I have been thinking that there has not been much ‘home’ work being done at TOA lately and that I should be checking in with my list. Or looking around on the web for other peoples lists, that could also be a good use of my time. Over at Sight Unseen I found these lists from people with possibly a little more ‘initiative’ or ‘industry’ than I have at the moment; I’ll rank myself at fair for the month of May with the hopes that June will see an improvement.

13. Not kill the sweet little plants I got for the garden and have a meal from them.

18. Clean out mud room. Maintain highly organized mud room and finish those last little bits.

23. Invite everyone I know over to CELEBRATE! Repeat no. 23 on a regular basis.

Harry Bertoia “May-Self Rating Chart” School Assignment

Bertoia List – 1932 – handwritten

Sculptor and designer Harry Bertoia (1915–1978) was just fifteen years old when he moved from Italy to the United States to live with his brother, Oreste. Two years later, struggling to assimilate as a student at the Elizabeth Cleveland Intermediate High School in Detroit, he made this list of personal attributes as part of an illustrated booklet titled My Career. Though Bertoia is hard on himself — only scoring “excellent” in health, neatness, and accuracy — in My Career he states his claim to be an artist.

Vito Acconci Instructions to Dorothy and Herbert Vogel

Acconci List – 1971 – mimeographed typescript

Performance and conceptual artist Vito Acconci (b. 1940) has a fear of flying. In this numbered list from 1971, he leaves open-ended instructions about what to do with his apartment and its contents should he die in transit. Intended as a conceptual work of art (and perhaps as a potential postmortem performance), Acconci mailed this list to art collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel and others in the art world. It remains as the material evidence of the art event.

Eero Saarinen List of Aline Bernstein’s Good Qualities

Saarinen List – Ca. 1954 –  handwritten

Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen (1910–1961), the designer of such structural icons as the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport (1962) in New York and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (1965), met his second wife, Aline (1914–1972), on January 28, 1953. Aline, then an art editor and critic at The New York Times, was writing an article on Saarinen’s new General Motors Technical Center (1955) in Warren, Michigan — a sleek, corporate campus of steel, aluminum, and glass. They fell in love instantly… In this list, written around the time of their marriage, Saarinen enumerates Aline’s positive traits.

Images and descriptions via Sight Unseen.

From Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art by Liza Kirwin. Copyright 2010, Smithsonian Institution, reprinted with permission from Princeton Architectural Press.


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