Author: bobsennett (page 1 of 2)

Gowan’s Art Guides

The Fine Arts Library recently augmented its collection of turn-of-the-century penny pamphlets on selected European painters called ‘Gowan’s Art Books’. These little books – 16mos, actually, ca.25 pages – cost a shilling at the time (around five cents) and were intended to serve as school texts. They were published in Edinburgh and London (and, eventually, Brussels and Lausanne, in French by the father and son team of William B. and Adam Luke Gowans. Despite their plebian intent, these volumes are actually quite charming, with decorated paper covers and photographic reproductions of the paintings by some of the best photographers of the time, such as Thomas Annan and Fritz Hanfstaegel.

These guides came to us from the estate of Henry Edwards Scott, Harvard Class of 1922, who did graduate work in art history at the Fogg and was professor of fine arts at the University of Pittsburgh, Amherst College, and the University of Missouri.

Rosenberg Gallery Catalogues added

The Fine Arts library recently purchased two rare exhibition catalogues from Paul Rosenberg’s gallery in Paris.  Les grandes influences au dix-neuvieme siècle, published in 1925, is one of the earliest of Rosenberg’s documented shows.  Exposition d’oeuvres recentes de Henri-Matisse, is from 1936. Rosenberg was Matisse’s dealer and an early champion; this illustrated catalogue is a valuable addition our holdings of the bibliography on this artist.

Paul Rosenberg (1881-1959) opened his gallery on the Rue La Boetie in 1911. He moved to New York in 1940, and Paul Rosenberg & Co. continued to operate after his death. Rosenberg’s papers are in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Fine Arts Library now owns over three dozen of the galleries’ publications.

Spanish costume book

The library recently acquired a rare 19th century imprint: Costumbres y trajes de la edad media Cristiana y del renacimiento  (Barcelona : Libreria de Joaquin Verdaguer, 1852-1854). The book contains historical and descriptive essays and thirty-four hand-painted engravings of various figures in Western European medieval costume, such as this image of jousting knights. As was the custom at the time, the plates appear to have been created by various artists, some French and some Spanish, and assembled from different sources and then colored for the press. Verdaguer’s interests were apparently wide; his other contemporary titles include books on Chinese landscapes and calligraphy. This is one of the only three copies found in North America.

Listen, listen : a new artist’s book

The Fine Arts Library has just purchased a copy of the limited edition Listen, listen : Adadam Agofomma : honoring the legacy of Koo Nimo produced by the book artist Mary Hark as a tribute to a Ghanaian musician. Listen, listen is a visual interpretation of  Nimo’s ‘palmwine music’. Hark uses native materials such as maize, plantain leaves, and papyrus to make the paper which is printed in a letterpress studio in Minnesota and finally bound in her own studio in Madison, Wisconsin.  The book incorporates recordings as well as prints by Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami.

‘Listen, listen’ fits into the library’s mission to collect a variety of artists’ books. Our artists’ books collection features personal, cultural, and political statements made by international artists working in a book or book-like format. For more information on this collection, look here:

Listen, listen fits into the library’s mission to collect a variety of artists’ books. Our artists’ books collection features personal, cultural, and political statements made by international artists working in a book or book-like form.

Russian Modernist Journal

In 2003, the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow commissioned a facsimile reprint of the single issue of the early Russian modernist journal ‘Unovis’. This journal, organized by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich and produced in 1920 by the staff and students of the Vitebsk Art School, is one of the principal forms of documentation of the art movement of the same name that flourished in Moscow from 1919 to 1922.

This facsimile edition also includes a book of essays on the movement and its makers (in Russian) and a reproduction of a full-color poster.


Exhibition Catalog as Artist’s Book

Byars catalogue

Here are photographs of the unassuming and enigmatic interior of a recently acquired 1977 James Lee Byars catalogue, issued to accompany an exhibition at the Städtisches Museum Mönchengladbach in Germany.  A gold box contains a sheet of crumpled black tissue paper with “TH FI TO IN PH” printed in gold, short for ’THe FIrst TOtally INterrogativ PHilosophy’.  Johannes Cladders’ essay is printed inside the box.

Byars’ object is merely the latest addition to our collection of over a dozen Mönchengladbach catalogs edited or assembled by Cladders in the 1970s and issued in challenging formats such as boxes, scrolls, and portable cases and featuring the work of iconic conceptual artists like Marcel Broodthaers, Giulio Paolini, Daniel Buren, and Jannis Kounellis.

Surrealist newsletter acquired

The Fine Arts Library recently purchased a set of four issues of 14, rue du Dragon, the short-lived newsletter of the Cahiers d’Art. The title came from the address of the larger journal’s offices, located
in Saint Germain-des-Pres and just around the corner from the Café des Deux Magots, a popular hang-out in the thirties for the Surrealists and their literary friends.

We have four of the five issues that were published in  the spring of 1933 (a fifth issue, and an index, were published in 1935). Each issue is an octavo, folded from one sheet, and includes two inserts – one sheet of advertisements for local cultural businesses and a pink flier touting the Cahiers. The texts are generally reviews of films and theatre, excerpts from novels, poems, and notices of gallery shows, plus at least one large black and white photograph of a work of art produced by one of the Surrealists or French Modernists.

Analytical art

Who knew, in the summer of 1971, that the newest hotbed of art theory would be born, and grow up, in the villages of Chipping Norton and Leamington Spa and the industrial city of Coventry, twenty miles apart from each other and over one hundred miles northwest of London, the supposed center of British contemporary art? For it was there that David Rushton and Philip Pilkington – first-year students in the Fine Arts course at the Faculty of Art & Design, Lancaster Polytechnic – published the two (and only) issues of Analytical Art, rare copies of which have just now entered the Fine Arts Library collection.

Rushton and Pilkington quickly dissolved their work into the larger mission of ‘Art & Language’ group. (The entire text of the introduction to the last issue of the journal is: This is the final issue of Analytical Art. The editors will subsequently be publishing in Art & Language). Together with Terry Atkinson and most especially Charles Harrison they went on to make the discussion of conceptual art central to the critical dialogue of the seventies.


On The ‘Radar”

William Burroughs, photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe (1982)


The Fine Arts Library has recently acquired a complete, boxed set of the art journal RADAR, which was published in Switzerland between 1982 and 1988. This German language publication highlights the contemporary art scene in Europe and beyond; each issue includes an original photograph. In addition to this Mapplethorpe, this set features work by Gerard Malanga, Victor Bokris, and others.

To learn more about this title, please see this link:|libra…

“Radar” can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room of the library.


New York Art Book Fair

Burk Uzzle. A family named spot. New York : Five Ties, 2010.

Late last fall, I attended the New York Art Book Fair, sponsored by Printed Matter, a New York-based artists’ book cooperative. The fair featured over 150 artists and publishers and I thought it would provide an excellent opportunity to meet with people that my usual virtual contacts wouldn’t reach, and I was right. By the end of the fair, I had uncovered dozens of new artists and companies whose work deserved to be represented in our collection, like these charming examples.

We bought the work of numerous other artists in attendance; books by T.E. Ericsson, Joseph Grigley, and Michalis Pichler, among others, can now be found in the Fine Arts Library collection.

Jason Polan, The every piece of art in the Museum of Modern Art book. New York : self-published, 2009.

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