Friday, December 17, 2010

20% Off 285 Selected Books!

It was 13 degrees this morning- that's not a temperature, that's a football score. To keep themselves warm before the coffee kicked in this morning the Book Elves got busy and marked down 285 selected books from our stock by 20%. You can see them, and pictures, here at our Ebay store->

If you see something you want you don't have to order thru Ebay, you can also call or email us, and we'll put it aside for you.

All right, now I have to go peel three Book Elves off the radiator.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our New Winter Catalog!

Ah, Christmastime in New England! And what better way to celebrate the holidays (thought the Book Elves), than to set up a traditional Nativity Scene on the front lawn! What better way indeed? No problem- except the Book Elves are not into plastic, made-in-China stuff from Wal*Mart. Oh no- they’re into bigger, more inventive, more, um… “realistic” projects.

And we all know what that means, don’t we? Yes, it’s time double-check that our lawyer & the Fire Dept. are on speed-dial.

But before the Book Elves started answering angry questions from the DPW about the three dumptruck-loads of sand that disappeared from their facility last Thursday night, and from the Springfield zoo about their missing camels, and from the SPCA about the possible use of duct tape to keep the sheep from wandering away, and from the TSA about the three odd men in flowing robes and turbans who were detained at Logan Airport, they finished our latest catalog-

Books on the Fine and Decorative Arts,
Antiques, Design & related subjects

is now ready for viewing!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo

July 6, 1907 - Frida Kahlo, Mexican Realist, Symbolist, and Surrealist painter, was born. "Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón) was a Mexican painter, and a communist born in Coyoacán. She painted "pain and passion" using intense, vibrant colors. Her style "close to folk art" was influenced among others by indigenous cultures of Mexico, European Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Many of her works are self-portraits. Kahlo was married to Mexican muralist and communist Diego Rivera."

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Robert Adam & John Singleton Copley


July 3, 1728 – Robert Adam, Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer, was born in Kircaldy. "Robert Adam was the son of William Adam, Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him. With his older brother John, Robert took on the family business, which included lucrative work for the Board of Ordnance, after William's death. In 1754 he left for Rome, spending nearly five years on the continent studying architecture under Charles-Louis Clérisseau and Giovanni Battista Piranesi. On his return to Britain he established a practice in London, where he was joined by his younger brother James. Here he developed the "Adam Style", and his theory of "movement" in architecture, based on his studies of antiquity and became one of the most successful and fashionable architects in the country. Adam held the post of Architect of the Kings Works from 1761 to 1769. Robert Adam was leader of the first phase of the classical revival in England and Scotland from around 1760 until his death. He influenced the development of Western architecture, both in Europe and in North America. Adam was not content with providing houses for his clients but very ready to design the fittings and accessories as well."

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July 3, 1738 – Colonial portraitist John Singleton Copley was born. "John Singleton Copley (1738[1] – 1815) was an American painter, born presumably in Boston, Massachusetts and a son of Richard and Mary Singleton Copley, both Irish. He is famous for his portrait paintings of important figures in colonial New England, depicting in particular middle-class subjects. His paintings were innovative in their tendency to depict artifacts relating to these individuals' lives. According to art historian Paul Staiti, Copley was the greatest and most influential painter in colonial America, producing about 350 works of art. With his startling likenesses of persons and things, he came to define a realist art tradition in America. His visual legacy extended throughout the nineteenth century in the American taste for the work of artists as diverse as Fitz Henry Lane and William Harnett. In Britain, while he continued to paint portraits for the élite, his great achievement was the development of contemporary history painting, which was a combination of reportage, idealism, and theatre. He was also one of the pioneers of the private exhibition, orchestrating shows and marketing prints of his own work to mass audiences that might otherwise attend exhibitions only at the Royal Academy, or who previously had not gone to exhibitions at all. Boston's Copley Square, Copley Square Hotel and Copley Plaza bear his name."

Copley's portrait of silversmith Paul Revere

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Wreck of the Medusa

July 2, 1816: The French frigate Medusa grounds and subsequently begins to break up –the ensuing tragedy became the subject of Gericault's famous painting "Raft of the Medusa".

"The Raft of the Medusa is an oil painting of 1818–1819 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Completed when the artist was just 27, the work has become an icon of French Romanticism. It is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, which ran aground off the coast of today's Mauritania on July 2, 1816. At least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation, dehydration, cannibalism and madness. The event became an international scandal, in part because its cause was widely attributed to the incompetence of the French captain acting under the authority of the recently restored French monarchy."

"In choosing the tragedy as subject matter for his first major work—an uncommissioned depiction of an event from recent history—Géricault consciously selected a well-known incident that would generate great public interest and help launch his career. The event fascinated the young artist, and before he began work on the final painting, he undertook extensive research and produced many preparatory sketches. He interviewed two of the survivors, and constructed a detailed scale model of the raft. His efforts took him to morgues and hospitals where he could view, first-hand, the colour and texture of the flesh of the dying and dead. As the artist had anticipated, the painting proved highly controversial at its first appearance in the 1819 Paris Salon, attracting passionate praise and condemnation in equal measure. However, it established his international reputation, and today is widely seen as seminal in the early history of the Romantic movement in French painting."

"Although The Raft of the Medusa retains elements of the traditions of history painting, in both its choice of subject matter and its dramatic presentation, it represents a break from the calm and order of the then-prevailing Neoclassical school. Géricault's work attracted wide attention almost immediately from its first showing, and was subsequently exhibited in London. It was acquired by the Louvre soon after the artist's early death at the age of 32. The painting's influence can be seen in the works of Eugène Delacroix, J. M. W. Turner, Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet.

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July 2, 1864: Legislation to create National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building, is passed. The Hall, one of the earliest examples of Neoclassical architecture in America, contains statues of important Americans, contributed by all 50 states.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Salvador Dali Dives for Surrealism & Almost Doesn't Return-


July 1, 1936: During The International Surrealist Exhibition in London, Salvador Dali attempts to give the lecture 'Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques' while wearing a deep-sea diving suit, but almost suffocates and has to be rescued by the young poet, David Gascoyne, who arrives with a hammer in the nick of time. In his 1942 autobiography Dali recounted the adventure-

“Lord Berners was in charge of renting the diving suit in question, and over the telephone they asked him to specify exactly to what depth Mr Dali wished to descend. Lord Berners replied that I was going to descend to the subconscious, after which I would immediately come up again. With equal seriousness the voice answered that in this case they would replace the helmet with a special one.”

“I got into the diving suit, and the mechanic from the diving-suit establishment bolted my helmet on tight. The diving suit had extremely heavy lead shoes which I could barely lift. I therefore had to walk very slowly, leaning on friends who helped to move me, as though I were completely paralysed, and thus I appeared before the audience holding two luxurious white Russian wolfhounds on a leash.

“My apparition in a diving suit must have had a very anguishing effect, for a great silence fell over the audience. My assistants managed to get me to my seat behind the microphone. It was only at this moment that I realised that it would be impossible for me to deliver my speech through the glass window of my helmet. Moreover, I had been shut up in this thing for 10 minutes and became heated from the exertions I had made in walking across the stage to reach my chair, so that I was dripping with perspiration, and felt faint and on the point of suffocating.

“I made the most energetic gestures I could to have the helmet of my diving suit removed. Gala and Edward James, immediately understanding my painful situation, came running to take off my helmet. But it was solidly bolted on, and there was nothing to be done, for the worker who had put it on me had disappeared. They tried to open a slit between the helmet and the suit with a billiard cue so that I would be able to breathe. Finally they brought a hammer and began to strike the bolts energetically to make them turn. At each blow I thought I would faint.

“The audience for the most part was convinced that all this was part of the show, and was loudly applauding, extremely amused at the pantomime that we were playing so realistically. When I at last got out of the diving suit everyone was impressed by my really deathly pallour, which constituted the accurate gauge of that Dalinian dramatic element which never fails to attend my most trivial acts and undertakings.”

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There is, of course, no video of this, so I had to make do with this Dali-esque moment-

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Take a Sleigh Ride with the Greek Slaves to the Globe Theatre!


- Adding the Personal to the Purely Sacred: "Illuminations of sacred and ritualistic texts are forms of eruptions. Out of familiar and formulaic script leap the strange and extravagant. Rigorous textual arguments give way to decorative ornamentation. Formulaic words submit to a rich brocade of image. Go to the Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History and you can begin to see how this urge to illuminate text helped shape the Jewish tradition. An exhibition there, “A Journey Through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books,” has extended its stay until Aug. 1; it will then travel to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem..." read more

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June 29, 1613: The Globe Theatre in London, England burns to the ground. "The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare. The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre. On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry the Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. It was rebuilt in the following year."

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June 29, 1805: Hiram Powers, American sculptor, was born. "The son of a farmer, Powers was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on the July 29, 1805. In 1826 he began to frequent the studio of Frederick Eckstein, and at once conceived a strong passion for the art of sculpture. In 1837 he settled in Florence, where he remained till his death, though he did travel to England during this time. He developed a thriving business in portraiture and "fancy" parlor busts, but he also devoted his time to creating life-size, full-figure ideal subjects. In 1843 he produced his celebrated statue The Greek Slave, which at once gave him a place among the leading sculptors of his time. It was exhibited at the centre of the Crystal Palace Exhibition and Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a sonnet on it. The sculpture The Greek Slave became an abolitionist cause and copies of it appeared in many Union-supporting state houses."

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June 29, 1908: Leroy Anderson, American composer, was born. "Leroy Anderson (June 29, 1908 – May 18, 1975) was an American composer of short, light concert pieces, many of which were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fiedler. John Williams described him as "one of the great American masters of light orchestral music." His pieces and his recordings during the fifties conducting a studio orchestra were immense commercial successes. "Blue Tango" was the first instrumental recording ever to sell one million copies. His most famous pieces are probably "Sleigh Ride" and "The Syncopated Clock", both of which are instantly recognizable to millions of people. Anderson's musical style, heavily influenced by George Gershwin and folk music of various lands, employs creative instrumental effects and occasionally makes use of sound-generating items such as typewriters and sandpaper. Anderson would occasionally appear on the Boston Pops regular concerts on PBS to conduct his own music while Fiedler would sit on the sidelines. For "The Typewriter" Fiedler would don a green eyeshade, roll up his sleeves, and mime working on an old typewriter while the orchestra played."

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Did Rubens Sing Along with Richard Rodgers?


- A glimpse from dawn of photography- Peabody Essex Museum brings to light image possibly taken by pioneer of camera: "In a dark corner of a back room at the Peabody Essex Museum, the curator stumbled upon a faded shoebox. Inside was a small treasure wrapped in paper: a gold-framed daguerreotype showing a Parisian street scene. On the back, somebody had written the date of its origin: 1839, the dawn of photography..." read more

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June 28, 1577: Peter Paul Rubens, painter, was born. "Sir Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the term 'Rubenesque' for plus-sized women. In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp which produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically-educated humanist scholar, art collector, and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England."

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June 28, 1902: American composer Richard Rodgers was born. "Richard Charles Rodgers (June 28, 1902 – December 30, 1979) was an American composer of music for more than 900 songs and for 43 Broadway musicals. He also composed music for films and television. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. His compositions have had a significant impact on popular music down to the present day, and have an enduring broad appeal. Rodgers is one of only two persons to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (known collectively as an EGOT), and a Pulitzer Prize (Marvin Hamlisch is the other)."

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bernard Berenson & Peter Lorre LOVE New York-


- Antiques Beach Reading (Yes, That’s Right): "When told with enough four-letter words and forensic research, the back stories of antiques can make for the kind of nonfiction thrillers that publishers save up for summer release. One of this year’s page turners, David Howard’s “Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), tracks the covert travels of North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights. Mr. Howard, an editor at Bicycling magazine, explains that, in 1789, a state clerk tucked the document into the files, where it stayed until a Union soldier looted the place in 1865...." read more-

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June 26, 1865 - Bernard Berenson, American art historian specializing in the Renaissance, was born. "Among US collectors of the early 1900s, Berenson was regarded as the pre-eminent authority on Renaissance art. His verdict of authenticity increased a painting's value. While his approach remained controversial among European art historians and connoisseurs, he played a pivotal role as an advisor to several important American art collectors, such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, who needed help in navigating the complex and treacherous market of newly fashionable Renaissance art. In this respect Berenson's influence was enormous, while his 5% commission made him a wealthy man.

Through a secret agreement in 1912, Berenson enjoyed a close relationship with Joseph Duveen, the period's most influential art dealer, who often relied heavily on Berenson's opinion to complete sales of works to prominent collectors who lacked knowledge of the field. Berenson was quiet and deliberating by nature, which sometimes caused friction between him and the boisterous Duveen. Their relationship ended on bad terms in 1937 after a dispute over a painting, the Allendale Nativity (a.k.a. the Adoration of the Shepherds now at the National Gallery in Washington), intended for the collection of Samuel H. Kress. Duveen was selling it as a Giorgione, but Berenson believed it to be an early Titian. The painting is now widely considered to be a Giorgione. Beside assisting Duveen, Berenson also consulted for other important art dealerships, such as London's Colnaghi and, after his breakup with Duveen, New York's Wildenstein.

As Renaissance scholarship has evolved, a number of Berenson's attributions are now believed to be incorrect. There is also ongoing speculation as to whether some of these misattributions were deliberate, since Berenson often had a considerable financial stake in the matter. Due to the strong subjective element in connoisseurship, such accusations remain hard to either disprove or substantiate."

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June 26, 1904: Actor Peter Lorre was born. "Peter Lorre (26 June 1904 – 23 March 1964) was an Austrian-American actor frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner. He caused an international sensation in 1931 with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M. Later he became a popular featured player in Hollywood crime films and mysteries, notably alongside Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet, and as the star of the successful Mr. Moto detective series.

Lorre was born as László Löwenstein into a Jewish family in Austria-Hungary. He began acting on stage in Vienna at the age of 17, where he worked with Richard Teschner, then moved to Breslau, and Zürich. The German-speaking actor became famous when Fritz Lang cast him as a child killer in his 1931 film M. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Lorre took refuge first in Paris and then London where he was noticed by Ivor Montagu, Alfred Hitchcock's associate producer for The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), who reminded the director about Lorre's performance in M.

Eventually, Lorre went to Hollywood where he specialized in playing wicked or wily foreigners, beginning with Mad Love (1935), directed by Karl Freund. He starred in a series of Mr. Moto movies, a parallel to the better known Charlie Chan series, in which he played a Japanese detective and spy created by John P. Marquand. He did not much enjoy these films — and twisted his shoulder during a stunt in Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation — but they were lucrative for the studio and gained Lorre many new fans. In 1940, Lorre co-starred with fellow horror actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the Kay Kyser movie You'll Find Out. Lorre enjoyed considerable popularity as a featured player in Warner Bros. suspense and adventure films. Lorre played the role of Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and portrayed the character Ugarte in the film classic Casablanca (1942). Lorre demonstrated a gift for comedy in the role of Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (filmed in 1941, released 1944). In 1946 he starred with Sydney Greenstreet and Geraldine Fitzgerald in Three Strangers, a suspense film about three people who are joint partners on a winning lottery ticket.

A story is told that in 1956, both Lorre and Vincent Price attended Bela Lugosi's funeral. According to Price, Lorre asked him "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?"

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June 26, 1929: Graphic designer Milton Glaser was born. "Milton Glaser (born June 26, 1929 in New York City) is a graphic designer, best known for the I Love New York logo,] his "Bob Dylan" poster, the "DC bullet" logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the "Brooklyn Brewery" logo. He also founded New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968.

In 1954 Glaser was a founder, and president, of Push Pin Studios formed with several of his Cooper Union classmates. Glaser's work is characterized by directness, simplicity and originality. He uses any medium or style to solve the problem at hand. His style ranges wildly from primitive to avant garde in his countless book jackets, album covers, advertisements and direct mail pieces and magazine illustrations. He started his own studio, Milton Glaser, Inc, in 1974. This led to his involvement with an increasingly wide diversity of projects, ranging from the design of New York Magazine, of which he was a co-founder, to a 600 foot mural for the Federal Office Building in Indianapolis.

Throughout his career he has had a major impact on contemporary illustration and design. His work has won numerous awards from Art Directors Clubs, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators and the Type Directors Club. In 1979 he was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and his work is included in the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Israel Museum and the Musee de l'affiche in Paris. Glaser has taught at both the School of Visual Arts and at Cooper Union in New York City. In 2009, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama."

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Stanford White Shot; Gaudi, Venturi & Henri Offered as a Lot-


-Shouldn’t a Museum’s Collection Include its Designed Landscapes? "Flush economic times in the past decade resulted in ambitious museum expansions and expansion plans, while the recent economic downturn has led to the downscaling of some plans and a pause for others. This hiatus [is] an opportunity for expansion-minded institutions to engage in a more holistic reevaluation of their proposed building and site expansion programs; one that would result in built work in which curatorial values previously placed solely on architecture and collections would be extended to include landscape..." Read more...

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June 25, 1852: Antoni(o) Gaudí, architect, was born. "Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet, often referred to by the Spanish translation of his name, Antonio Gaudí, was a Spanish Catalan architect who was famous for his unique and highly individualistic designs. Gaudí's first works were designed in the style of gothic architecture and traditional Catalan architectural modes, but he soon developed his own distinct sculptural style. French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who promoted an evolved form of gothic architecture, proved a major influence on Gaudí. The student went on to contrive highly original designs – irregular and fantastically intricate. Some of his greatest works, most notably La Sagrada Família, have an almost hallucinatory power."

"Gaudí's originality was at first ridiculed by his peers. Indeed, he was first only supported by the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell. His fellow citizens referred to the Casa Milà as La Pedrera ("the quarry"), and George Orwell, who stayed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, admittedly loathed his work. As time passed, though, his work became more famous. He stands as one of history's most original architects. Gaudí, among others, promoted the Catalan movement for regaining sovereignty from Spain by incorporating elements of Catalan culture in his designs. Gaudí was involved in politics since he supported the Catalanist political party Regionalist League. For example, in 1924 Spanish authorities (ruled by the dictator Primo de Rivera) closed Barcelona's churches in order to prevent a nationalist celebration (11 September, National Day of Catalonia), Gaudí attended to Saints Justus and Pastor's church and was arrested by the Spanish police for answering in Catalan."

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June 25, 1865: American painter Robert Henri was born. Henri (born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio) "began teaching at the New York School of Art in 1902, where his students included Joseph Stella, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, George Bellows, and Stuart Davis. In 1906, he was elected to the National Academy of Design, but when painters in his circle were rejected for the Academy's 1907 exhibition, he accused fellow jurors of bias and walked off the jury, resolving to organize a show of his own. He would later refer to the Academy as "a cemetery of art." In February 1908, Henri organized a landmark show entitled "The Eight" (after the eight painters displaying their works) at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Besides his own works and those produced by the "Philadelphia Four" (who had followed Henri to New York by this time), there were paintings by Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and Arthur B. Davies."

"These painters and this exhibition would become associated with the Ashcan School, although the content of the show was diverse and that term was not coined until 1934. Henri was at the heart of the group who led the depiction of the tough, exuberant city. Having spurned academic painting and Impressionism as an art of mere surfaces, Henri wanted art to be akin to journalism, and, 'for paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horseshit and snow that froze on Broadway in the winter.' Looking at Henri's Salome of 1909 the critic Robert Hughes observed: " Her long legs thrust out with strutting sexual arrogance, and glint through the over-brushed back veil. It has far more oomph than hundreds of virginal, genteel muses, painted by American academics. He has given it urgency with slashing brush marks and strong tonal contrasts. He's learned from Winslow Homer, from Édouard Manet, and from the vulgarity of Frans Hals."

"In 1910, Henri organized the Exhibition of Independent Artists, a no-jury, no-prize show modeled after the Salon des Independants in France. Works were hung alphabetically to emphasize the egalitarian philosophy. Henri admired anarchist and Mother Earth publisher Emma Goldman, and taught from 1911 at the Modern School. Goldman, who later sat for a portrait by Henri, described him as "an anarchist in his conception of art and its relation to life." From 1915 to 1927 he was a popular and influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York. His ideas on art were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (Philadelphia, 1923). Henri's other students include George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. In the spring of 1929 Henri was chosen as one of the top three living American artists by the Arts Council of New York."

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June 25, 1906 – Beaux-Arts architect Stanford White, partner in McKim, Mead and White and designer of townhouses and mansions for the rich and very-rich, was shot to death while dining at Madison Square Garden (which he had designed) by Harry Thaw, the drug-addled & jealous husband of Evelyn Nesbit, actress, chorus girl and one the most famous models for Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girls".

"During the suggestive chorus song, "I Could Love a Million Girls," at the premiere performance of the musical revue Mam'zelle Champagne at the Madison Square Roof Garden, Stanford White was shot point blank in the face and killed by Harry Kendall Thaw. Thaw was the mentally-unstable millionaire husband of Evelyn, with whom White had had a sexual relationship many years before she had met Thaw. William Randolph Hearst's newspapers sensationalized the murder, and it became known as the Trial of the Century. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, the second, a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity."

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June 25, 1925: Architect Robert Venturi was born. "Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. (born June 25, 1925 in Philadelphia) is an American architect and founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, are regarded among the most influential architects of the twentieth century, both through their architecture and planning, and theoretical writings and teaching. Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1991. He is also known for coining the maxim "Less is a bore" as antidote to Mies van der Rohe's famous modernist dictum "Less is more".

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

You MUST Sit Down in a Rietveld Chair to View Picasso's First Paris Exhibition-

- Michelangelo hid anatomical sketches in Sistine Chapel in Church attack: "Michelangelo concealed anatomical sketches in the robes and faces of the figures he painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in a coded attack on the Church's disdain for science, researchers believe... read more-

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June 24, 1888: Dutch architect & designer Gerrit Rietveld was born. "One of the principal members of the Dutch artistic movement called De Stijl, Rietveld is famous for his Red and Blue Chair and for the Rietveld Schröder House, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rietveld was the son of a joiner and began work as an apprentice to his father. He afterwards set up in business as a cabinet-maker. Rietveld designed his famous Red and Blue Chair in 1917. In 1918, he started his own furniture factory, and changed the chair's colors after becoming influenced by the 'De Stijl' movement, of which he became a member in 1919, the same year in which he became an architect. He designed his first building, the Rietveld Schröder House, in 1924, in close collaboration with the owner Truus Schröder-Schräder. Built in Utrecht on the Prins Hendriklaan 50, the house has a conventional ground floor, but is radical on the top floor, lacking fixed walls but instead relying on sliding walls to create and change living spaces. The design seems like a three-dimensional realization of a Mondrian painting. Rietveld broke with the 'De Stijl' in 1928 and became associated with a more functionalist style of architecture known as either Nieuwe Zakelijkheid or Nieuwe Bouwen. The same year he joined the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne. He designed the "Zig-Zag" chair in 1934 and started the design of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which was finished after his death. He built hundreds of homes, many of which in the city of Utrecht. His work was neglected when rationalism came into vogue but he later benefited from a revival of the style of the 1920s thirty years later."

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June 24, 1901: 19 year old Pablo Picasso’s first Parisian art exhibition opened at the Vollard Gallery. "Like his friendship with Renoir, Vollard’s relationship with Picasso was one long-lived. It began in 1901 when the artist was nineteen. Vollard gave Picasso his first show (along with paintings by Francisco Iturrino) in Paris in 1901. Vollard did not think the exhibition was a success, but in fact many works did sell at low prices. Vollard purchased several important pieces from Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods in 1906, once American expatriate collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein began collecting the artist's works. In 1910, as Picasso’s Cubism developed into near abstraction, Vollard mounted a retrospective of his works from the previous decade, emphasizing his earlier periods. As Picasso’s reputation grew, Vollard continued to make regular purchases from the artist but never offered him a contract. Beginning in 1909, as Picasso sought to find a primary dealer, he painted portraits of leading candidates, such as Ambroise Vollard. Vollard called this portrait “notable” but nevertheless sold it to a Russian collector three years later. In the 1920s and 1930s, Vollard commissioned several livres d’artiste from Picasso. Through Vollard’s publications of bronzes, engravings, and illustrated books, Picasso became better known in Europe and the United States. Above all, it was the association, made possible through Vollard, of Picasso’s art with Cézanne’s that cemented Picasso’s reputation in the early 20th century." (from the catalog Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde, Art Institute of Chicago, 2007).

Ambroise Vollard by Pablo Picasso

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“Gebogenes Holz. Konstruktive Entwurfe Wien 1840-1910”

Published by the Kunstlerhaus Wien in 1979.

Modernism in chair design- the catalog to an exhibition of chairs by Michael Thonet, Adolf Loos, Otto Wagner, Kolo Moser, Josef Hoffman, Gustav Siegel, Josef Urban, Fritz Nagel, Marcel Kammerer and Anton Lorenz. German text.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Judging a Book by Its Cover at the American Folk Art Museum-


- Who Says You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover? : Well... we do. Take a pile of 1950s pulp paperbacks and a pair of sharp scissors, and it's very surprising what secrets are revealed... see more!

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June 23, 1961: The American Folk Art Museum is founded, with galleries in a rented townhouse at 49 West 53rd Street. The Museum opened to the public on December 11, 2001. "The 30,000-square-foot structure, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects LLP, is clad in sixty-three panels of lightly textured tombasil, a white bronze alloy. The eight-level, 85-foot tall structure is capped by a skylight above a grand interior stair connecting the third and the fourth floors, with dramatic cut-throughs at each floor to allow natural light to filter into the galleries and through to the lower levels. As a result, dramatic interior spaces are animated by a wash of light, enhancing the experience of the visitor."

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“Encyclopedia of American Folk Art”
Edited by Gerard C. Wertkin.
Published in New York by Routledge in 2004.

“This is the first comprehensive, scholarly study of a most fascinating aspect of American history and culture. Generously illustrated with both black and white and full-color photos, this A-Z encyclopedia covers every aspect of American folk art, encompassing not only painting, but also sculpture, basketry, ceramics, quilts, furniture, toys, beadwork, and more, including both famous and lesser-known genres. Containing more than 600 articles, this unique reference considers individual artists, schools, artistic, ethnic, and religious traditions, and heroes who have inspired folk art. An incomparable resource for general readers, students, and specialists, it will become essential for anyone researching American art, culture, and social history.”


Monday, June 21, 2010

Henry Tanner, Rockwell Kent & Al Hirschfeld-


June 21, 1859: Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American painter to gain international acclaim, was born. "In 1879 Tanner enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The young artist proved to be one of Thomas Eakins’s favorite students; two decades after Tanner left the Academy Eakins painted his portrait, making him one of a handful of students to be so honored. At the Academy Tanner befriended artists with whom he would keep in contact throughout the rest of his life, most notable of these being Robert Henri, one of the founders of the Ashcan School. Tanner is often regarded as a realist painter. While his early works, such as "The Banjo Lesson" were concerned with everyday life as an African American, Tanner's later paintings focused mainly on the religious subjects for which he is now best known. Tanner's body of work is not limited to one specific approach to painting. His works vary from meticulous attention to detail in some paintings to loose, expressive brushstrokes in others. Often both methods are employed simultaneously. The combination of these two techniques makes for a masterful balance of skillful precision and powerful expression. Tanner was also interested in the effects that color could have in a painting.

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June 21, 1882: Rockwell Kent, American artist & illustrator, was born. "Kent lived much of his early life in and around New York City, and moved in his mid-40s to an Adirondack farmstead that he called Asgaard where he lived and painted until his death. Kent studied with the influential painters and theorists of his day, including Arthur Wesley Dow, William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Abbott Thayer. Approached in 1926 by publisher R. R. Donnelley to produce an illustrated edition of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.'s Two Years Before the Mast, Kent suggested Moby-Dick instead. Published in 1930 by the Lakeside Press of Chicago, the three-volume limited edition filled with Kent's haunting black-and-white pen/brush and ink drawings sold out immediately; Random House produced a trade edition which was also immensely popular. Less well known are Kent's talents as a jazz age humorist. As the gifted pen-and-ink draftsman "Hogarth, Jr.", Kent created a wealth of whimsical and irreverent drawings published by Vanity Fair, New York Tribune, Harper's Weekly, and the original Life. He brought his Hogarth, Jr. style to a series of richly colored reverse paintings on glass which he completed in 1918 and exhibited at Wanamaker's Department Store. (Two of these glass paintings are in the collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, part of the bequest of modernist collector Ferdinand Howald.) Further decorative work ensued intermittently: in 1939, Vernon Kilns reproduced three series of designs drawn by Kent (Moby Dick, Salamina, Our America) on its sets of contemporary china dinnerware.

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June 21, 1903: Al Hirschfeld, American cartoonist, was born. "During Hirschfeld's nearly eight-decade career, he gained fame by illustrating the entire casts of various Broadway plays, which would appear to accompany reviews in The New York Times. Though this was Hirschfeld's best known field of interest he also would draw politicians, TV stars, and celebrities of all stripes from Cole Porter, the Nordstrom Sisters to the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Hirschfeld also caricatured hard rockers Aerosmith for the cover of their 1977 album Draw the Line. He expanded his audience by contributing to Patrick F. McManus' humor column in Outdoor Life magazine for a number of years. Hirschfeld started young and continued drawing to the end of his life, thus chronicling nearly all the major entertainment figures of the 20th Century. Hirschfeld drew some of the original movie posters for Charlie Chaplin's films, as well as The Wizard of Oz."

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Queen Victoria Danced to Offenbach Under Rosa's Skies-


- Pulling Museum Mile Uptown: "After more than a decade pursuing what some saw as an impossible quest Elsie McCabe Thompson is preparing to open the Museum for African Art’s new $95 million home on upper Fifth Avenue next spring. “Maybe I’m just contrary,” she said during an interview this month, “but the more people tell me it can’t be done, the more I want to prove that it can.”... read more-

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June 20, 1615: Salvator Rosa, Italian Baroque painter and etcher, was born. "Salvator Rosa (1615 – March 15, 1673) was an Italian Baroque painter, poet and printmaker, active in Naples, Rome and Florence. Rosa was indisputably a leader in the tendency towards the romantic and picturesque. In general, in landscapes he avoided the idyllic and pastoral calm countrysides of Claude Lorraine and Paul Brill, and created brooding, melancholic fantasies, awash in ruins and brigands. In a time when artists where often highly constrained by patrons, Rosa had a plucky streak of independence, which celebrated the special role of the artist. He wrote- Our wealth must consist in things of the spirit, and in contenting ourselves with sipping, while others gorge themselves in prosperity. He refused to paint on commission or to agree on a price beforehand, and he chose his own subjects."

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June 20, 1819: Jacques Offenbach, composer & musician, was born. "A German-born French composer and cellist of the Romantic era, Offenbach was one of the originators of the operetta form and one of the most influential composers of popular music in Europe in the 19th century. Offenbach's numerous operettas, such as Orpheus in the Underworld, and La belle Hélène, were extremely popular in both France and the English-speaking world during the 1850s and 1860s. They combined political and cultural satire with witty grand opera parodies. His popularity in France went down during the 1870s after the Second Empire, and he fled France, but during the last years of his life, his popularity rebounded, and several of his operettas are still performed. While his name remains associated most closely with the French operetta and the Second Empire, it is Offenbach's one fully operatic masterpiece, The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), composed at the end of his career, that has become the most familiar of Offenbach's works in major opera houses."

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June 20, 1837: Victoria is crowned Queen of England. "Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the Queen regnant of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837, and the first Empress of India of the British Raj from 1 May 1876, until her death. Her reign as the Queen lasted 63 years and 7 months, longer than that of any other British monarch before or since, and her reign is the longest of any female monarch in history. The time of her reign is known as the Victorian era, a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military progress within the United Kingdom."

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“Exposed. The Victorian Nude”
Edited by Alison Smith.
Published by Watson-Guptill Publications in 2002.

“This sumptuous and sensual volume focuses primarily on painting, though it does include drawings, sculpture, and early forms of photography and silent film stills. [Alison] Smith, whose Victorian Nude: Sexuality, Morality, and Art provided a broad cultural context of the topic, showcases work by John Singer Sargent, Frederic Leighton, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and others.... The unlikely juxtaposition of Victorian mores with nude imagery provides an alternate sensibility to Victorian England, both enlightening the mind and pleasing the eye. Three richly illustrated essays by Smith, Martin Myrone, and Michael Hyatt frame the work.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thomas Sully Was Born to be a Roycrofter-


June 19, 1783: Thomas Sully, American portrait painter, was born. "Sully became a professional painter at age 18 in 1801. He studied face-painting under Gilbert Stuart in Boston for three weeks and in 1809 he traveled to London for nine months of study under Benjamin West. Sully's 1824 portraits of John Quincy Adams, who became President within the year, and then the Marquis de Lafayette appear to have brought him to the forefront of his day. Many famous Americans of the day had their portraits painted by him. In 1837–1838 he was in London to paint Queen Victoria at the request of Philadelphia's St. George's Society. His daughter Blanche assisted him as the Queen's "stand-in", modeling the Queen's costume when she was not available. Sully's own index indicates that he produced 2631 paintings from 1801, most of which are currently in the United States. His style resembles that of Thomas Lawrence. Though best known as a portrait painter, Sully also made historical pieces and landscapes."

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June 19, 1856: Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycrofters, editor, publisher and author, was born. "Hubbard founded Roycroft, an Arts and Crafts movement community in East Aurora, New York in 1895. This grew from his private press, the Roycroft Press, which was inspired by William Morris's Kelmscott Press. Although called the "Roycroft Press" by latter-day collectors and print historians, the organization called itself "The Roycrofters" and "The Roycroft Shops". Hubbard edited and published two magazines, The Philistine and The Fra. The Philistine was bound in brown butcher paper and full of satire and whimsy. (Hubbard himself quipped that the cover was butcher paper because: "There is meat inside." The Roycrofters produced handsome, if sometimes eccentric, books printed on handmade paper, and operated a fine bindery, a furniture shop, and shops producing modeled leather and hammered copper goods. They were a leading producer of Mission Style products."

"Hubbard's second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, was a graduate of the New Thought-oriented Emerson College of Oratory in Boston and a noted suffragist. The Roycroft Shops became a site for meetings and conventions of radicals, freethinkers, reformers, and suffragists. Hubbard became a popular lecturer, and his homespun philosophy evolved from a loose William Morris-inspired socialism to an ardent defense of free enterprise and American know-how. In 1912, the famed passenger liner the Titanic was sunk after hitting an iceberg. Hubbard subsequently wrote of the disaster, singling out the story of Ida Straus, who as a woman was supposed to be placed on a lifeboat in precedence to the men, but she refused to board the boat: "Not I—I will not leave my husband. All these years we've traveled together, and shall we part now? No, our fate is one." Hubbard then added his own stirring commentary:

"Mr. and Mrs. Straus, I envy you that legacy of love and loyalty left to your children and grandchildren. The calm courage that was yours all your long and useful career was your possession in death. You knew how to do three great things—you knew how to live, how to love and how to die. One thing is sure, there are just two respectable ways to die. One is of old age, and the other is by accident. All disease is indecent. Suicide is atrocious. But to pass out as did Mr. and Mrs. Isador Straus is glorious. Few have such a privilege. Happy lovers, both. In life they were never separated and in death they are not divided."

"On May 1, 1915, little more than three years after the sinking of the Titanic, the Hubbards boarded Lusitania in New York City. On May 7, while at sea, it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. In a letter to Elbert Hubbard II dated 12 March 1916, Ernest C. Cowper, a survivor of this event, wrote:

I can not say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came on to the boat-deck. Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms—the fashion in which they always walked the deck—and stood apparently wondering what to do. I passed him with a baby which I was taking to a lifeboat when he said, 'Well, Jack, they have got us. They are a damn sight worse than I ever thought they were.' They did not move very far away from where they originally stood. As I moved to the other side of the ship, in preparation for a jump when the right moment came, I called to him, 'What are you going to do?' and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, 'There does not seem to be anything to do.' The expression seemed to produce action on the part of your father, for then he did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him. It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.

"The Roycroft Shops, run by Hubbard's son, Elbert Hubbard II, operated until 1938. Owing to his prolific publications, Hubbard was a renowned figure in his day. Contributors to a 360-page book published by Roycrofters and entitled In Memoriam: Elbert and Alice Hubbard included such luminaries as meat-packing magnate J. Ogden Armour, business theorist and Babson College founder Roger Babson, botanist and horticulturalist Luther Burbank, seed-company founder W. Atlee Burpee, ketchup magnate Henry J. Heinz, National Park Service founder Franklin Knight Lane, success writer Orison Swett Marden, inventor of the modern comic strip Richard F. Outcault, poet James Whitcomb Riley, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elihu Root, evangelist Billy Sunday, political leader Booker T. Washington, and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox."

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“A Catalog of the Roycrofters, featuring Metalwork and Lighting Fixtures”
Edited by Peter A. Copeland.
Published by Turn of the Century Editions in 1989.

“This catalog includes handcrafted lamps, leaded glass lighting fixtures, and other metal objects produced by the Roycrofters at the beginning of the last century. Featured are some of the earliest Roycroft forms designed by Dard Hunter and Karl Kipp. The influence of the Wiener Werkstatte can be seen in the clean geometric lines. The book is a compilation of material from The Fra, original trade catalogs, and contemporary photographs of pieces in private collections. Collectors will find this catalog reprint a valuable reference. The book also contains an Introduction by Ray Groll”.


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“Catalog of Roycroft Furniture and other things”

A facsimile reprint of the 1906 Roycroft Furniture catalog, issued by Turn of the Century Editions in 1981.

“Roycroft furniture was not manufactured in large quantities. Nevertheless, it contributed significantly towards the growth of Arts and Crafts design in America. Furniture and other artifacts made by the Roycrofters at their community in East Aurora, New York, are easily identified by the incised orb and cross and/or “Roycroft” name. The 1906 catalog reprinted here depicts a substantial portion of the furniture designs produced under the forceful direction of Elbert Hubbard. The catalog also features some copper and wrought iron accessories.”


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