My editor and designer at Yale University Press are cooking up a dust jacket for A Terry Teachout Reader, the volume of my selected essays coming out next spring. First, it was going to be an all-typography jacket, which was perfectly fine by me, so of course that wouldn’t do. Then they wanted to put my photo on the front cover, which I nixed without hesitation. Then they asked me what I’d like to do. Since all the essays included in the book are about American artists (we actually planned at one point to call it All American: A Terry Teachout Reader), the thought occurred to me that it might be fun to put one of my favorite works of American art on the cover. To this end, I suggested four pieces that seemed to me variously evocative of American art and culture in the modern and post-modern eras.
The first, logically enough, is my celebrated John Marin etching, Downtown. The El, a semi-cubist portrayal of downtown Manhattan circa 1921.
The second, Fairfield Porter’s 1971 color lithograph Broadway (not part of my collection, alas), is a more contemporary variation on a similar theme.
Finally, two of Stuart Davis’ jazz-flavored paintings struck me as eminently suitable. The Whitney Museum’s Owh! in San Pao contains snippets of text that I thought highly suitable to a book about American art. And Ready-to-Wear, which belongs to the Art Institute of Chicago, seemed to me particularly appropriate because of the color scheme, in which red, white, and blue predominate.
I sent all four links off to Yale last week, but haven’t heard back yet. What do you think?