesday, September 12, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Friday, September 14, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group


Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

Walker Books, 2003. ISBN: 978-0802713957

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling recounts the fascinating story of the four extraordinary years the artist spent laboring over the twelve-thousand square feet of the vast ceiling, while war and the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. A panorama of illustrious figures intersected during this time—the brilliant young painter Raphael, with whom Michelangelo formed a rivalry, the fiery preacher Girolamo Savonarola, and the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus.

Tuesday, October 16, 10 am – 5 pm | Michelangelo book on display in library

Tuesday, October 23, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group

Wednesday, October 24, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group


Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford

New York Review of Books Classics, 2001. ISBN: 978-0940322653

When Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of Louis XV, no one expected her to retain his affections for long. A member of the bourgeoisie rather than an aristocrat, she was physically too cold for the carnal Bourbon king, and had so many enemies that she could not travel publicly without risking a pelting of mud and stones. History has loved her little better. Nancy Mitford’s delightfully candid biography recreates the spirit of eighteenth-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery. We learn that the Queen was a “bore,” the Dauphin a “prig,” and see France increasingly overcome with class conflict. With a fiction writer’s felicity, Mitford restores the royal mistress and celebrates her as a survivor, unsurpassed in “the art of living,” who reigned as the most powerful woman in France for nearly twenty years.

Friday, November 9, 12 – 1 pm | Curatorial Program with Vanessa Schmid, Senior Research Curator for European Art

Wednesday, November 14, 1:30 – 3 pm | Book Discussion Group

Thursday, November 15, 12 – 1 pm | Book Discussion Group