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
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 1, 2014 | For art lovers, the most interesting thing in Austin, Texas, is not the LBJ Presidential Library or the grandiose State House--impressive as both of them are--but the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Texas. A fine example of a university or college museum, it has strong collections of American and Latin American art, as well modern and contemporary. But what raises the Blanton far above most good university museums is its collection of Old Master paintings. What is so special about these works is that they come almost entirely from a single source, the famed Suida-Manning Collection, which the university acquired nearly intact in 1998 and around which it built the stylish Blanton Museum, which opened its doors in 2004.
Above: Saint Cecilia by Simon Vouet, c. 1626. Oil on canvas. The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, the Suida-Manning Collection, 1999.
What is so special about the Suida-Manning Collection, relative to most o…» More
October 31, 2014 | When Virginia-born George Caleb Bingham was seven, his father lost most of the family's fortune, and they moved to Missouri to build a new life, settling first in Franklin, on the banks of the Missouri River, and later on a farm in Saline County. Who knows what would have caught his imagination had Bingham stayed in Virginia, but there is no question that life on and near the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers as the nation moved westward brought him lasting fame as a painter, providing him with subject matter that satisfied both his artistic aims and his belief in democracy. For the first time, Bingham's river pictures are being examined in depth in an exhibition organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, where it opens on October 2.
Above: The Wood-Boat by George Caleb Bingham 91811 - 1879), 1850. Saint Louis Art Museum.
At a time when images of the West proliferated--in paintings, prints, maps, magazine illustr…» More
October 31, 2014 | This year marks the 350th anniversary of NewJersey, a milestone celebrated across the state with events and programs highlighting innovation, diversity, and liberty. The Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton is marking the occasion with an exhibition that introduces all three themes. Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860 brings together 150 examples of needlework made in or by New Jersey schoolgirls and organizes them geographically to illustrate connections between the elaborate artworks and utilitarian objects crafted by girls of diverse religious, family, and socioeconomic backgrounds, from the Quaker schools in Burlington County to a luxurious silk-on-silk memorial to George Washington made at the prestigious Folwell School in Philadelphia by a New Jersey native.
Above: Needlework by Kiziah Sharp, Burlington County, New Jersey, 1825. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Diker.
Research for the show has made it possible to exhibit mul…» More
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All