January 12, 2015 | Rooks Books produces books (and other leather-wrapped objects) that have a tactile, physical presence while exuding a sense of otherworldly mystery. One might expect to find such volumes in the hands of Gandalf or on the walls of the library at Hogwarts. Each uniquely created binding, made from a vast variety of leathers and other natural skins, seems to say, “touch me, I hold the secrets of the universe.” And yet each commands enough respect to elicit a pause before leafing through the vellum pages, lest one be turned to dust for laying eyes on such knowledge without the proper initiation.
Photographs by Debbie Patterson.
These books are, in fact, not made by elves but are created today in south London by Gavin Rookledge and a team of experts trained in traditional techniques of bookbinding and printing. Some even contain secret compartments that can hide incongruously contemporary iPads for living wizards.
Rookledge, when lecturing to art students, defines the …» More
January 12, 2015 | When he was designing the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the great American architect Louis Kahn said that he wanted it to resemble “a friendly home.” That might surprise anyone familiar with Kahn’s museums—the Kimbell, the Yale Center for British Art, or the Yale University Art Gallery—but I think he was simply saying that he wanted his building to wall out cultural intimidation. What he, or any museum these days, might want to wall in is another story.
At the newly reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum—described in these pages by Frank Rose, who is always on the cutting edge of everything—they want visitors to come in and create their own twenty-first-century design experience. At Harvard where the art museums have also just reopened after six years, Ethan Lasser says they want visitors to listen in as the masterpieces talk to each other across continents and centuries, and they have arranged them to do just that.
And then there is the Newark Museum, subjec…» More
November 21, 2014 | In Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century the Denver Art Museum has taken a seventy-five-year slice (1900-1975) from the illustrious firm's 160-plus-year history and illuminated a central paradox of great jewelry: greatness depends upon designs that capture a keen sense of the zeitgeist but do so with enough sheer awesomeness to stand far above it. And so, the exhibition's vitrines of precious jewelry, clocks, and luxurious accessories are set off by historic film clips, photographs, and period advertising materials. Two world wars, a worldwide depression, a wave of nihilism, and a new aristocracy of celebrities may have made their mark on Cartier's designs, but in the end, great jewelry just enduringly is, and therein lies much of its fascination.
Above: Crocodile necklace made by Cartier as a special order for Mexican film actress María Félix, 1975. Gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies. Nick Welsh photograph (c) Cartier.
The exhibition is organized around seven themes such as…» More
November 14, 2014 | In the nineteenth century there was an oft-repeated tale about the young Thomas Coleentering New York from the far reaches of rural Pennsylvania and being met with hosannasfrom the city's artists. Like most oft-told tales this one turned fact toward myth (to beginwith, Cole had arrived from nowhere more obscure than Philadelphia), and yet it suggests somethingintriguing and durable about the artist: clouds of transcendent glory do seem to clingto him. Alexander Nemerov, in one of his aerial feats of art historical criticism that we are luckyenough to publish in this magazine, suggests why this should be so. "Thomas Cole's hat, or What is it to be an artist?" looks beneath the hat on display at the Thomas Cole house in Catskill, New York, to consider what we can and cannot know about a creative mind attuned to a different world while living in this one. The article is, if I may be oxymoronic for a moment, an effortless tour de force, so hang on to your hat and take the ride. It …» More
November 13, 2014 | By Katharine Morrison McClinton; originally published in September 1950.
From time to time Mrs. McClinton contributes a note to ANTIQUES on some intriguing bypath of collecting interest. This one, which offers an appealing approach to nineteenth-century ceramics, will be incorporated in expanded form, in her forthcoming book on antiques, to be published next year by McGraw-Hill.
Nineteenth-century children's mugs have long attracted collectors, but few are perhaps aware of the wide variety of patterns in which these mugs may be found. The collection of pottery mugs formed by Margaret H. Jewell, now on display at the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston, includes no less than 1200 examples, with hardly a duplicate.
Among the earliest, made before 1840, are mugs decorated simply with a name and inscription, sometimes adding a wreath of leaves. Today these mugs are rare. They were made in canary as well as cream color, with transfer decoration most commonly in black, though other…» More
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All