This morning we were happy to host Rosanne Gibel, professor in the Graphic Design & Advertising Department at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, and an enthusiastic group of her students for a tour of our galleries and a presentation of graphic art pulled from the library collection. After showing the students a display of New Deal graphic design as a “case study,” we went on to provide them with highlights from the library collection covering the major artistic and cultural movements of the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries. 

The Christopher DeNoon Collection for the Study of New Deal Culture

We began with a survey of some graphic materials from our collection of books and ephemera designed by William (Bill) Bradley (American, 1868-1962). Bradley’s early work reflected the concerns of the Aesthetic Movement—(exhibiting the stylistic tendencies of “symbolism” and “decadence” made famous by Aubrey Beardsley in England)—while his later work championed the Art Nouveau—an anti-Victorian reaction that equated artistic beauty with nature, and employing curvilinear forms derived from plant life, flowers, and the female figure.


The library also holds important examples of the Art Moderne, or “Art Deco” style—a term stemming from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes world’s fair in Paris, 1925. Here is an example of an “Art Deco” sheet music cover designed by Mac Harshberger (American, 1900-1975), part of a collection donated to The Wolfsonian from the Estate of William Whitney.

The library also had on display for the visitors a number of works illustrative of Russian Constructivist, Italian Futurist, and Czech avant-garde aesthetics. Examples shown to the group included a volume of poetry by Vladimir Mayakovsky (Russian, 1893-1930) in a rare artist’s book designed and illustrated by El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941); ephemeral items, such as postcards with details of paintings by Tato (Italian, 1896-1974); and Surrealist book covers by typographer and book designer Karel Teige (Czech, 1900-1951).


Finally, we finished our library tour with a couple of items pulled from our archive of the work of Herbert Bayer (Austrian, 1900-1985), an important commercial artist who moved from Germany in the 1930s and helped to bring the Bauhaus tradition to the United States.

~ by "The Chief" on November 3, 2010.


  1. Our students always have a great experience at the Wolfsonian and the library is a highlight. There is no substitute for seeing the actual printed piece and this was a great group. Thank you Frank!

  2. This week’s posting (11/20/2011) on my bookplate blog has some additional information about Mac Harshberger

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