A WINTER FLURRY OF UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND STUDENT VISITORS AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

All this month the library has been inundated with requests for library orientations and special presentations of rare materials for a wide variety of academic disciplines.
Professor Judith Gura and four students from the New York School of Interior Design were the earliest arrivals this year, and we laid out a variety of materials for them to peruse. One highlight was Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament, an oversized tome illustrating various decorative styles on one hundred folio plates drawn on stone by F. Bedford and printed in color by lithographers Day and Son of London.

83.2.2093_000

Of course the library holds all sorts of materials of interest to interior designers including Julius Klinger’s Le Femme: dans la décoration moderne.

83.2.2099.011

83.2.2099.019

The library collection also includes numerous portfolios of pochoir plates serving as inspiration for wallpaper and upholstery fabric designs in the Art Deco style, including Andre Durenceau’s Inspirations showing 128 of his compositions on 24 plates.

83.2.2103.001

When the professor learned that we had a copy of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Wasmuth portfolio”—a two volume edition printed by Ernst Wasmuth in Berlin, Germany—we obliged by pulling it out from the back stacks. Wright had gotten entangled in an adulterous affair with the wife of a client, but as neither he nor his lover had been able to secure a divorce, the couple decided to abandon their families and spouses and run off to Europe together. The Wasmuth portfolio exposed Europeans to the Prairie Style and established Wright’s reputation on the continent as the preeminent Modernist architect. Although mainly celebrated for his designs for private homes, the portfolio also includes a design for what would have been his largest urban complex, Lexington Terraces, an unrealized housing unit with an interior “green” courtyard proposed for Chicago’s south side.

XC1991.371.007a

XC1991.371.007b

Florida International University professor Bernadine Heller-Greenman also brought students to the library to look at a selection of works by American artists.

DSC00021

DSC00037

The library holds a large collection of books, advertisements, and posters created by Bill Bradley, a prolific illustrator, graphic artist, and book designer. While his earliest work is reminiscent of the style of Aubrey Beardsley, he is most known today for introducing and popularizing the Art Nouveau style in the United States.

XB1991.1440_000

XB1991.1614_000

The students also had the opportunity to see some of the children’s books and sheet music covers illustrated by Mac Harshberger (1900-1975) on which he collaborated with his partner and musical composer Holland Robinson.

XC2009.07.11.3.021

XC2009.07.11.25.002

XC2009.07.11.18.000

XC2009.07.11.27.000

The class also looked over a series of commercial calendars illustrated by Winold Reiss (1886-1953), a German-born American artist renowned for his positive portraits of African and Native Americans in a time when racial stereotyping was the norm. Many of his culturally sensitive portraits of Blackfeet Indians were used by the Great Northern Railway to promote tourist travel to Glacier National Park and the route of the Empire Builder and Oriental Limited.

87.959.19.6.3_000

XB1998.32_000

We had laid out a large number of wood block books, an ancient illustration technique that was revived in the 1930s. When the Great Depression rendered printing press production too expensive, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration Handicraft Project sponsored inexpensive art projects by encouraging schoolchildren to carve discarded or surplus linoleum tiles to make illustrated calendars, portfolios, and books in the classroom.

83.2.989.000

83.2.989.010

Many professional artists also took to carving scrap wood or linoleum blocks to produce illustrated books, graphic novels, and artist monographs.

XB1990.366.063

FIU Professor Tori Arpad-Cotta also brought her installation class to the library where they viewed a number of world’s fair, international exposition, and other materials dealing with the display of art and merchandise. The students had the opportunity to see a variety of materials including the large format color chromolithographic plates of a book from the 1851 “Crystal Palace” exposition in London, England;

XB1990.1125.001

One student was particularly interested in a portfolio of kiosks designed for the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, 1925.

85.2.199_004

85.2.199_006

85.2.199_020

Other materials on display for the class visit included a manual describing the principles and best practices for creating exciting window displays.

XC1995.52_018

XC1995.52_017

Almost as soon as we completed reshelving the items pulled for Professor Arpad-Cotta, Dr. Harsanyi was laying out the tables in the main reading room with a selection of items for the students enrolled in FIU Associate Professor Winifred Elysse Newman’s architectural course, “Space, Society and the Digital.”

DSC00040

After a brief library orientation, Professor Newman guided the students through a pre-selected group of rare library books and ephemera with pull-away flaps that demonstrate the working parts of various industrial arts objects;

83.2.2117.05

The most sophisticated (and popular) of these items is a mechanical work showing the working parts of an automobile engine from 1915, and which is featured in an earlier blog post and Youtube video; a German book with a binding linking the new coal-fired locomotive to a fire-breathing dragon;

TD1989.40.10.000

postcards and advertisements for typewriters;

XB1993.729.000

and even some books on automobile design with transparencies.

XX1990.457.015

A glance at the monthly calendar indicates that we will be hosting a number of other FIU class visits this week and next, so my readers are also liable to be seeing some more of the library collection this month related to architecture and landscape architecture, literature of the Great Depression, graphic design and propaganda.

~ by "The Chief" on January 24, 2013.

One Response to “A WINTER FLURRY OF UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND STUDENT VISITORS AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY”

  1. I am in fact pleased to read this website posts which carries tons of
    valuable facts, thanks for providing these data.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: