A watercolor portrait of Jane Austen commissioned by her nephew in 1869 sold for $270,000 at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. The anonymous private collector who purchased it called the portrait “the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever to appear on the open market.” The painting by James Andrews was taken from a pencil portrait by Austen’s sister Cassandra and is thought to be the “only confirmed portrait of Austen made before her death in 1817.” The pencil portrait is owned by the National Gallery in London. You can read more in this NYT article.
A library in Greenfield, MA, boasts a display of catalog cards signed by the author noted on the card. Hope Schneider has been requesting autographs from authors for 14 years (since the end of the catalog) and the collection is up to 128 items.
See this article for interesting responses to her requests- is it an honor to the card catalog or a sign of its destruction?
Los Angeles financier Richard Hollander and his wife Jackie own a private collection of more than 500 Edward Steichen photographs. Their highly coveted collection includes Steichen’s landscapes and city scenes, as well as his celebrity and fashion images. Now Mr. Hollander will be making Steichen’s work accessible to the public by giving three American museums some of these vintage photographs. Along with New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Evanston’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University will each receive more than 40 works. Block Museum Director Lisa Corrin calls the gift “transformative”. After these donations, the Hollanders plan on keeping some and giving others to museums internationally. “I’d like to share my vision with the world” Mr Hollander said. How lucky that he’s sharing it with our community. You can read more in today’s NYT article here.
This fascinating blog post suggests a few beautiful books that explain how to reuse, re-purpose, or recycle books into art objects or practical items. They seem to range in level of ease to produce, but the photos are inviting all the same.
When an old book seems beyond any useful task, too old and yellow to read, with a crumbling cover or a loose binding, most of us will sigh and put it out to book pasture, either through a donation to Amvets (who can even make money off rags) or reluctantly throw it in the trash! (We’re not speaking of gently used books that should go to EPL booksales.)
Not so for Su Blackwell, a talented British artist who can make a scene from a book come to life directly from the book’s own pages. She clearly is a gifted paper artist, however, with the additional use of lighting, wires, and I don’t know what else, she produces a 3D sense of depth and even motion. Her delicate projects display birds flying or pieces of words floating in the air! See here for a fascinating collection of paper artists, including Blackwell.
I enjoyed her work more than some others who design bizarrely shaped “artwork” with old books. Certainly the range of art value as opposed to plain recycling is seen in these projects, too. I found some items quite unsettling or plain unappealing. Compare the images for yourself.
(Her work is similar to the sculptures posted on Off the Shelf recently, but she’s not leaving them around libraries–they’re too expensive!)
A phantom sculptor has been leaving beautiful paper sculptures in libraries and museums all over Edinburgh, Scotland — really amazing artworks created from books and paper. One sculpture of a gramophone and a coffin was sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin’s book Exit Music. Another sculpture had a tag on it that read: “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas”. Check out this NPR article for more info and pictures.
Now that e-books are becoming more convenient and more popular, many publishers are concerned that paper books will be ignored this coming holiday season. To increase their value, old-fashioned print books are getting a makeover with new and beautiful covers. ” If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading. ” Read the rest of this NYT article here.
The ten best illustrated children’s books of this year were announced in the November 3 issue of The New York Times. The artwork from the winners will appear in the special Children’s Book section of the Book Review’s Nov. 13 issue. See the article and some of the art here.
From CNN News (online) comes report of discovery by archaeologists of what they believe is a 100,000-year-old paint workshop in Blombos Cave, South Africa, about 186 miles east of Cape Town. Researchers found hammers and grindstones that could have been used to make ochre powder in the cave (ochre which contains red or yellow oxides is “basically early paint.”) Researchers think the cave was used as a workshop, and the paint used as body decoration or antiseptic for preparing animal skins, or both. Read the fascinating article here.
Laura, Reader’s Services
Armchair travelers will love Google’s new site where you can go to 17 museums around the world, click on artwork, and zoom in or out to get close-ups of brushstrokes, etc. The reviewer of this NYT article says the web site is still a work in progress, with glitches and not-so-good representations in some cases, but is mesmerizing. She says she never noticed before the small group of women “skinny-dipping” in the background of Bruegel’s “Harvesters.”