47th Annual ARLIS/NA Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 26-30, 2019.
The Decorative Arts SIG will meet Wednesday, March 27 from 12:30-1:20 pm.
Come join us to celebrate the display of Misbehaving Books : Minnesota Artist Books from the Walker Art Center Library. The display features Twin Cities-based artists, Harriet Bart, Vesna Kittelson, and Jody Williams. We will meet August 29 at 6pm – 8pm at the Best Buy Aperture space near the Cargill Lounge. We will then head to Esker Grove for a champagne toast.
The Decorative Arts Special Interest Group will be meeting at the ARLIS/NA national conference in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 27 at 12:30pm in the Vienna room, 3rd Floor. All who are interested in the decorative arts are welcome to attend. Here is the agenda for the meeting:
The Decorative Arts SIG will be hosting a panel on Thursday, March 28th, at the ARLIS/NA 2019 conference in Salt Lake City. This panel, titled “Material Culture in Utah and the West: Insights from Decorative and Fine Arts Objects,” will feature three Utah-area experts who will discuss traditional and non-traditional fine and decorative arts of Utah and the West.
Leslie Anderson of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will explore art of the American West and objects created in other regions in her talk, “Challenging the Canon with the Permanent Collection: American and Regional Art at the UMFA.” Adrienne Decker will discuss the Utah Folk Arts Program, a state program that features a permanent collection of art pieces created by living tradition bearers in her talk, “This is Our Place: Utah’s Traditional Arts Landscape.” Josh Probert, from Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, will examine objects made by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in relationship to the transatlantic world from which they emigrated in his presentation, “Mormon Iconography in the Decorative Arts as a Strategy of Identity during the Nineteenth Century.”
These three dynamic presentations will shed light on how the environs of the West and the historic context of human interaction with this unique region have shaped the artistic output of fine and decorative artists.
We look forward to seeing everyone at the panel on Thursday and in Salt Lake City for the rest of the conference.
Kathy Woodrell and Katie Monroe
by Elizabeth Broman and Parsons Masters Program student Margaret Gaines
This Schmitz-Horning Co. wall decoration catalogue from 1913-1914 is one of the Cooper Hewitt Design Library’s many trade catalogues. Schmitz-Horning Co. opened in 1905 as a wallpaper and mural manufacturing firm in Cleveland, Ohio. The company focused on making large, wallpaper friezes (murals) and was one of the first companies to develop a washable, color wallpaper printed with oils that you cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge.
San-kro-mura, one of the original “sanitary” wall coverings, were easy to clean without their colors fading.
The muted colors and illustrative style of the Arts & Crafts movement period are featured in this color trade catalog from 1912-13. The company produced panoramic views of mountains, deserts, forests, lakes, and scenic narratives of folklore and history. The catalog states they make possible “Art in the Home.”
Wallcoverings for children’s rooms featured the Wizard of Oz, nursery rhymes, and motifs with dolls. The Cooper Hewitt Museum owns 111 pieces from the Schmitz-Horning Co., two of which are from the time period shown in this catalog. The frieze Kindergarten Cut-outs, was in the 2007 exhibition “Wall Stories: Children’s Wallpapers and Books”.
Reprinted from the Cooper Hewitt’s Object of the Day blog, December 17, 2017.
by Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi, Reference Librarian at the Cooper Hewitt Museum Library, New York City.
This photograph of a Rockefeller Center pendant light is one of almost 50,000 photographs and drawings in the Smithsonian Design Library’s Edward F. Caldwell Collection. Caldwell and Company was a premier designer and manufacturer of custom lighting fixtures and fine metalwork from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. This immense visual resource is one of the largest such archives of a single American lighting company.
The firm was founded in 1895 in New York City by Edward F. Caldwell and Victor F. von Lossberg, who met while working at the lighting firm Archer and Pancoast. Caldwell had achieved great success at Archer and Pancoast working on commissions for the architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, that included the New York State Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. He developed a lasting relationship with Stanford White resulting in Caldwell and Company securing numerous commissions, most notably the White House renovation in 1902. Many of their magnificent chandeliers, wall sconces, and torchieres continue to be prominent features throughout the White House including the East Room ballroom and State Dining Room. Their work still graces many of New York City’s best known public and private buildings, as well as others throughout the country and beyond. Working with many of the most renowned architects of their day including Warren and Wetmore, Carrere and Hastings, and Cass Gilbert, they designed fixtures for most of the grand Beaux-Arts mansions, such as the homes of Henry Clay Frick, John Jacob Astor, J. Pierpont Morgan, Frederick W. Vanderbilt, and Andrew Carnegie. Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, and the magnificent art deco chandeliers and wall sconces for Radio City Music Hall are among their public building commissions. Visitors to Cooper Hewitt will see a series of bronze and alabaster ceiling fixtures in the Great Hall that leads to a massive chandelier illuminating the grand staircase—these are all original 1901 Caldwell designs for Andrew Carnegie’s mansion.
The craftsmanship of Caldwell and Company also transferred to modernism, as seen in this cosmic ceiling fixture the firm designed in 1932 for the art deco icon, Rockefeller Center. Built from 1930 to 1939 by a team of top architects led by Raymond Hood, Rockefeller Center consisted of fourteen buildings within three city blocks, making a mini city within a city of skyscrapers a reality for the first time. This commission was one of the largest and most prestigious a lighting manufacturer could achieve, and Caldwell was the obvious choice for the job. Each piece was custom designed and manufactured in their foundry at 36–40 West 15th Street, where they employed over a thousand people during the height of their operations. At a time when American manufacturing was at its peak, Caldwell and Company were masters at pairing design and craftsmanship with new electrical technologies, establishing a golden age of art lighting. The Edward F. Caldwell Collection, part of the Smithsonian Design Library archive and available online, is a valuable resource for historic preservationists, architectural scholars, lighting designers, and collectors. Because these fixtures are often found unmarked, disassembled, incomplete, or separated from their original locations, this archive is often the only source for identifying a Caldwell fixture in its original state. Browsing the archive also reveals the wide variety of tastes and styles that were rapidly developing and changing during an incredible time of growth in America.
The Decorative Arts SIG will be meeting at the ARLIS/NA conference in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 27 from 12:30 to 1:20. Please mark your calendars and join us for our annual meeting where we will share events and accomplishments by members, discuss topics of interest and revisit the progress of ongoing projects. Some of the matters planned for discussion include:
If you have other topics that you would like to add to the discussion, please let us know.
Also, check out the rest of the Decorative Arts SIG website to see the latest blog post from Elizabeth Broman of Cooper Hewitt, or to access the minutes from last year’s SIG meeting.
This extremely rare 1940 trade catalog from the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library, Katalog farforu fa︠i︡ansu i maĭoliky, represents the production of not any one company, but is the output of 10 state owned ceramics factories all over the Ukraine in small towns and villages after industry was nationalized in 1918.
This is a primary source document for the decorative arts and studying the material culture and political history of the Ukraine and the former Soviet Union.
We tend to be more familiar with the graphic arts of Communist Russia as vehicles for propaganda – especially posters. The decorative arts, especially of utilitarian objects like the tableware featured in this catalog, were important vehicles for disseminating political concepts of the new social order and Soviet nationalism to the masses in everyday life.
The Stalinist era of the 1930’s combined “peasant” or folk art motifs and patterns with propagandist symbols, emphasizing social and communal values while depicting positive images of workers and peasants.
In Plate XI, there are many examples of propaganda and folk art used together. Cup 79 commemorates May 1st as International Workers’ Day, an annual celebration of the revolution of 1918. Cup 80 features a hammer and sickle, symbols of the industrial proletariat and the peasantry; together with the floral folk art motifs the design they symbolize the unity between industrial and agricultural workers. Cup 84 depicts a silhouette of Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861), a poet and painter who became a Ukrainian hero for his writings, which indicted his country’s oppression by Tsarist Russia. Cups 82 and 83 are decorated with fighter planes and parachutes, portraying the military might and wartime spirit of the Soviet Union.
Several of the designs come directly from traditional Ukrainian geometric folk patterns used in embroidery and textiles.
by Rebecca Hopman, Outreach Librarian, Rakow Research library
When glass artist Mel George teaches a class, she takes her surroundings into account. She tries “to give the students special experiences that the individual places can offer.” So, soon after George and her students arrived at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, they set off to explore the Rakow Research Library.
During a tour of the special collections, the class had a chance to see the Library’s oldest item, the nearly 900-year-old Mappae clavicula (loosely translated, a little key to the world of medieval techniques). George was delighted with the manuscript, and assigned her students the task of creating contemporary interpretations of books, or “visual poems.” They visited again to examine books in the collection with glass covers and insets, then set to work. Their final pieces, inspired by the Library’s collection and their own identities as artists, demonstrate how libraries can inspire people in unexpected ways.
The Rakow Library collects information on glass and glassmaking. A cornerstone of the Museum’s campus, the Library is open to everyone, and offers guests a chance to learn more about all aspects of glass, including history, art, and science. The shelves are full of the expected as well as the surprising, often leading visitors like Mel George and her students in new directions.
Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library offers visitors a taste of what they can find if they venture up the Library’s glass staircase to the reading room. From a patent for preserving the dead in glass to a trilogy of romance novels chronicling the generations of a fictional glassmaking family, the exhibition unites many disparate materials from the Library and glass collections through themes of curiosity and inspiration.
Glass has been used for many purposes throughout history, some more surprising than others. In the early encyclopedia De proprietatibus rerum (On the properties of things), author Bartholomaeus Anglicus recommends crushing glass to a fine powder to clean teeth. Those with kidney stones could also mix the powder with their wine for relief. However, if the powder was not crushed finely enough, it would “sunder the guts” and kill them instead.
Glass was also the primary material used to make artificial eyes for hundreds of years. Skilled glassworkers could make a living making and selling eyes for taxidermy and as prosthetics. Catalogs and advertisements offered a wide variety of human, animal, and doll eyes for sale. Human eyes came in every color imaginable with optional red veins. Customers could even select “daytime” and “nighttime” eyes, with different dilations, for a more realistic look. Animal eyes were also for sale, and customers could buy anything from eyes for fish and insects to eyes for tigers or sheep.
During the 1600s and 1700s, artists like Martin Engelbrecht and Nicolas de Larmessin printed engravings of tradespeople wearing the tools and products of their trade. The Rakow Library’s prints collection includes a number of these images, which illustrate male and female glassmakers and peddlers clothed in bottles, leaded glass windows, molds, bellows, and more. These fanciful designs showed people the items associated with glassmaking.
Like all libraries, the Rakow Library is an incubator where all types of creativity can flourish. Mel George and her students found their inspiration in the rare books collection; glass artist Josh Simpson found his in the archives. Simpson was looking for information on iridescent glass, and came across a series of notebooks written by Arthur and Leslie Nash in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A father and son team who worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Nashes chronicled their projects, the glass recipes they created, and the glassmaking equipment they invented or improved. Beyond the bare details, they wrote of their triumphs and struggles, documenting what it was like to work at Tiffany Studios in Corona, New York.
Simpson soaked in the stories, finding similarities with his own frustrations and victories as an artist. He felt an emotional connection with the Nashes, realizing that he was part of a long chain of creators navigating their way through the artistic process. He hasn’t attempted to recreate their recipe for iridescent glass or make an object inspired by their work. But he does carry their stories with him, forming a bond with a duo whose legacy lives on in Tiffany glass. Simpson chronicles his recipes and experiments in his own series of notebooks. Perhaps someday their pages will speak to another artist in the same way the Nashes’ spoke to him.
Greg Merkel, a scientist and glass collector, was inspired by a similar set of notebooks in a different way. He collects pieces designed by artist Frederick Carder for Steuben Glass in Corning, New York. Carder was a prolific designer who left behind many notebooks filled with recipes for colors and types of glass. However, it can be difficult to pair a written recipe with a finished piece of glass.
Merkel, who is interested in both the beauty and chemical composition of Carder’s glass, decided to research the creation and development of each color, and definitively match pieces of glass to their corresponding recipes. As part of this work, he created a database of the recipes from the notebooks in the Rakow Library. He then used XRF (X-ray fluorescence) technology to scan pieces of glass for their composition. By doing so, he is able to connect the glass to a particular recipe. His work has led to the correct identification of many pieces of Carder’s glass, and benefits those who study and collect them.
These are just a few of the stories in Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library. Come see the rest, and find your own inspiration on the Library’s shelves.
Published on May 17, 2017 at https://www.cmog.org/article/curious-and-curiouser-surprising-finds-rakow-library
The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY
June 23, 2018 to January 7, 2019
Today, we think of architects as people who design buildings, construct skylines, and help create the visual identities of our cities and towns. But to a progressive group of European and American architects in the 20th century, the term “architect” applied not just to people who designed buildings, but to people who designed all aspects of interior decoration. They believed their role was to seamlessly integrate a modern aesthetic into all aspects of daily life. For these architects, furniture, ceramics, textiles, and glass, played an essential role in completing their new artistic vision.
Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937 explores the notion of architect as designer and presents a captivating period of glass design and production in Austria. Emerging from a confluence of individuals, ideas, and cultures, the design of Austrian glass from 1900 to 1937 embodied a newfound spirit of modernity. More than 150 objects, including the re-installation of Josef Hoffmann’s Dressing Room for a Star (first displayed at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris), bring to life this invigorating period for glass.
Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937 is a cooperation of the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO. At the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO, the exhibition was curated by Rainald Franz, MAK Curator, Glass and Ceramics Collection.
Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY|
April 8, 2017 to February 17, 2019
From advertisements for glass eyes to patents for preserving the dead in glass; from glasshouse dollars to drawings by world-famous artists such as Thomas Benton, Salvador Dalí, Eric Gill, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O’Keeffe: these rarely seen wonders are some of the curious and surprising objects from The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass.
Artists, researchers, authors, and glass enthusiasts of all kinds use the Rakow Library’s holdings to learn more about glass, which often leads to voyages of discovery in unexpected directions. Discover how the rare collections and curiosities in the Rakow Library have inspired others and how they can inspire you.
For more information: https://www.cmog.org/article/curious-and-curiouser-surprising-finds-rakow-library