Photo: Courtesy of Jane Corkin
Toronto Gallerist Jane Corkin is Focused on Photography, but Loves a Good Novel
The Elena Ferrante fan desperately wants to know who is behind the Neopolitan Quartet and invite them to dinner / BY Shinan Govani / November 25th, 2022
Jane Corkin, once dubbed “the first lady of photography” by Maclean’s magazine, has been on the vanguard of the visual arts for decades. Long before the international market for the medium was a given, she was establishing herself as the most successful photography dealer in the country, and one of the most daring in the world. The woman behind the eponymous Jane Corkin Gallery in Toronto, which she founded in 1979, has boasted shows by giants ranging from Richard Avedon to Nan Goldin to Irving Penn. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Corkin cannot live without books. We caught up with the grand gallerista recently to find out what’s on her reading list.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante is beautiful and seductive. There are four sequential novels: My Brilliant Friend; The Story of a New Name; Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay; and The Story of the Lost Child, which I just finished. It is a story about friendships over the course of a lifetime and the power of family. Ferrante finds words to describe a diversity of feelings. The books infiltrated my soul and I’m still thinking about the relationships weeks after.
What book can’t you wait to dive into?
Next in the line-up is The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott and Reluctant Genius by Charlotte Gray. I have long admired Gray for her clear, accurate and sensitive journalism. I’ve been wanting to read her story of Alexander Graham Bell since it was published back in 2006. Now I will.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
One of my favourite books still is Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, which I read in high school. It’s on the long list of re-reads.
What book completely changed your perspective?
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. That also goes back decades, but I remember certain lines that will be with me forever.
If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
I’d like to have dinner with the author whose pseudonym is Elena Ferrante. Why is she hiding?