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Posts from the Art & Architecture Collection

Tell me more: What is happening in this painting?

Recently, a reader asked me how to find out what the painting Lotus Lilies by Charles Courtney Curran was all about. All the reader knew was that the Terra Foundation for American Art owned this painting, as well as several others by Curran.  This type of query is popular for art works located in New York City museums. When an artist 

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An Exquisite Handmade Crafternoon with Julia Rothman: Sept. 18th!

Do you want to play a game called Exquisite Corpse?  Don’t worry, there’s nothing ghoulish about it; it’s a collaborative art game that was invented by the surrealists.  And it was this game that inspired illustrator and pattern designer Julia Rothman and her colleagues Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe to collaborate with one hundred artists on

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A Natalie Chanin-Inspired Booklist.

If you were one of the seventy lovely people who attended our last Handmade Crafternoon (in May—eegads, so long ago!), then you know already what a wonderful time it was.  Natalie Chanin encouraged us all to take up needle and thread and make sustainable fashions entirely by hand from the humblest scraps of soft cotton jersey.  She filled the afternoon with stories, practical advice, and enthusiasm, and Maura and I couldn't have imagined a better way to wind up our spring series.  And of 

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Alabama Chanin at Handmade Crafternoon.

Our next Handmade Crafternoon is on May 15, 2010--with special guest Natalie Chanin, the creative director of Alabama Chanin and the author of Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.  Chanin's line of clothing and home goods mixes homespun techniques--like stencils, applique, string quilting, and more--with gorgeous modern designs. And her approach to production--slow and sustainable--is noteworthy.

Natalie 

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Earth-Friendly Crafting, Then and Now.

If you like to make stuff, chances are that when Earth Day arrives each year "green" handicrafts come to mind.  Perhaps you make new items from materials that others would consider wornout or trash; or maybe you seek out all-natural materials for your crafts.  If crafting of this kind  interests you, you might want to look back in time at how crafters from decades past approached "green" crafting. 

Here are some vintage books from the Library worth browsing both for entertainment and information:

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Crafternoon Favorites, Old and New

This weekend's Handmade Crafternoon was full of industrious, creative attendees—I never fail to be wowed by the skills, enthusiasms, and interests each member of our community brings to Handmade Crafternoons. 

Thanks so much for joining us!  My thanks also go out to Maura Madden for making us laugh while introducing us to some of her favorite books, both old and new, from the Library's collections. 

Here are the books we browsed with her on Saturday:

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Share the Fun at April 17th's Handmade Crafternoon

Get ready, because you are the star at this Saturday's Handmade Crafternoon!  We invite you, our attendees, to bring your own craft projects to work on in the company of friends.

Maura Madden, my favorite expert at creating crafty social gatherings, will lead the afternoon and will share some of her favorite projects and craft books. Don't want to BYOC (that is, bring your own craft)?  Between crafty things? No worries—we'll have craft 

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Books about Puppets and Felt.

March 20th's Handmade Crafternoon was full of creative energy and happiness, thanks to all of you who came and got crafty, and also of course thanks to the felt and puppet inspiration offered by our special guest, Kata Golda.  And I was glad to hear from many of you that the books that I gathered with the help of two enterprising Library interns were a particular hit!

So, without further ado, here's the booklist from that day.

As 

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Hand-Stitched Mice at Handmade Crafternoon.

Don't worry! Our felt mice won't be frightening-- unless you want yours to be!Our next Handmade Crafternoon is in just two days, and my co-host Maura Madden and I hope that you will join us.  We've lined up a sweet special guest, Kata Golda, who makes extraordinary little toys and creatures out of felt  (and whose book Hand-Stitched Felt is a great guide to making your 

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Art in the Stacks: French Neoclassical Painting, March 23

The passions of mythological gods have been the subject of painting since the Greeks and Romans first told their stories to create an allegorical world for the lust and greed of humanity.  Lucky for us, the beauty and scandal portrayed by artists have been our feast ever since. 

Without exception, on Tuesday, March 23, Katie Hanson will address the amorous Greco-Roman mythological subjects in paintings by Anne-Louis Girodet,

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A Book Arts Booklist.

If you were one of the nearly 80 crafty book artists-in-training who came out for Handmade Crafternoon last weekend, thanks for joining us as we folded and glued and cut our way to unusual pop-up paper garland book structures.  And speaking of books, a number of guests asked about getting a list of the Library books I brought along for browsing that day.  Your wish is my command.  Here are the titles I gathered to inspire us; each title links to its record in the

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Art in the Stacks: Part One

Collis P Huntington mansion, interior, Central Hall with painted lunette murals by H. Siddons Mowbray, c. 1894. Altered photograph courtesy Yale University Art Gallery.Those who use the resources of the Art & Architecture Collection come in splendid variety: old and young, sophisticated and naive, happily curious and relentlessly searching. We love it, for where else could you be asked "just what is that building in back of that Madonna" followed by a search for more of Grandmama's old Limoge 

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Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth and Bee Space

Although I don’t keep bees, I’ve lately found myself being drawn into their curious world—looking into New York City’s beekeepers; investigating honeybees in history, literature, design, and in the kitchen; even incorporating the 

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Hudson's Legacy

No, I'm not referring to Henry Hudson and his quadricentennial of "discovering" Manhattan and the river that's named after him. I'm speaking of Alice Hudson, Chief of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, who retires this week after a long and glorious career at NYPL. She's someone who impacted many lives, leaving behind a shining legacy that will continue to glow for years.

I'll particularly miss Alice's wry humor. I still chuckle when I recall her telling me that she first wanted to title 

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A Glamorous Fashion Revolution

“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.” Mark Twain (1835-1910)

I like to see the end of the nineteenth century as a marvelous revolution in dress. The signs aren’t completely evident. We do have some stiff, high-collared Edwardian conventions to get through. Perhaps I can make an analogy with July. We celebrate Old Glory on the fourth and head off for the beach. New waves are coming and we want to be in position to catch them.

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Original Steampunk

The retro fashion for Steampunk has been well covered by other bloggers. Steampunk extends to more than clothes, and includes novels, films, music, and accessories. A tribute to the age of steam which culminated in sleeker industrial designs by the 1890s, I think of Steampunk as a mix of Sherlock Holmes, narrow-gauge railways, the Wild, Wild West television series, and the lovely lady pictured 

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Fallen Women

Bold hussies would get their comeuppance, predicted the morally offended critics of a society growing too racy for comfort. How dare they talk about a “New Woman,” ready to take part in every aspect of society? Such ideas were on a par with the fashion for progress in all things technological and scientific. Social change had come and left its mark. The outward signs of this, however, were still not apparent to all. Indeed, many considered the 1890s a time of uncertainty.

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Bicycle Breakthrough

A real fashion breakthrough occurs in the late nineteenth century with the notion of specific costumes for sports. As early as 1888, advertisements show models of “bicycle-gowns.” This would lead to the adoption of bloomers and divided, or bifurcated, skirts. Modesty and seemliness were deplored in vain. Why, that pernicious bicycle would even bring about a man and woman riding in tandem! How tame does costume of this era seem today when compared to our lycra and spandex sports outfits. Yet the revolutionary nature of this small first step toward sports 

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At The Beach

What a short stretch of time before bathing can become swimming! The social mores that prevent women from disrobing or showing their bodies will slowly be overcome by the end of the 1880s. Since the Enlightenment, women were permitted to wear flowing, concealing robes if they wanted to take a dip in the sea, or even a spa pool. The concept of a bathing suit was far from what we know today. In the 1880s, a woman might wear a slightly more relaxed form of dress, but dressed she remained. Contrast such clothing with the adoption of a 

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Artistic Endeavor

“I would venture to warn against too great intimacy with artists as it is very seductive and a little dangerous.” Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901

Women attempted to break through barriers in the arts as well. The Royal Academy of Art in London allowed women to sit in on certain art classes. Where once they could have only aspired to decorative arts—and the Victorian era is full of such efforts—women now sought painting, sculpture, and architectural training 

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