There are a number of books written about the history of CalArts, or that highlight the people and programs that have helped define CalArts and its impact on culture. This digital bookshelf was curated as part of our 50th celebration.

Where Art Might Happen: The Early Years by Christina Vegh (editor), Philipp Kaiser (editor), Geraldine Gourbe (contributor), Thomas Lawson (contributor), Annette Jael Lehmann (contributor). From Fluxus to conceptualism and feminism, Where Art Might Happen offers an inside look at how California’s legendary school nurtured a generation of exciting, experimental artists. Available at the CalArts Store for $45.

Failure is What It’s All About: A Life Devoted to Leadership in the Arts by Steven D. Lavine. In personal conversations with Jörn Jacob Rohwer, former CalArts president. Lavine tells his life story for the first time, talking about cultural politics, philanthropy, the avant-garde, and Los Angeles at the center of his life. Available at Amazon.

Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia by Richard Hertz is anchored by Goldstein’s reflections and dramatized by Hertz into first-person narratives of the early days of CalArts and the last days of Chouinard; the New York artworld; the trials and tribulations of finding and maintaining success; his interpersonal relationships; and his disappearance from the art scene. They are complemented by the dramatized first-person narratives of Goldstein’s friends, including John Baldessari, Troy Brauntuch, Rosetta Brooks, Jean Fisher, Robert Longo, Matt Mullican, and James Welling. There are provocative portraits of many well-known personalities of the ’80s, including Mary Boone, David Salle, and Helene Winer, all working at a time when the competitive spirit was strong and often brutal. Available from Amazon.

The Nest, conceived and designed by Scott Massey, focuses on a series of posters created in celebration of the exhibition Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970-2019 and shares Massey’s reflections on the creative process and discovery. Available from Slanted.

A View of CalArts, by Steve Weir includes images made by him as an art student while earning his BFA and MFA degrees from 1970-78 and is dedicated to CalArts faculty member John Bache. Profits from the book are directed to the R. John Bache Memorial Scholarship and it is available for purchase online.

To recommend other books about CalArts, please email the Office of Marketing and Communications at