26 January 2015

separated at birth: a pile of stones etc.

Andrea Chapin's first novel The tutor builds on an imaginary tutoring by William Shakespeare of Katherine de L'Isle, daughter of the Lancashire family who live in a Norman castle. The book is due soon from Riverhead Books. The castle is based on a house in the Hudson Valley that Chapin's family lived in early in the 20th century. It was a castle too and the family left when their fortunes faded with the Great War. Like many large houses, it was a bit of a stylistic hodgepodge. The family even lost track of exactly where it was though they rediscovered it in the 1980s and were able to tour it with the family that lives there now. By the way, Chapin thinks that Benedict Cumberbatch would make a fine architect for the movie she imagines. The architect character is built on real-life Robert Smythson, the Elizabethan architect. This book sounds pretty interesting as does a just-out novel based around Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Mr. Mac and Me, by Esther Freud, daughter of painter Lucian Freud. That book was reviewed in yesterday's New York Times Book Review. The information about Chapin, her book, and the house is from an interview in the Home section of Thursday's New York Times (the picture is from the interview article).

Reading about that hodgepodge reminded me of the imaginary "library with house attached" doodled up for me by one of the art history grad students when I was my first job as an art librarian. Arnie Klukas was an adamant medievalist and Episcopal and shared my interest in all things medieval and architectural, and brutalism and eclecticism. On and on, I love it all so he drew me up a house built around the core of a romanesque chapel and cloister. The newest part of the house is the brutalist garage. This was the 1970s, after all.

23 January 2015

name of the day: Château Shatto

Name of the day: Château Shatto. It's a gallery in Los Angeles, on West Pico Boulevard. No, I'm not in Los Angeles; I'm just an armchair (deskchair) traveler (reader) at the reference desk. This picture is from their webpage for the BODY BY BODY, & Odilon Redon Education Pig show in July-September 2014 and is captioned Education Pig, 2014, installation view.

20 January 2015

separated at birth: glass walls

The "remuddling" page of Old-house Journal (they've dropped the hyphen but I like it) is often quite dislikeable or obviously incorrect and distasteful. This month:

I know I've been thinking about Fort Worth recently because the upcoming ARLIS/NA conference is there but this remuddle looks like a domestic cousin of the new building of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, designed by Tadao Ando ... without the "trees" and reflecting pool.

the artichoke's library

Thomas Hill, the art librarian at Vassar College, has one of the most fascinating feeds on my Facebook newsfeed. He finds intriguing links and posts great pictures. Almost a year ago, in March 2014, he posted something about a show at Special Collections entitled The Architect's Library. I really wanted the catalog and ordered a copy from the Vassar bookstore. It didn't come but I didn't act immediately. When I called the bookstore about the order during the summer, I got a message that they were being remodeled and were closed. Then, when I was in the area between Christmas and New Year's, I stopped on campus hoping to check about my order in person.
Now, the bookstore was closed for the holidays. I finally got my act together today and called the bookstore about my order. They were closed in the summer because they were shifting from being a Barnes & Noble outlet to independence. By now, I wasn't so worried about filling that order as just having the book. Since the Special Collections website indicated that the catalog could be ordered from them, I said to forget that old order and I'd just check in with them. It was my own stupid procrastination that had caused the order to go unfulfilled. So I called Special Collections and they said they'd put one in the mail today.

So what's with the "artichoke" in the post title? It's a tribute to Judith Holliday, the late architecture librarian at Cornell University. She was a consummate bibliographer and she'd refer to the architects as artichokes, mostly the students. She made my Cornell cataloging days happy with her selections, especially those in Italian. And she even taught me how to say Chigi. It's not chee-gey but key-gee. Thanks, Judith.

The print of Horace Walpole's library is from the webpage for the show and the photo is of Old Main at Vassar in the late-afternoon winter sunshine.

04 January 2015

learning about sidewalls

We visited the newly reopened Cooper-Hewitt Museum when I was in New York City for a couple days between Christmas and New Year's. I kept seeing the term "sidewalls" and was unfamiliar with the term for what looked to me like wallpaper. Checking the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, I discovered that AAT uses the term "fill papers" for "Wallpapers used to cover the main portions of walls between borders." "Sidewalls" is one of the alternate terms. Who knew? Saying "wallpaper" is just way too ambiguous.
This is an Aesthetic or Japanesque-Style wall paper, ca. 1880, from the Cooper-Hewitt collection.

02 January 2015

Cuba and the U.S.

"I candidly confess, that I have ever looked on Cuba as the next interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States. The control which, with Florida Point, this island would give us over the Gulf of Mexico, and the countries and isthmus bordering on it -- as well as all those whose waters flow into it -- would fill up the measure of our political well-being. Yet, as I am sensible that this can never be obtained, even with her own consent, but by war; and its independence, which is our second interest (and especially its independence of England), can be secured without it, I have no hesitation in abandoning my first wish to future chances, and accepting its independence -- with peace and the friendship of England -- rather than its association, at the expense of war and her enmity."

These are the words of Thomas Jefferson in 1823 during a period of discussion about the idea of the U.S. annexation of Cuba. The quotation, from a letter to President James Madison, is here taken from Cuba: a new history by Richard Gott (Yale University Press, 2004) which I am reading in anticipation of going to Cuba on a College Art-sponsored trip during the Havana Bienal. I am very much looking forward to Cuba being in peaceful association with the United States.
Just a reminder of relative distance between Florida and Cuba and the relationship to the Gulf of Mexico (screen shot from Google Maps)