Robert Longo: TOP TEN BOOKS


Contemporary artist Robert Longo first rose to importance in the 1980s, going on in the ‘90s to direct Keanu Reeves in William Gibson’s sci-fi feature Johnny Mnemonic —not a far leap for Longo, considering the visually cinematic properties of his works, especially the prominent “Men in the Cities” series. Longo has shown his work in retrospective exhibitions at The Menil Collection in Houston, LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and at the Kunstverein and Deichtorhallen in Hamburger.

Below are Robert Longo’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy
Hieronymus Bosch meets Sam Peckinpah. The greatest, most vivid Western in history. Incredibly visual.
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William Gibson
Cyberpunk’s “On the Road,” a “consensual hallucination” of a revolutionary vision of the future. This was my introduction to William Gibson’s work, which then led me to “Johnny Mnemonic.” (As a fan of his, I contacted Gibson because I wanted to make the film “Johnny Mnemonic.”[Ed. note: Longo directed the film.]) Books are like dreams. I was eager to see what a universe like this could look like.
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The Whites

Richard Price
A sociological study disguised as a crime novel, set in New York City. While reading this, I was completely submerged in his words, and this world. I didn’t want it to end. Richard is extraordinary with dialogue. The jigsaw of a narrative is as complex as the city it describes.
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The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien
My draft number was 11. This book made me really appreciate that I didn’t go to Vietnam, and gave me great empathy for veterans.
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The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Malcom X’s words woke me up to the real America. He is incredibly inspiring. It read like a modern Greek myth of a hero’s journey.
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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
The origin of the world. The epitome of timelessness and a lesson in human nature. His stories and characters are profoundly revealing; there is endless depth to them. Intended to be read and reread.
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Moby Dick

Herman Melville
The great American epic. America’s genetic code. I found great inspiration in this book for my work. Melville is our foremost oracle.
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Vladimir Nabokov
This is simply brilliant writing, especially the way in which he makes the reader complicit. Classically painted, pure American perversion.
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Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Joan Didion
Incredible grace, sophistication and power during a time when she thought the world would fall apart. “I am comfortable ... with those who live outside rather than in, those in whom the sense of dread is so acute that they turn to extreme and doomed commitments...”
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The Painted Bird

Jerzy Kosinski
I am dyslexic: this is the first book where reading it helped me to understand the power of literature. It demanded my attention like no other had up to that point in my life. Thematically, I am drawn to reading stories of epic journeys.
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