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Published June 29, 2023

Pride Reads from McNally Jackson: Testudo’s Art Book Recommendations

By John Dennehy & Kirby Voigtman

John & Kirby co-founded Testudo in 2022.

In celebration of Pride, co-founders Kirby Voigtman and John Dennehy have selected five art books to recommend from McNally Jackson, the beloved independent bookseller and New York institution. These wide-ranging volumes resonate with Testudo’s founding story as a platform that introduces the unique works of diverse emerging studio artists to a new generation of budding collectors.

This Pride month, Kirby & John—who married in 2021 before launching Testudo—are reflecting on their journey to establishing a more transparent, inclusive, and equitable marketplace for contemporary art. This professional mission derives from their experiences as beginner collectors particularly of queer and ceramic art. In attempting to navigate the often opaque and exclusive art world, Kirby & John turned to books to help them comprehend and contextualize the contemporary art to which they gravitated.

Kirby & John’s copy of "Amor Mundi" pictured in their apartment surrounded by works by Testudo artists Claire Burkett, Jinsik Yoo, and Anna Ortiz. Photo courtesy of Joseph Joseph Studio.

Amor Mundi: The Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman


I purchased this set after reading an interview that Marguerite Steed Hoffman gave about what motivates her to collect. I admire how she has shifted to supporting more emerging and mid-career artists as well as her stewardship of such works. This beautiful publication commemorates her collecting practice.John Dennehy

“This two-volume, slipcased, clothbound publication presents a selection of over 400 works of modern and contemporary art from the Marguerite Steed Hoffman Collection in Dallas, Texas. The books feature the pieces brought together by Marguerite Steed and her late husband Robert Hoffman (1947–2006), including Philip Guston’s Studio Landscape (1975), Jasper Johns’ Water Freezes (1961) and Cy Twombly’s Sunset Rome (1957), along with more recent outstanding acquisitions such as Peter Doig’s Red Man (Sings Calypso) (2017), Maria Lassnig’s Self-Portrait with Hare (2000) and Steve McQueen’s Weight (2016). Around 30 authors―artists and art historians―explore this fascinating collection, addressing specific artworks as well as the motivations behind the collection’s creation and ongoing evolution.” 

"Hugh Hayden: American Vernacular" in McNally Jackson's store.

Hugh Hayden: American Vernacular


I have been eagerly awaiting this monograph all year. At the end of 2021, I was fortunate to see Hayden’s exhibition, Boogey Men, at ICA Miami. That experience was replicated almost every day last year on our daily walks through the public art exhibition in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Black Atlantic, which Hayden co-curated with Public Art Fund. To be able to revisit these works and others through this monograph is incredibly exciting.Kirby Voigtman

“The first-ever monograph on American artist Hugh Hayden, whose sculptures are known for their engagement with notions of class, race, and cultural assimilation, as well as the construction of nature. This pioneering study of Hayden’s work includes 90 full-color images of the artist’s remarkable, labor-intensive sculptural practice over the past decade, as well as critical essays by curator Sarah J. Montross, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Carmen Maria Machado, and an interview between the artist and curator Horace Ballard, PhD.” 

Co-founder John Dennehy with his copies of "Boom" and "Nicole Eisenman"

Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art


Boom offers a fascinating background on the history and development of the contemporary art market over the past 75 years. The narrative focus on individual dealers and other players provides a more intimate look beyond the shocking auction results at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.Kirby Voigtman

“The contemporary art market is an international juggernaut, throwing off multimillion-dollar deals as wealthy buyers move from fair to fair, auction to auction, party to glittering party. But none of it would happen without the dealers-the tastemakers who back emerging artists and steer them to success, often to see them picked off by a rival. Dealer operate within a private world of handshake agreements, negotiating for the highest commissions. Michael Shnayerson, a longtime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, writes the first ever definitive history of their activities. He has spoken to all of today's so-called mega dealers—Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, Arne and Marc Glimcher, and Iwan Wirth—along with dozens of other dealers—from Irving Blum to Gavin Brown—who worked with the greatest artists of their times: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and more.”

"Art after Stonewall" in McNally Jackson's store.

Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989


This is a landmark primer on the queer art that arose during the modern LGBTQ liberation movement. Exhibitions and catalogues like this are vehicles for reckoning with American history through the individual and collective works of contemporary artists.
John Dennehy

“Winner of the 2020 Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators, Art After Stonewall explores the powerful art that emerged in the wake of the Stonewall Riots and the rise of the LGBTQ liberation movement in the U.S. Art after Stonewall reveals the impact of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender civil rights movement on the art world. Illustrated with more than 200 works, this groundbreaking volume stands as a visual history of twenty years in American queer life. It focuses on openly LGBT artists like Nan Goldin, Harmony Hammond, Lyle Ashton Harris, Greer Lankton, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, and Andy Warhol, as well as the practices of such artists as Diane Arbus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Karen Finley in terms of their engagement with queer subcultures.”

"Nicole Eisenman" in the Testudo office

Nicole Eisenman


Nicole Eisenman has been an important artist to me for years. I’ve followed her shows and practice; she has one particular work that depicts a bar in Brooklyn called Metropolitan that Kirby and I frequented when we were younger. I often gravitate towards artists who showcase the queer experience and Nicole’s work engages so profoundly with that subject.
John Dennehy

“With a body of work that explores a broad spectrum of subjects—from lesbianism and feminism to contemporary politics and the natural world—Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965) challenges convention and encourages viewers to construe meanings from images that demand interrogation and debate. Illustrating paintings spanning the early 1990s to the present day, Dan Cameron unpacks the complexities of Eisenman's oeuvre via thematic chapters that address key ideas which emerge when drawing specific works together. As such, this first major account of Eisenman's painting career presents a clear analysis of the primary motivators that have fuelled the imagination of one of the most interesting and original contemporary artists working today.”

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