On Fire


On Fire
by Jonathan Griffin

96 Pages, 6 x 8 1/2 in., perfect-bound
ISBN 978-0-9797575-6-3
Edited by Paper Monument
Designed by Project Projects
Release date: 2/10/16

Artists’ studios have been burning down for centuries. In Paper Monument’s newest publication, On Fire, author Jonathan Griffin asked ten contemporary artists how they recovered after their studios went up in flames. Talking to them, he gained surprising insights into their working methods, their relationship to their chosen profession, and their reasons for making art.

On Fire is at once an oral history of the phenomenon of the studio fire—a catastrophic but potentially transformative event in the lives of a surprising number of artists—and a behind-the-scenes look at daily life in the artist’s studio. As Griffin writes in his introduction, “For each of these artists there was an instant when time spun on its axles, when they realized that the tiny refuge of safety and freedom that they had won for themselves was gone. It would take months and years, resources and resolve to claim it back. But in the process, something unexpected and valuable—career-altering, in many cases—was revealed to them about the stakes and the possible rewards of their lives as artists.”

On Fire includes writing on Matthew Chambers, Anthony Pearson, Christian Cummings, Catherine Howe, Erik Van Lieshout, JP Munro, William J. O’Brien, Kate Ruggeri, John Riepenhoff, and Brendan Fowler.

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Praise for On Fire:

“… an insightful, unusual and strangely gripping take on fire – both tragic and transformative – while Griffin’s prose is lucid, sensitive and informed.”

TANK magazine

“Fires are real, not just mythological, and this brief, frank document about fires in artists’ studios suggests not the slightest hint of transcendent meaning behind such disasters. […] Griffin presents a readable, sober account of a situation that is alarmingly common, especially for painters.”

Ross Simonini, Art in America

On Fire … possesses a remarkable literary tension produced by the dissonance between the mundane particularities of the case studies and the archetypal devastation that every oil-painting student has drilled into them.”

Doug Harvey, Artillery

“Though he narrates his text with taste and sensitivity, it’s difficult to fully avoid a degree of morbid fascination with the stories On Fire tells, a fascination perhaps inherent in the subject.”

Leila Easa, Art Practical

“Griffin’s study is not one about the effects of fire, but of studio practice itself; in elucidating that complex relationship – between the studio and its contents, their loss, and their maker – he untangles familiar patterns as they emerge in each artist’s story.”

Katie Geha, Art Papers