April 16th, 2013
Well, better late than never. We just wanted to let you know that we have adjusted the Reading Room hours slightly for the Spring Quarter. We are now open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Friday. Of course, as always, we make accommodations for late classes or people who are not available during our open hours. Just let us know how we can help.
January 15th, 2013
We recently received a shipment of books from Printed Matter in New York. We order limited edition graphic novels, artists’ books, and zines from them. I was surprised that we received most of the materials we ordered, because after we submitted the order, we heard that disaster in the form of Hurricane Sandy had struck the non-profit.
Printed Matter is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of publications made by artists. Founded as a for-profit alternative arts space in 1976 by artists and artworkers, Printed Matter reincorporated in 1978 to become the independent non-profit organization that it is today… Recognized for years as an essential voice in the increasingly diversified art world conversations and debates, Printed Matter is dedicated to the examination and interrogation of the changing role of artists’ publications in the landscape of contemporary art.
Printed Matter’s mission is to foster the appreciation, dissemination, and understanding of artists’ publications, which we define as books or other editioned publications conceived by artists as art works, or, more succinctly, as ‘artwork for the page.’ Printed Matter specializes in publications produced in large, inexpensive editions and therefore does not deal in ‘book arts’ or ‘book objects’ which are often produced in smaller, more expensive editions due to the craft and labor involved in their fabrication. –From the Printed Matter website.
Printed Matter maintains a public reading room, a wholesale and retail distribution center, and gallery space. They publish, host book readings, and lectures. They participate in larger book events as well. Their participation in educational outreach has been a vital part of the definition and awareness of Artists’ books.
The other day, NPR reported on the over $200,000 worth of damage that occurred during Hurricane Sandy. The Chelsea store was flooded and about 9000 books were destroyed. Volunteers came from all over to help out and managed to salvage a number of boxes of wet materials. With the aid of a grant, these were sent to a restoration company called Polygon, where the materials were freeze dried to remove the water. Printed Matter will need to find new storage space that is not in a basement and a benefit auction is planned for the spring. You can listen to the broadcast or read a transcript of the story.
January 4th, 2013
Welcome back students and faculty! We are making a small change in our hours for 2013. We will now be open on Mondays and Wednesdays during the quarters from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we will be open from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
Of course, if you have a scheduling conflict and need to do research in Special Collections, we will always work with you to accommodate you. With a little notice, we can pull materials for you and make it available in another part of the library during evenings and weekends. And, we are always happy to schedule class visits for evening classes. Just let us know!
August 15th, 2012
A collection of books on British History and Literature came to the library recently and we have been cataloging them. There are some great titles and some truly historic works in this collection donated by Earle W. Newton. More of the Newton Collection can be seen at the SCAD Museum in the form of British Portraiture and Maps.
Somehow mixed in among the British titles are a number of works by Mark Twain. It was unexpected to find them with the British literature, but I suppose it should not have been too big of a surprise. Twain’s works were as popular in England as they were in the United States, and many of the titles were published simultaneously in London and in the US.
The books in the collection are largely first editions in various states. Trying to interpret state provides a fascinating look into the publishing world of the time. The difference in value between first edition, first state, and first edition, second or third state can be thousands of dollars, so it helps to know what state you have. But some of the differences are very subtle and some are disputed as to whether a small mark in the frontispiece indicates first or second state.
Examining the books for the small details of state allows one to read tiny excerpts. Most of us read at least one book by Twain in school such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. We may nostalgically remember that they were comical and sometimes sweet while at the same time providing biting social commentary. Even if the situations seemed dated, the humor was always relevant, the style so easy to read, and the stories seemed timeless. Come in to take a look at some of these Twain classics. Of course, we have most of Twain’s work available as e-books through the Library’s catalog also.
Charles Dana Gibson was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts to a politically active family in 1867. His father was a Civil War Lieutenant and an amateur artist. During a childhood illness, Gibson’s father showed him how to make silhouettes of people and animals. At the age of 12, Gibson entered and won a local art competition. Recognizing his early talent, his parents enrolled him in New York’s Art Students League. After two years of study, he sold his first pen and ink sketch to John Ames Mitchell at Life magazine. It was a cartoon of a dog baying at the moon. Mitchell did not think the work was well executed, but felt the artist had honesty and courage and gave him a chance.
Gibson steadily improved. He sold work to other major magazines and was called on to illustrate books as well. By 1889, he had saved enough to go to Europe to study there. He came back in 1890 to contribute regularly to a number of publications, including a weekly submission to Life. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life around this time. She was a beautiful, confident, athletic, thoroughly modern woman. She was kind but did not suffer fools gladly. She epitomized the turn-of-the-century American ideal of a truly American aristocracy. Not only was she immensely popular, she soon became a marketing bonanza and appeared on a wide variety of items, even wallpaper.
Gibson married Irene Langhorne in 1895. His elegant new bride and her sister, Nancy Astor, served as inspiration for his ever popular Gibson Girls. But even before the end of World War I, the Gibson Girl’s popularity was fading and began to be replaced by John Held’s Flapper, a more modern and fun-loving woman.
Though best know for his cartoons of beautiful women and befuddled men, Gibson also drew cartoons that addressed social and political issues of the day. He and Mitchell were fiery, pro-American war advocates, trying to push the country into World War I as early as 1914.
When John Ames Mitchell died in 1918, Gibson bought the magazine for $1 million. By then, the publishing world had changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though Gibson managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Gibson retired, turning Life over to publisher, Clair Maxwell, and treasurer, Henry Richter. By that time, the magazine had gone from a weekly to a monthly.
Gibson was the president of Society of Illustrators in the 1910s. During World War I, he headed a government agency that produced war posters. On his retirement, he began painting in oil. He died in 1944.
Charles Dana Gibson’s work is part of our digital project on the Images of Life. To see more, go to the Images of Life site. We also have a few books on Gibson such as The Gibson book: a collection of the published works of Charles Dana Gibson and we have a great collection of Life magazines with Gibson’s work.
July 23rd, 2012
Often, when we think of Artists’ books, we think of a book that is beautifully made and a pleasure to touch. But, Artists’ books can also be a venue that allows artists take on challenging issues and present them in a way that that is eye-catching and provocative. The book’s format draws the reader in and then the images or text allow the story or stories to unfold. Sometimes the stories alert the reader to an issue that he or she was only peripherally aware of. Sometimes the stories are so compelling that they have to be read, but afterward, the reader may wish she didn’t know those stories. She may wish she didn’t have to know how war does horrible things to good people. The library recently purchased such a book: Crossing the Tigris. It is an artists’ book that is a collaboration by three artists: Caren Heft, Jeffrey Morin & Brian Borchardt and three presses in Stevens Point, Wisconsin: Arcadian Press, sailorBOYpress, and Seven Hills Press.
One of the artists, Jeff Morin, describes it this way: “A narrative in three books recounting soldier’s stories from the Iraq War. This is a collaborative project between Jeffrey Morin, Caren Heft, and Brian Borchardt. The collaborators each found stories in the media that recount horrific situations that are inconceivable to those who work regularly with current or former soldiers who happen to be students or artists.”
A statement by the presses about the book: “The container for this collaboration is meant to embody the conundrum of this person who transforms into a beast capable of horrendous acts against innocents. The outside of the container is collaged in the same way that a boy might decorate his hiding place for treasures found. The elements, like currency, targets, or stamps, are in the realm of childhood values. The inside of the container sets the stage for juvenile battle. These are the props for pretend war. When confronted with the grittiness of war, do these ill-prepared young men simply break with realty? Are they taught that they are above the law? Or do they learn to devalue what is not obviously American? Neither the container nor the three books answer the questions posed above. We all know young soldiers who have served or those who could serve. This collaboration is intended to catalyze a conversation about the nature of change that allows potentially decent people to commit indecent acts.”
If you want to see more, or want to study the text, the artists have provided images of every page of all 3 volumes on the sailorBOYpress site. The 3 volume book was published in 2011 in an edition of 60. Jen Library’s Special Collections copy is number 27. Each 36 page book is letterpress printed with collage elements and inclusions. The books utilize handmade paper and hand sewn bindings and are presented in a four sided drop letter fold box, tied with twine.
July 16th, 2012
Our newest digital project, Images From Life, brings some of the classic cartoons, covers, and ads from the first Life magazine out from the archives. Life magazine was founded January 4, 1883 by John Ames Mitchell and Andrew Miller in a New York artist’s studio. Miller served as secretary-treasurer and managed the business side. Mitchell, an illustrator, served as its publisher. He invested in a revolutionary new printing process using zinc-coated plates which improved the reproduction of illustrations and artwork. This helped give Life an edge over its completion from the successful, established humor magazines, Judge and Puck. They hired Edward Sandford Martin, founder of the Harvard Lampoon, as the first literary editor.
Their introductory issue had the motto: “While there’s Life, there’s hope.” They let the readers know that while they would address issues of politics, fashion, society, religion, literature, etc., they would do so with “casual cheerfulness,” speaking fairly, truthfully, and decently. They also wanted to have fun.
By 1893, Life magazine decided to construct its own building. It included studio space and apartments for the artists, to create home within Life’s home. The firm of John Mervyn Carrere and Thomas Hastings created a Beaux Arts building and contracted Philip Martiny to create a sculpture for the entrance of the building. He created Winged Life, the cherub that became the symbol of Life magazine throughout its existence. The building now serves as the Herald Square Hotel. If you go to their site, you will find a lot of information on Life magazine and its artists.
Many famous illustrators and authors were contributors to Life. One of the most important was Charles Dana Gibson who sold his first contribution, an illustration of a dog outside his kennel howling at the moon, to Life for $4. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life in the 1890s. She soon became the nation’s feminine ideal and earned a place in history. Robert Ripley published his first cartoon in Life in 1908 and Norman Rockwell’s first cover for Life was published in 1917. Dr. Seuss submitted cartoons in the late 1920s.
After World War I, the publishing world changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though they managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Though its staff tried hard to keep current, it fought to make a profit in the 1930s. Henry Luce purchased Life in 1936 for its name only.
With Images From Life, we wanted to share some of the legendary art and artists with the SCAD community. Some of the artists are well known, some are not so well known. We also wanted to share some of the advertisements in Life. They are very informative of the time period. If you want to find the collection directly, we will add a link soon, but for now, use the link on the Library’s catalog page for the Don Bluth Collection of Animation. When you get to the Bluth Collection, click on the home option at the top and this will bring you to all of the collections. Just select the Images From Life icon with the cherub. This is a fascinating look at advertising and cartooning history, and we hope you will enjoy looking at is as much as we enjoyed bringing the project to you. We have barely touched the surface of the materials that are available from Life, and are going to continue to add new images as time permits!
July 12th, 2012
Harry Grant Dart was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1869. His worked for a time creating crayon portraits for the National Crayon Company brochures. In the 1890s, he drew for the Boston Herald and then, the New York World. The World sent Dart to Cuba as a sketch artist for important events in the days before photos were common in newspapers. Eventually, he became the art editor of the World.
Around the same time, he started his cartoon strip, the Explorigator. It featured fantastic aircraft with a crew of kids lead by Admiral Fudge. They set out to explore the moon and find the Man in the Moon, moonbeams, a Mood Lady, and Catamarinktum Cave populated by Moon cats. There are even tame watermelons that can be ridden. The strip only ran for 14 weeks in 1908. The strips are available online from Barnacle Press but these are in black and white. To see these amazing comic strips in color, come to Special Collections to see Forgotten fantasy, Sunday comics 1900-1915: visions from Lyonel Feininger, Winsor McCay and many more! edited by Peter Maresca, published in 2011, call number PN6726 .F37 2011.
Dart went on to become a very prolific cartoonist for Life and Judge during the 1920s. He is best known for his futuristic and aviation-oriented cartoons and comic strips. He was very egalitarian and often put women at the helm of his complicated flying machines. He is also known for his detailed cartoons with futuristic speculations. He predicted the press covering sporting events in blimps above the stadium in a 1912 cartoon for Life (see cartoon below). The first baseball game covered by radio was not until 1921. He used a robotic servant in a cartoon from 1911 from Life. He often used an ensemble cast of thousands in a montage of scenarios and locations to illustrate his point. Dart died in New Hampshire in 1938.
June 27th, 2012
We have been working on a new digital project in Special Collections on the old periodical, Life, which was published between 1883 and 1936. It is not like the Life you may remember that was mostly photos. This older Life was like the New Yorker, with reviews, essays, stories, editorials, and best of all, cartoons, political and otherwise. In doing this project, we have discovered some truly original and wonderful artists that we want to share. So, over the next few posts, we will share a few. The first one is considered to be one of the most influential cartoonists of his time: T. S. Sullivant. However, most people never heard of him. He was considered to be a gag cartoonist and the creator of the modern caricature cartooning. If you want to read more about him, The Comics Journal Special Editions, Winter 2002, volume 1, has a great article about him written by Jim Woodring. This issue of Comics Journal is located in Special Collections.
T. S. Sullivant was a true pioneer in the field of cartooning. At a time when most American cartoonists were drawing fairly realistic looking characters and animals, Sullivant drew his figures with exaggerated facial and anatomical features. He inaugurated the big heads and big feet of modern caricature cartooning. Sullivant’s subjects were animals, cave men and women, Biblical characters, and ethnic groups, and his cartoons are as funny today as they were when they were written almost 100 years ago.
Thomas Sterling Sullivant was born in Columbus, Ohio. He may have studied art in Germany, where he lived for several years. He returned to the United States in 1885 and moved to Philadelphia where he studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Art with Thomas Eakins. In 1886, he sold his first cartoon. He soon was appearing in a number of periodicals, including Life. He continued to study with various artists, such as Edward Moran and E. D. Bensell. He utilized a pen and ink style that was meticulously cross-hatched, which was popular at the time. His cartoons were masterfully distorted figures of animals and stereotypical people referred to as “grotesque yet believable.” He also worked for a number of other periodicals and for William Randolph Hearst, but returned to Life in 1911 and contributed cartoons until his death in 1926. He is considered to be one of the most influential cartoonists of his time.
June 7th, 2012
A couple of years ago, we ordered an interesting artists’ book by a cooperative of Mayan men and women in Chiapas, Mexico, called The Portable Mayan Altar. In a box shaped like a Mayan thatched roof hut with its blend of art, poetry, magic, and culture, it was an instant hit. The vendor’s information mentioned that the cooperative was called Taller Leñateros, and it was founded by Ambar Past. A little research on the internet helped us to find that Ambar Past was an American who went to Mexico as a teacher of natural dye techniques for the National Indian Institute. She traveled to remote areas, eventually making her home in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the highlands of Chiapas. There she founded a graphic arts collective, Taller Leñateros, which makes paper and books.
Part of her work for the past 30 years has been collecting, recording, and translating Tzotsil poetry and music, and collaborating on bilingual anthologies published by Taller Leñateros. The collective recycles a variety of materials to make handmade paper, some of which is sculpted into various sculptural shapes as book covers. They also silk-screen the illustrations for the books, then print and bind the books.
We decided to further explore the publications of this seemingly unlikely publisher of artists books and recently purchased two more. Here is a little about each of them:
Incantations by Mayan Women, Fathermothers of the Book: Ámbar Past with Xun Okotz and Xpetra Ernándes.
OVER A HUNDRED AND FIFTY PEOPLE COLLABORATED to write, illustrate, and create this book, among them singers, seers, witchwives, washer women, sugar beer brewers, conjurers, native bearers, prayer makers, soothsayers, sorceresses, dyers, diviners, hired mourners, spinners, shepherdesses, babysitters, millers, maids, bookbinders, spellbinders, cornharvesters, great-grandmothers, sharecroppers, necromancers, exorcists, coffee pickers, potters, crazy women, midwives, planters, woodlanders, bonesetters, troublemakers, spiritualists, mothers-in-law, peddlers, gravediggers, fireworks makers, drinkers, hags, beggars, bakers, basket weavers, shamanesses, liars, computers, comagres, sculptresses, muses, and even men. We have made this book “as we make our children,” in the words of Petú Xantis, “with the strength of our flesh and the birds of our heart.
From “Notes on the Creators” essay in the book. The three-dimensional cover is modeled after the face of Kaxail, Mayan goddess of the wilderness, and made of recycled cardboard mixed with corn silk and coffee. The book itself is in several parts. The incantations are in English and in Tzotzil. There are over 70 pages of original silkscreen illustrations by Mayan painters and it is estimated that the book took 30 years to create.
Portable Mayan altar: pocket books of Mayan spells, translation from Tzotzil to English by Ámbar Past.
A box shaped like a traditional Mayan house, holds the altar and its accessories: candles, candleholders, incense and burner, and three books. The books, Hex to Kill the Unfaithful Man, Mayan Love Charms, and Magic for a Long Life, are excerpted from Incantations by Mayan Women.
The books, small and bound in paper covered boards, have beautifully marbled end leaves and silk screened illustrations. The spells and charms are in both English and Tzotzil. Each book has a ribbon bookmark attached to aid in finding your favorite spell, like the spell to keep the dog from barking at your boyfriend.
Bolom Chon, [translation and texts in English, Ámbar Past with Sara Miranda and Tom Slingsby ; texts in Tzotzil Maya [by] Maria Tzu, Rominka Vet and Maruch Méndes Péres].
This vibrant book about the jaguar is marketed as a children’s book, but it is really for anyone. The text in both English and Tzotzil, is inspired by the song, Bolom Chon, about a magical creature. It has original silkscreened illustrations by Mayan artists and a jaguar with maguey fiber whiskers pop-up centerfold. Included is a CD recording of Tzotzil children singing with their grandmother. The cover, printed on an 1895 era letterpress, is made from recycled cardboard mixed with coffee. According to the Taller Leñateros: “The cover was stepped on by the Bolom Chon so its footprints remained as a testimony of its passing through the world.” It comes housed in a colorful jaguar case.