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Tell Me More: How Can I Find Out About This Sculpture?
A recent question at the reference desk was how to find more about the sculpture of the large button threaded with a needle that stands in the Garment District of New York City at 7th Avenue and 39th Street. This query reminded me of a previous blog post I had written on locating information on a specific painting. The process for looking for information on a sculpture or sculptor is similar, but I thought I would highlight some of the search strategies and resources for sculpture that are different from painting.
- "Postings: A Kiosk for the Fashion Center; Who's Got the Button?" New York Times: 9.1. National Newspapers Premier. Feb 04 1996. - The stainless steel needle is 31-feet long with a 2-foot eye threaded threw a 14-foot button.
- Snaije, Olivia. "The Alchemy Of Design [Hugh Cosman]." Metropolis 17.9 (1998): 43. - Names Hugh Cosman as the fabricator of the button and needle.
- Durante, Dianne. Outdoor Monuments in Manhattan. New York: New York University Press, 2007.
- Gayle, Margot. The Art Commission and The Municipal Society Guide to Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture. New York: Prentice Hall, 1988.
- Keech, Pamela. The Curious Shopper's Guide to New York City: Inside Manhattan's Shopping Districts. New York: Little Bookroom, 2006.
- Identity Map Company. The Fashion District Map: [Manhattan, New York, N.Y.] . New York: Fashion Center Business Improvement District, 2003.
- Masello, David. New York's 50 Best Art in Public Places. New York: City & Co., 1999.
- Phifer, Jean. Public Art New York. New York, WW Norton, 2009.
- Claes Oldenburg: an Anthology. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1995.
- Claes Oldenburg: Early Work. New York: Zwirner & Wirth, c2005.
- Claes Oldenburg: Multiples in Retrospect, 1964-1990. New York: Rizzoli, c1991.
- Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties. New York: Prestel Publishing, 2012.
- Geldzahler, Henry. New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970. Dutton, [c1969]
- Robinette, Margaret A. Outdoor Sculpture: Object and Environment. Whitney Library of Design, [c1976]
- Where is it located? If it is in a public collection, check their website for collections information. Check the library's catalog for exhibitions catalogs and/or collections catalogs that may contain the work.
- Who was the sculptor? If it is an established artist, one who has been exhibited and has had success in his career, check the catalog for a book on the artist, or books the artist is included in. Is there a biography, or have the artist's letters been published? If the artist is not so famous, check for auction records on the artist's work. Often work by lesser known artists is sold in auctions that list background information on the works and artist for the sale. For monumental and public sculpture, check for books with those keywords and the city or place of your query (Keyword Search: New York City public sculpture).
- Biographical dictionaries, indexes, and encyclopedias often have short entries on otherwise hard to find artist that can lead you to more information. Try Who Was Who in American Art, Sculpture Index, and Benezit's Dictionary of Artists to begin with. Also, check our databases for journal articles that may have been written about the artist or an exhibition the artist was in. This is especially good for contemporary artists who may not be published in a monograph or catalog yet. To verify the spelling or variations of spelling of an artist’s name try the Union List of Artist’s Names published by the Getty Research Library.