Category Archives: Exhibitions


High noon at the Whitney Museum of American Art, week 2 open to the public.

Aaron Douglas, Into Bondage, 1932.

Diego Rivera, Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita, October 13, 1931

Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927

Alexander Calder’s Circus


Touring work by Alison Saar, Dianne Smith, Wangechi Mutu, and Nobuho Nagasawa

Back in 2008, Alison Saar was commissioned to create “Swing Low,” a two-tone bronze statue of Harriet Tubman (died 1913) in a traffic island at West 122nd Street, St. Nicholas Avenue, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. Thirteen feet tall, the memorial shows Tubman striding fearlessly forward despite roots pulling on the back of her skirt. The base illustrates moments from Tubman’s life, alternating with traditional quilting symbols.

“Harriet Tubman is shown with the force of a locomotive coming on full steam with the ruffle of her petticoat acting as a cattle guard to push all resistance aside. Artist Alison Saar designed stylized portraits of “anonymous passengers” of the Underground Railroad in Tubman’s skirt, some of which were inspired by West African “passport masks.” Around the granite base of the monument are bronze tiles alternately depicting events in Tubman’s life and traditional quilting patterns. Trailing behind Tubman’s skirt are roots which symbolize the pulling up of roots by the slaves and all they had to leave behind and Tubman’s uprooting of the slavery system itself.”

Dianne Smith touching up her piece of the Harlem Black Lives Matter mural.

A Black Lives Matter mural, with letters painted in both directions on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard from 125th to 127th Street, was designed and completed by local community residents, apart from the six other murals painted across New York City’s five boroughs by Department of Transportation workers.

The artists are also cleaning and repairing it each day. Seen above is Dianne Smith who is responsible for the two Ts, incorporating the faces of Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd’s daughter along with text by James Baldwin. Other artists who contributed designs for the mural include LeRone Wilson, Jason Wallace, Omo Misha, Guy Stanley Philoche, LesNY Felix, Thomas Heath, and Joyous Pierce.


Although the Metropolitan Museum of Art remains closed until the end of the summer, visitors can still enjoy Wangechi Mutu’s “The NewOnes, will free Us,” four bronze sculptures mounted in the building’s 5th Avenue façade. This is the first time works of art have been placed in the four niches and when Mutu’s temporary exhibit is over, another artist’s work will take its place.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu trained in sculpture at Yale University, from which she received her MFA in 2000. Her work often references modern and classical mythologies, while they conflate histories and traditions of Africa and Europe. For “The NewOnes,” she was invited to establish a dialogue between “the artist’s practice and our physical Museum, its collection, and our visitors. …Mutu took this traditional function and turned it on its head. Here, the caryatids have been liberated from their supporting role: these magnificent, commanding figures assert their power and independence, and directly engage with all who visit the Museum.”


“Luminescence” by Nobuho Nagasawa, is one part of the newly constructed Hunter’s Point Park in Long Island City, Queens. The installation of seven cast concrete domes represent the seven phases of the moon, using white Portland cement integrated with phosphorous particles, pigment, and reflective silicon carbide grains. Best seen at sunset when Nagasawa’s moon’s begin to glow as the evening approaches.

“In the field of public art, Nagasawa completed more than thirty public art and intervention projects with successful interdisciplinary collaborations with architects and engineers internationally. They include civic projects such as city halls, government plazas, research laboratories, libraries, greenways, and transportation infrastructure. They range in scale from a 3000-foot long state highway retaining wall and large sculptures integrated within the architecture and landscape, to human-scale projects.”

Her works has been published in books including: Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Japanese Against the Sky (Alexandra Munroe, 1994), Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society (Lucy Lippard, 1997), Epicenter: San Francisco Bay Area Art Now (Mark Johnstone, Leslie Aboud Holzman, 2002), and Art after the Bomb: Iconographies of Trauma in Late Modern Art (Darrell Davisson, 2008).


"Luminescence" (2018) by Nobuho Nagasawa at Hunter's Point South Park, Long Island City, New York from Nobuho Nagasawa on Vimeo.

Museum of the History of the Recorded Word

The Story of the Recorded Word (New York: New York Times Company, 1939). “To tell the story briefly related in this booklet, the New York Times has been assembling…more than two hundred objects now on exhibition…From the exhibits have been selected the illustrations in this booklet.”

The Story of The Recorded Word: Telling In Condensed Form The History of Five Thousand Years of Recording From Man’s First Impressions On Clay To The Modern Newspaper (New York: New York Times, 1940). Graphic Arts Collection Z4 .N56 1940



Arthur Hays Sulzberger (1891-1968), publisher of The New York Times from 1935 to 1961, was enthusiastic when Elmer Adler (1884-1962) proposed a Museum of the History of the Recorded Word. Sulzberger gave his tenant additional space on the tenth floor in the Times 43rd Street building, emphasizing that the focus should be on the final case with the most current edition of the New York Times (rotated daily).

He wrote to Adler, “The desire is to impress the observer with the scholarship, research, and authenticity in back of each issue of the New York Times to show how five thousand years of scholarship contribute to the presentation of each day’s issue of the paper.”

On April 25, 1938, the Museum of the History of the Recorded Word opened to the public with a series of cases circling a single room filled with originals and facsimiles presenting a chronological history of printing. In the middle was a cast of the Rosetta Stone, a rack to display newspapers around historic events, and an old hand press.

The Times printed an announcement taking credit for Adler’s show, which read in part: “The New York Times has assembled a History of the Recorded Word, a permanent collection showing the progress of that word from the dawn of writing to the present day from the primitive markings of stylus, brush and reed pen down through the epochal invention of movable type to the books and the newspapers of the power presses of today.”



By 1940, annual museum attendance was recorded at 8,311 and later rose to approximately 30,000. A didactic exhibition of photographic reproductions traveled to libraries, schools, and 26 other venues across 14 states. Interest eventually dimmed and in 1965 the museum collection was downsized through an auction at Parke- Bernet Galleries and in 1982, after it had been on view for 43 years, the remaining display was donated to the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Adler traveled to Princeton in 1939, where he delivered a lantern slide lecture about the museum display to members of the Princeton Bibliographical Society. He said “For nine-tenths of recorded time man has learned to write; for the last 500 years he has learned to print; and only yesterday he has learned to speed up printing,” Read more about the museum and Adler’s transition to Princeton: file:///C:/Users/jmellby/AppData/Local/Temp/prinunivlibrchro.73.3.0391.pdf


“Story of Recorded Word: New Exhibit Covers Six Thousand Years,” New York Times, April 24, 1938.

Aubrey Beardsley ‘covered in place’ at the Tate

Although the Tate Britain exhibition Aubrey Beardsley, with 10 exceptional drawings from Princeton University Library, has now closed due to CV19, the museum has posted an interesting video discussion here:

“Curator Stephen Calloway and drag performer Holly James Johnston sit down to tea to discuss the ‘dos and don’ts’ of dandyism according to artist Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley shocked and delighted Victorian London with his black and white drawings. In fact, the 1890s even became known in some circles as the ‘Beardsley Period’. At the centre of this decadent world was the ‘dandy’, an elegant and enigmatic character made famous by Beardsley and friends like Oscar Wilde. You can find out more about Beardsley in an exhibition of his work at Tate Britain, from 4 March to 25 May 2020:

Even today, Aubrey Beardsley drawings shock and delight. Here are a few of our drawings sent to London and currently safely “covered in place” on the Tate walls.


Don’t pay for a copy of our Gotterdammerung, as suggested below, here is a usable jpg:

Here is a paper list of the resources at Princeton University Library, for later in person use: file:///C:/Users/jmellby/AppData/Local/Temp/Bib.56701.Beardsley-catalogue-1952-Wainwright-mapped-with-call-numbers-2012.pdf

You can read the article “The Death of Aubrey Beardsley,” by Matthew Sturgis from the Princeton University Library Chronicle, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Autumn 1998), pp. 61 full text in jstor here:

Read the 1896 catalogue The Yellow Book: an Illustrated Quarterly from Elkin Mathews and John Lane at GoogleBooks:

The complete “Yellow Book” can be read online, also available in cut and paste-able plain text.


Hathi Trust offers many full text books including “Aubrey Beardsley and the Yellow Book,” from John Lane 1903 here:

There is much more, this is just a sample.


Online content for printing history and art history

Here are some links to online content reposted from the museum computer network (MCN). There are, of course, many more links but it is a good start. My own favorite additions:

A 12 part class on the history of photography from the George Eastman House:

The history of printing with Richard Benson following his book: The Printed Picture.

Versailles on Paper from the Graphic Arts Collection:

How to make an etching:



Online Exhibits


Created for Kids




Research on CLOVID’s Impact on Museums


The Science of Imaginary Solutions

Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Les minutes de sable mémorial (Paris: Mercure de France, 1894). The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman, 2017. PML 197017.

It is disappointing that the New York Times has not yet published a review of the Morgan Library & Museum’s exhibition and catalogue Alfred Jarry: The Carnival of Being, which opened two days ago during bibliography week. The first American museum exhibition devoted to the French writer and artist Jarry (1873-1907) was made possible thanks to the 2017 gift to the Morgan of the books and manuscripts from the Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman Pataphysics Collection.

Thomas Chimes (1921–2009), Alfred Jarry (Departure from the Present), 1973, oil on panel. The Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman Pataphysics Collection. Courtesy of Locks Gallery.

Jarry defined pataphysics as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.” The exhibition catalogue by Sheelagh Bevan, now in the Graphic Arts Collection, helps to further illuminate Jarry’s complex philosophy and art. She situates his brief career between Arthur Rimbaud’s “Une saison en enfer” and Pablo Picasso’s “Les demoiselles d’Avignon,” with his first major book published at the age of 21. What had you accomplished by 21?

Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), César-antechrist (Paris: Mercure de France, 1895).. Princeton University Library.

The small 1894 volume, Les minutes de sable, with exquisite woodcuts, is one of the most beautiful books ever published. Full stop. The Graphic Arts Collection copy is here: It was only topped by Jarry’s 1895 volume, Cesar antechrjst.

The Morgan has thoughtfully planned a full schedule of tours, performances, and a conference, all listed on the website:

If you can’t wait, see the 1965 performance of Jarry’s Ubu Roi on Ubuweb:
. Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), Ubu Roi (Dir. Jean-Christophe Averty, 1965).

Aubrey Beardsley’s “Die Götterdämmerung”

Ten drawings from Princeton University Library’s Aubrey Beardsley Collection, C0056, will be traveling to the exhibition Aubrey Beardsley on view at Tate Britain, London, from 4 March-25 May 2020. Among these are [above]: Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), Volpone Adoring His Treasure, pen and ink drawing, 1898. Published posthumously in Ben Jonson His Volpone, 1898. [Oversize » NE642.B363 J63, and four others]

Volpone was first brought out at the Globe Theatre in 1605, printed in quarto in 1607,  and was republished by Jonson in 1616 without alterations or additions.

“Beardsley appears to have been truly taken with Jonson’s play, writing F.H. Evans on 11 december: I am making pictures for Ben Jonson’s adorable and astonishing Volpone.” On the same day he informed Pollitt: “I carry Volpone about with me from dawn to dawn, and dream of nothing else.”The artist’s enthusiasm for the comedy is equally evident in his notes for the Volpone prospectus. “Daring and forcible in conception, brilliant and faultless in execution.” He writes, “It is undoubtedly the finest comedy in the English language outside the works of Shakespeare.” James G. Nelson, Publisher to the Decadents: Leonard Smithers in the Careers of Beardsley, Wilde, and Dowson (2010).

Also traveling to London will be [above] Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), Salomé with the Head of St. John the Baptist, ca. 1894. Pen and ink drawing. Although this was drawn to illustrate Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, it was not used. Aubrey Beardsley Collection, C0056, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

And most exciting: [below] Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), Die Götterdämmerung, 1892. Pen and ink, wash, and Chinese white. 12 1/8 x 20 1/4. Reproduced in A Second Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, London, 1899, p. [53]. From the collection of Robert Ross. [Gallatin 223] No. 17.

Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), is the last in Richard Wagner’s cycle of four music dramas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung, or The Ring for short). It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of the Ring.

Die Götterdämmerung,” notes Emma Sutton in Aubrey Beardsley and British Wagnerism in the 1890s (2002), “Beardsley’s only drawing of the concluding part of the Ring cycle, was probably prompted by the first performance for a decade of the Ring in London in June and July 1892. It is extremely likely that he attended a performance of the drama; he certainly attended Siegfried, and produced drawings on Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, and of the principle singers, in this year.

No interpretation of the drawing has, to my knowledge, ever been offered, perhaps because its stylistics might suggest that it is an incomplete or experimental, Impressionistic work. The drawing is, however, an intricate and highly knowledgeable representation of Wagner’s work, demonstrating Beardsley’s comprehensive knowledge of Die Götterdämmerung (and, indeed, of the whole cycle) from the very start of the decade. Beardsley presents the gods shrouded in long drapes in a bleak forest setting; with their elongated limbs and enveloping robes they appear androgynous figures, listless and melancholy, entrapped by the sharp bare stems that rise from the border and ground around them.

Despite the undulating lines of the landscape, Die Gotterdammerung is a scene of desolate stasis, bleakly portraying Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods. A compression of several scenes from Wagner’s drama, the drawing is, I would suggest, an extraordinarily innovative and ambitious attempt to evoke concisely the narrative events and cumulative tone of the entire drama.”
–Emma Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley and British Wagnerism in the 1890s (2002)

Tate Britain calls this the largest exhibition of Beardsley drawings for 50 years. “Aubrey Beardsley shocked and delighted late-Victorian London with his sinuous black and white drawings. He explored the erotic and the elegant, the humorous and grotesque, winning admirers around the world with his distinctive style. Spanning seven years, this exhibition will cover Beardsley’s intense and prolific career as a draughtsman and illustrator, cut short by his untimely death from tuberculosis, aged 25. Beardsley’s charismatic, enigmatic persona played a part in the phenomenon that he and his art generated, so much so that Max Beerbohm dubbed the 1890s the ‘Beardsley Period’.”

A library for our times, cash only

From now until February 28, 2020, the lounge at 185 Nassau Street, Lewis Center for the Arts, has “slipped into a reading lounge. Sitting next to the existing vending machine with snacks is its fraternal partner, 2019-20 Hodder Fellow Ryan Gander’s vending machine containing USB sticks of over 300 annotated essays. Collected together to form a library for our times, The Annotated Reader project includes texts of almost 300 contributors including the Faculty in Visual Arts. Is there one piece of writing that you would want with you for company in the small hours? All are welcome to come sit and read.”

Unlike his art vending machine that dispensed random artworks for a £500 fee during the London Frieze arts fair last fall, the Princeton vending machine only costs $1.00 for a complete book. The art machine contained a total of 125 items, including stones that Gander has collected with his children, as well as cast versions of some of the most widely used and affordable digital watches.

“The rest of the installation [at Frieze] includes paintings and a book, which is a version If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, a 1979 novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino, that Gander has re-typed using a typeface of his own invention that no one can read, in which the letters are replaced by shapes of stones–the same stones that can be obtained from the vending machine. The paintings are enlarged pages from the book, printed using the illegible stone typeface, then annotated over by the artist with black ink. ‘I repeated the annotations over them with a large calligraphy brush. They become a form of censorship, it makes them illegible in a way. But through that process they become an abstract, expressionist motif of what art is,’ he said. ‘The book is published. We will distribute these unreadable books in hospitals, prisons, hotels, lighthouses — places that have time abundance and attention abundance,’ he continued, adding that he’s replaced the bible in the hotel room up for grabs with a copy of the book.—Jacopo Prisco, CNN

Gander currently lives and creates in London and Suffolk, visiting Princeton periodically during his fellowship year. His work encompasses graphic design, installation, performance, and more, and he has garnered international attention as he challenges notions of knowledge, language, and understanding. He is drawn to the contradictions in paradoxes and the ambiguity of life. His work often unites the mundane and commonplace with the aberrant and extraordinary.

His recent solo shows include exhibitions at Esther Schipper in Berlin, The National Museum of Art in Osaka, Hyundai Gallery in Seoul, Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, and Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester. His most recent publications include The Boy That Always Looked Up, Picasso and I, and the monograph Culturefield. He has been presented with the 2007 Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Arts, the 2006 ABN AMRO prize of the Netherlands and the 2009 Zürich Art Prize.

Gander studied at Manchester Metropolitan in the U.K., Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and the Jan van Eyck Akademie, both in the Netherlands. He has been a visiting lecturer at a number of European art schools throughout the continent. He was also awarded Doctor of Arts of the Manchester Metropolitan University and Honoris Causa for his efforts in academia.—

Graphic MoMA

[left] Book shelves as wallpaper.

A first look at the rehung MoMA revealed a surprising number of works on paper, lettrism, fluxus, artists’ books, visual poetry, and other graphic arts. Beginning with the major exhibitions such as Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, there are more than the usual number of letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs of text, in and among the oil on canvas.

“The Museum of Modern Art will open its expanded campus on October 21, 2019, with a reimagined presentation of modern and contemporary art.

The expansion, developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, adds more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces and enables the Museum to exhibit significantly more art in new and interdisciplinary ways.

The Studio in the heart of the Museum will feature live programming and performances that react to, question, and challenge histories of modern art and the current cultural moment. …Street-level galleries, free and open to all on the expanded ground floor, will better connect the Museum to New York City and bring art closer to people on the streets of midtown Manhattan.”

Here are a few examples:

Mirtha Dermisache, Augusto de Campos, et al. Visual poetry.


Dieter Roth (1930-1998), Literature Sausage, 1969. Artists’ proof.

Various artists, Fluxkit, 1965-66. Designed and assembled by George Maciunas.

Mira Schendel (1919-1988), untitled from Objetos graficos, 1967.




Finishing touches in the Frank O’Hara room

Wall corner note


Waldemar Cordeiro, et al., Manifesto Ruptura, 1952.


Lygia Pape (1927-2004), Livro da criação  (Book of Creation), 1958-1960.


The Black Factory Archive, 2004-

Stony Island Arts Bank

“How do we start to imagine ourselves as deeper caretakers of the things that exist in the world?” —Theaster Gates
In 2012 Gates purchased the Stony Island Trust & Savings Bank for one dollar. Today, “the Stony Island Arts Bank is a hybrid gallery, media archive, library and community center … built in 1923, the bank … had closed and the building remained vacant and deteriorating for decades. Reopened in October 2015, the radically restored building serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage.” —

Forget about the $30 million sale of the Johnson Publishing’s historic Ebony and Jet magazine photo archive, the Johnson Publishing Archive + Collections was donated, free of charge, to the Arts Bank collection.

“The archive features more than 15,000 items including books, periodicals, ephemera, paintings, and sculpture, along with original furnishings and interior design elements custom-designed for JPC’s downtown Chicago offices by Arthur Elrod.”

The library, including complete runs of Jet and Ebony along with African history, American literature, and more, is open to all researchers.

Other collections include the University of Chicago glass magic lantern slides, over 60,000 slides of art and architectural history from the Paleolithic to Modern eras.

“In 2009, the Visual Resources Center’s historic collection of lantern slides at the University of Chicago was digitized and donated to artist Theaster Gates. Since then, a public digital collection has been made available online, the physical slides have been a part of several artist projects, and now the collection is permanently housed in the new Stony Island Arts Bank, a cultural venue for the community on the South Side of Chicago.”

They also quietly house the Edward J. Williams Collection: 4,000 objects of “negrobilia” – mass cultural objects and artifacts that feature stereotypical images of black people., and Frankie Knuckles Records: “Godfather of House Music,” Frankie Knuckles’ vinyl collection. “Frankie Knuckles, a club disc jockey, remixer and producer who was often called the “godfather of house” for helping that percussive genre of dance music spread from Chicago nightclubs to global popularity and influence, died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 59.”–

The Stony Island Arts Bank is several blocks south of the site of the Chicago Columbian Exposition and the upcoming Barack Obama Presidential Center The New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA), who designed Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, will design President Barack Obama’s presidential library.

This October 2019 Gates brings his Black Artist Retreat, an annual event in Chicago, to New York for a two-day event including roller skating, music and performances.–

see more: The HistoryMakers video oral history with Theaster Gates