Whether you know him personally or just by reputation, there’s no question that Jonathan Leo Fairbanks is a lion in the worlds of American decorative arts and craft. Recently, to toast him on his retirement as director of the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, the museum published American History, Art, and Culture: Writings in Honor of Jonathan Leo Fairbanks.
Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America, distributed for the Chicago Art Deco Society by Yale University Press, provides an occasion for examining the city’s art deco history. Through five scholarly essays and 101 notable objects and buildings, Art Deco Chicago reevaluates art deco’s and Chicago’s cultural and economic contributions to the United States during the Machine Age.
The most in-depth biography of the pre-eminent American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) is now out. French—whose works include the statues of the Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts, and Alma Mater at Columbia University in New York—has long deserved a comprehensive exploration, and historian Harold Holzer’s Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French (Princeton Architectural Press, $35) has been eagerly anticipated.
A new book explores the glass collections at Yale University, reflecting the broad sweep of American history in vitreous form
A monumental new study of the life and art of cabinetmaker Isaac Vose
Visitors to Versailles: From Louis XIV to the French Revolution
A new monograph on Pre-Raphaelite stained glass, plus notable museum catalogues from the past year.
At the artful, idiosyncratic publishing house Arion Press, surprise and delight are the stock in trade
It seems to be, or should be, a law of intellectual life that the more obscure a discipline, the better the scholarship that it inspires. Its very obscurity, like a dragon guarding a valued horde, repels all but the most valiant and serious scholars. Compare a Wikipedia article on Khloé Kardashian with one on Pius IX and you will get the idea.
America is so rich in great museums that we have come to take them for granted. We should not.