29 November 2018


When we were in Milan in the spring, I bought a crumpled map of the city at the shop at the Triennale di Milano. It's one of the "Soft city maps for urban jungles" by palomar and it's even, I guess, recyclable since it has a recycle triangle with 01 and PET. It is made of that wonderful material that feels kind of like paper that is almost worn out.

Now I've read in the New York Times that "scientists [have] discover[ed] a landscape of surprising mathematical order" in crumpled paper. "This is how the paper crumples" by Siobhan Roberts, November 27, in Science Times. Last week's Science Times (a Tuesday section of the print Times) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the section.

(Addendum: it's the "MILAN" container that is recyclable, not the map. The map says "This is not paper, do not waste as paper.")

27 November 2018

artists as authors, according to current cataloging practices

Karen Bouchard asked in a recent ARLIS-L message for recommendations of artist's manuals or other writings by contemporaries of Hokusai, the Japanese printmaker who lived from 1760-1849. She is frustrated by current and long-standing cataloging practice. "It's so hard to look up works *written* by artists, since LC puts artists as authors of books even when they are actually subjects of the books."

This has been the common American library practice the whole time I've been cataloging art publications, since 1969 using several generations of cataloging rules (ALA, AACR, Chapter 6, AACR2, RDA) and a variety of institutional policies. The artist as author reflects the illustrative material in the resource, that is, the artist being discussed is the creator of the works illustrated. If you were cataloging any of those illustrations individually, I don't think the artist as author would seem inappropriate. In the context of the monograph however, the illustrations are acting to support the text which generally doesn't include the words of the artist.

Some art libraries have had policies to never include an author entry for an artist unless the resource actually included his or her words. This kind of policy was much easier to do before the wide availability of copy and before multi-institutional consortial arrangements with shared cataloging policies.

The current and recent members of the ARLIS/NA Cataloging Advisory Committee have had many discussions on the RDA Conventional Collective Title, especially its usefulness on monographs with considerable text as well as significant illustrative material. A uniform title like "Paintings. Selections" under an artist for your standard monograph or exhibition catalog just doesn't seem helpful, especially in a search and discovery environment which privileges word searching.

Current RDA cataloging also has values for the content, media, and carrier. Common values for a printed monograph would be "text" for content, "unmediated" for media, and "volume" for carrier. Some (probably most but not me) also code "still image" for content. These values can be used for narrowing a search. If I want to find a book about paintings by an artist, I can't imagine limiting my search to "still images" because I'd expect that to retrieve reproductions.

Wingårdh & Nordenfalk

One of the things I really like about my Avery indexing is that I get to learn about architects and buildings that have escaped my ken until now. A recent revelation was the work of Gert Wingårdh of Sweden. His firm Wingårdhs has over 200 employees so it's a big practice. Wingårdhs and Erik Wikerstål have just completed the renovation of the Swedish National Museum which was designed by Berlin architect Friedrich August Stüler in 1866. It's a grand Renaissance Revival building. Stüler also designed the Friedenskirche at Sanssouci in Potsdam-Berlin.
(Nationalmuseum, from the Wingårdhs website)
Erika Gerdemark for The New York Times

This picture is from an article in the New York Times, dated October 16, 2018. They misspelled Wingårdh as Wingard and left the angstrom off Wikerstal.

Whenever I think of the Swedish National Museum, I think of Carl Nordenfalk, one of the most important art historians of medieval manuscripts and director of the museum from 1958 to 1968. He was a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh when I worked there in the 1970s. A specialty of his was canon tables which are especially close to my heart since I had done a paper on a manuscript leaf at the Cleveland Museum of Art during grad studies at Case Western Reserve. As usual, everything loops around and I was thrilled to see two Burgundian mourners from the CMA collection in a special exhibition at the Frick Collection in New York City last week. I also saw the Armenia! show at the Metropolitan Museum which included a lot of canon tables.