Category Archives: Uncategorized

Taking a break, back in September

Dutch designer Maarten Baas’s giant Real Time Schiphol timepiece replaces traditional clock hands with a 12-hour-long video performance (+ movie). The three-metre-high clock has been installed in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and features a film showing Baas drawing and redrawing the clock’s hands with a roller and paint. Intended to portray a “hyper-realistic representation of time”, the video took exactly 12 hours to film and will take as long to watch in its entirety.

More Books with Money

Thanks to those who responded with suggestions about where to find money in books. Dimitri Gondicas, Stanley J. Seeger Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, The Council of the Humanities, and Lecturer in Classics at Princeton University pointed to this volume with 24 banknotes mounted on 9 pages. “The banknotes inside,” he writes, “are testimony of the rampant inflation during the WWII German Occupation of Greece.”

The anonymous author writes: “For us Greeks and the future generations the collection of bank notes and paper money put into circulation by the Italians and Germans will be a horrible nightmare and an uncontradicted proof of the hardships that our cruelly tried country has gone through. The Institute of Mining Credit worked out this collection as a symbol for one of Greece’s most heroic eras, which rivals its previous ones in magnitude. This collection represents one of the most important financial events of the most devastating war the world has ever gone through.”

Unfortunately, the bank notes are so gently tipped into the volume, many are already beginning to separate from the page. All except the final example are legitimate and rare.


Oikonomikē syntrivē tēs Hellados, Aprilios 1941-Noemvrios 1944 = Financial Breakdown of Greece, April 1941-November 1944 (Athens, Greece: The Establishment of Mining Credit Corporation, Scientific Section–Historical Collections, [1945?]). 2nd ed. At head of title: Hotan hoi Nazi kataktoun = When the Nazis conquer. On cover: Oikonomika gegonota tou deuterou Pankosmiou Polemou = Financial Facts of the World War II. Ex 2014-0277Q

The Cries of New York

In honor of the U.S. Open, here is a tennis player carved into the Murray Hill Building at 285 Madison Avenue. Nearly 100 grotesques frame the ground floor doors of this 1926 office building designed by Rouse & Goldstone for developer Isaac Harby. The building’s first tenants were Mad Men Young and Rubicam, fulfilling their contract with Jello to move the company to New York. Here are some other figures at 285 Mad.

See also: Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), Cries of London (London, 1820). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Rowlandson 1820.01q

Ronald Sheridan, Gargoyles and grotesques (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975). Marquand Library (SA) NB170.S47

Laurel Masten Cantor, The gargoyles of Princeton University ([Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, Office of Communications/Publications, 1983]). Architecture Library (UES) LD4611 .C36

Henry Hall decoration

The Class of 1904-Howard Henry Memorial Dormitory (first occupied in 1923) was designed by M B. Medary, Jr. as an upper-class dorm honoring Howard Houston Henry (1882-1919), Samuel Franklin Pogue, and John Baird Atwood, members of the class of 1904, who died during World War I.

While at Princeton, Henry played football for the Tigers and was selected as an All-American halfback in 1903. To each side of the Henry Hall front door are memorials to Henry’s athletic achievements [above].

Under the windows are reliefs with familiar revolutionary war scenes of George Washington crossing the Delaware and the Battle of Princeton. Around the corner on Foulke Hall (first occupied in 1921) is a similar relief celebrating aviation.

The March 11, 1955, Alumni Weekly clarifies it further:

The stone carvings which decorate virtually every building on the Princeton campus are a source of wonder to us, especially as they are so little known or observed. This one is at eye level on the east façade of Foulke Hall. The significance of the airplane is the Walter L. Foulke ’05, in whose name the dormitory was given by his family and classmates, was a pioneer aviator. Among his more colorful exploits was his leadership of a party of aviators who flew from Long Island to the Yale-Princeton football game of 1915-16. Foulke died in service in World War I, not as an aviator, but as the fatal victim of pneumonia. …


Above each building’s plaques are statues of St. George and St. Michael by A. Sterling Calder,  flanked by swords overlaid with open books. For more information, take the gargoyles tour:




How to Become a Part-Owner in Firmin-Didot, 1885

The French printer and type founder Firmin Didot (1764-1836) was a member of the Didot legacy of printers, punch-cutters, publishers, and paper manufacturers. Thanks to his significant contributions to French printing and modern type design, Napoleon appointed Didot the director of the Imprimerie Impériale typefoundry. When he retired in 1827, his sons Ambroise-Firmin Didot (1790-1876) and Hyacinthe Didot (1794-1880) took the management of the publishing business.

In April of 1885, ownership of the Paris firm of Firmin-Didot, 56 Rue Jacob, was divided into 1000 shares at 4000 francs each. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired one of the rare certificates giving the owner 1,000th of the prestigious bookseller-publisher. Note the certificate has yet to be filled in, meaning that all the shares were not sold. It also specifies: “This share is transmissible,” and the transfer forms are also included here.


In the name of Mr. ____ following declaration in the transfer book. The Managers

See also: André Jammes, Spécimens de caractères de Firmin et Jules Didot ([Paris]: Librairie Paul Jammes: Editions des Cendres, 2002). Copy no. 21 of 275 exemplaires, in portfolio box; prospectus and sample pages laid in. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize Z232.D53 J36 2002e

Eugène Piton, Famille Firmin-Didot, imprimeurs, libraires, fondeurs, graveurs, papetiers, inventeurs et littérateurs (Paris: Se trouve chez l’éditeur [Impr. de H. Carion] 1856). Rare Books (Ex) 2004-1687N

Air Ink

Graviky Labs co-founders Anirudh Sharma and Nikhil Kaushik have come up with an ink made from air pollution, which they call Air Ink. Each 30-milliliter Graviky pen contains 30 to 50 minutes’ worth of air pollution generated by a single car.

“If that [soot] was in the air, it could give you cancer,” says Sharma, co-founder and director of Graviky, who graduated from the Fluid Interfaces Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in the United States.

“Taking particles captured by a cylindrical device on a car’s exhaust pipe, Graviky has developed Air Ink, oil-based paints, spray paints, and pens that contain pigments derived from carbon soot. In August, Graviky teamed up with Tiger Beer to provide local Hong Kong artists with 150 liters of Air Ink—from 2,500 hours’ worth of pollution—to create street murals. Their products aren’t currently sold commercially. They hope cities will use Graviky’s devices to revamp public transportation.” –Graviky Labs

Sharma, Kaushik, and two others have been refining their technology for more than a year and recently soft-launched their Air-Ink product as a Kickstarter project with a nearly $10,000 goal. They also hope to make black-ink production more sustainable and environmentally friendly. “We are replacing the consumption of fossil fuels to make carbon black [inks],” they say.

Pledges to kickstarter have far outreached the original goal but it is still possible to order your own bottle of air [pollution] ink.

Replacement kittens for the end of the week


In case you haven’t found the latest Chrome extension, Make America Kittens Again can be added to your Google Chrome browser to automatically detect images of Donald Trump on the web and change them to photographs of kittens. It works especially well with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.



It works equally well with other members of the Trump family. Depending on the number of images, the replacement can take a few minutes. Give it a try.



When seen in person, these two well-known triptychs surprise the viewer in several ways. They are not flat paint but multimedia collage with molded gesso, string, glass, and other common materials. And they are not the work of a single artist but two. Originally installed at opposite sides of Catherine Cranston’s early twentieth-century Glasgow tea room, the mural above entitled “Wassail” is by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and “May Queen” below is by Margaret MacDonald (1864-1933) who trained alongside Charles and eventually married him.

While it is Charles who is always credited with receiving the commission and designing all aspects of the tearoom, Glasgow natives are fond of repeating his comment, “Margaret has genius, I have only talent.” In the early 1900s, the Mackintoshes worked on a series of interiors but unfortunately, Cranston’s business on Ingram Street was demolished. Today, only the Willow Tea Rooms (1903) remains intact.may queen

mackintoshArtist unknown, Stained glass from tenement room, ca. 1910.

Su Friedrich’s “Sink or Swim” added to the National Film Registry

Sink or swim [electronic resource] by Su Friedrich. West Hollywood, CA : Stag Films, 2013. One online resource (47 min.).

Congratulations to Princeton University Professor of Visual Arts Su Friedrich, whose 1990 documentary “Sink or Swim” has been added to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress. The autobiographical story about the schism between a daughter and her father can be viewed here:;2180783

index“Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao announced today the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. These films, which epitomize the diversity and richness of the nation’s cinematic heritage, have been identified as motion pictures that deserve to be preserved because of their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance.

‘Selecting a film for the National Film Registry recognizes its importance to cinema and America’s cultural and artistic history,’ said Mao. ‘The registry is an invaluable way to advance public awareness of the richness, creativity and variety of our nation’s film heritage.’”

For a complete list of the 2015 inductees, see

From the registry:
Sink or Swim (1990). In this autobiographical tale told in voice-over by a teenage girl (Jessica Lynn), Su Friedrich relates a series of 26 short vignettes that reveal a subtext of a father preoccupied by his career and of a daughter emotionally scarred by his behavior. Black-and-white film clips of ordinary daily activities illustrate Friedrich’s poetically powerful text to create a complex and intense film. Of this work, which garnered numerous festival awards, Friedrich wrote, “The issue for me is to be more direct, or honest, about my experiences, but also to be analytical. ‘Sink or Swim’ is personal, but it’s also very analytical, or rigorously formal.”

Friedrich’s films and videos have been featured in retrospectives at major museums and festivals, and she has received both Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships. Michael Zyrd wrote in Senses of Cinema: “The textures, cinematic and emotional, of Friedrich’s work are both private and highly mediated, embodying an aesthetic style and range of concerns that make her one of the most innovative and accessible artists currently working in the dynamic tradition of the modernist American Avant-Garde.”

One More Spring

dwiggins one more spring2

One of AIGA’s fifty best books of 1936 was One More Spring with hand-stenciled color by William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956), who also designed the binding. Each of the 750 copies sold for $10 and it continues to be a favorite of book collectors.
dwiggins one more spring7
While many of his books were designed to look like stencil printing, the final editions were in fact printed from relief metal blocks. This title, however, clearly states that the designs were stenciled by Dwiggins and so, I take it as fact. The flat areas of color show no evidence of a human hand but the artist was extremely precise. I would not want to second guess him. What do you think?

At this point in his career, Dwiggins did all the work himself from his home studio in Hingham, Massachusetts, separating the design into individual stencils and cutting them from celluloid sheets. Several designs include one stencil repeated many times to form a picture. For painting on the color, he cut off a shaving brush since he didn’t have the traditional animal-hair pompon.

dwiggins one more spring8The artist wrote, “the cutting is done into bits of celluloid taped in place over the pen drawings of the elements. After the ties have been located, a light cutting is made, not all the way through the film, and if necessary, French chalk rubbed into the scratches. Then over black paper to let you see where to go, a final cut is made through the film.

Curator Philip Hofer called Dwiggins, “America’s one truly modern typographer, and by far her most outstanding book decorator and calligrapher; a mechanical wizard, type designer, and specialist in advertising layout; an illustrator, mural painter, costume designer, and sculptor, a playwright, satirist, and perhaps beyond ever the best of his art – a thinker and poet in prose.”

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dwiggins one more spring5

dwiggins one more spring1

Robert Nathan (1894-1985), One More Spring. (Stamford, Conn.: Overbrook Press, 1935). 20 stenciled decorations by W.A. Dwiggins. Edition of 750. Presentation letter from Frank Altschul to Elmer Adler, dated October 29, 1935, laid in. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) PS3527.A74 O6 1935.