Republic of Taste: Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America by Catherine E. Kelly

jbitenc Books

Artists and writers in eighteenth-century America, eager to craft a democratic culture distinct from that of Europe, but nonetheless notable for its refinement, elevated the idea of “taste” as an index of character and national virtue. This was not a populist project, but it reached into everyday life through the efforts of the people Catherine Kelly calls “aesthetic entrepreneurs,” who painted portraits, disseminated prints, opened museums, and produced banners and memorabilia to draw the multitudes into a patriotic festival of right-minded taste.

On Books: New and Noteworthy

aroseshapiro Books

Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman by Margaret K. Hofer and Roberta J. M. Olson (New-York Historical Society in association with D. Giles). 376 pp., color and b/w illus.  There’s nowt so queer as folk,” according to the venerable English comment on the vagaries of human personality. Indeed, when the Polish-born American sculptor Elie …

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Editorial Staff Books

Recent noteworthy publications that are a pleasure to read and a delight to behold French Art Deco by Jared Goss (Metropolitan Museum of Art, distr. Yale University Press). 280 pp., color and b/w illus. As an artistic term, art deco is one of the most misunderstood. “Art Deco is commonly referred to as a ‘style,’ a designation that suggests specific shared characteristics,” …

Farther afield: London’s leather alchemist: Gavin Rookledge, Rooks Books

Editorial Staff Books

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, …

Current and coming: Books at the Morgan

Katherine Lanza Books, Exhibitions

Whatever my other sins might be, envy is not usually among them. And yet, I recently felt that unwelcome emotion as I leafed through a coffee table book devoted to, of all things, the private library of Carl Gustav Jung. To turn from those rows of solemn volumes to the calamitous misalliance of dust jackets and trade paperbacks that make …