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Art Library/Archives

Art Books are Fun, Now Go Play!

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian
Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. (Full captions below)
One of the most fascinating (and fun) books in the Museum’s rare book collection is a set of books by the artist Victor Vasarely.

Vasarely’s four-volume set Plastic Arts (1970), which features numerous color plates, foldouts and loose plastic overlays, not only exemplifies his unique approach to art, but equips the viewer with a finite set of colors and forms to play with and manipulate.

See our combinations below.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Milwaukee’s Greatest! … Circa 1892

William J. Anderson and Julius Bleyer. Milwaukee's great industries: a compilation of facts concerning Milwaukee's commercial and manufacturing enterprises, its trade and commerce, and the advantages it offers to manufacturers seeking desirable locations for new or established industries. Milwaukee: Association for the Advancement of Milwaukee, 1892. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library by Don M. Kaminsky (1941-2009).
William J. Anderson and Julius Bleyer. Milwaukee’s great industries: a compilation of facts concerning Milwaukee’s commercial and manufacturing enterprises, its trade and commerce, and the advantages it offers to manufacturers seeking desirable locations for new or established industries. Milwaukee: Association for the Advancement of Milwaukee, 1892. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library by Don M. Kaminsky (1941-2009).

Recently, I had the opportunity to open an interesting book in the Museum’s Library entitled Milwaukee’s Great Industries (1892). This 352-page tome features a history of Milwaukee, articles on its various industries, schools, churches, trades, a variety of advertisements, and a list of city facts entitled “Milwaukee in a Nutshell.”

Did you know that in 1892, Milwaukee produced $135 million in goods; had the biggest iron foundry in the world; or produced fully one-third of all the tin-ware used in the United States? And yes, Milwaukee officially had the largest brewery and tannery in the world!

Last but certainly not least–did you know that, in 1892, Milwaukee also had “one of the finest art galleries in the land, and several of the best private art collections in the world”?

You had me at “one of the finest in the land.”

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

The Heady Appeal of Soap Sculpture Competitions

Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. January 1, 1931. Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 9
Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. January 1, 1931. Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 9
While browsing the Museum’s 120+ year history and its more than 3,500 exhibitions, patterns reflecting shifts in cultural taste, local craft, and major world events, are apparent.

History also reveals patterns that sidestep the obvious cultural or historical narrative to stand on their own. One such pattern appears in the series of soap sculpture competitions held at the Museum (known then as the Milwaukee Art Institute) from 1927-1940. At least fifteen national and local soap-sculpture competitions and exhibitions were held over a tirteen-year period.

How did soap sculpting become such a popular part of local and national practice so quickly? The answer, it turns out, was no further away than my own grocery list.

Categories
Library/Archives

Museum Art Library – Used Book Sale March 1 – 4!

Art books to be sold to benefit the Milwaukee Art Museum library acquisition fund. Photo by the author.
Art books to be sold to benefit the George Peckham Miller Art Research Library’s book acquisition fund. Photo by the author.

It’s book sale time again! At the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Art Research Library Used Book Sale, you’ll find wonderful materials that are either duplicative or outside of our Library’s collecting area. And, of course, all proceeds benefit the Art Library’s book acquisition fund.

During the first days of March, discover bound treasures, used books on art and art history-related subjects from the Museum’s George Peckham Miller Art Research Library as well as select sale gifts, home and fashion accessories from the Museum Store.

Whether you are on the lookout for books on the paintings of Pablo Picasso, the sculpture of Gaston Lachaise or the drawings of Georgia O’Keeffe, we have books on your favorite artists. And don’t pass up the catalog on the Louvre – we sell it cheaper than a round-trip flight to Paris!

Hope you can join us at this wonderful annual opportunity to let your shopping habits benefit the Museum’s Art Research Library!!

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Connecting Orson Welles to the Milwaukee Art Institute

Orson Welles.  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection. Reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231
Orson Welles. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection. Reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231
Born on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Academy Award-winning filmmaker (George) Orson Welles’ childhood was a Hollywood story of its own.

His father, Richard Head Welles, was a successful inventor and businessman who made a fortune inventing a carbide bicycle lamp. His mother, Beatrice Ives, was an accomplished pianist and spoken word performer. By the age of six, his parents were separated and Welles moved back to Chicago with Beatrice where she had family. Not long after they arrived in Chicago, however, his beloved mother would die of jaundice when Welles was just nine years old. His father, losing his battle with alcohol, would die when Welles was only 15.

In the wake of Ives’ death, Dudley Crafts Watson (1885-1972), a native of Wisconsin and a cousin of Beatrice Ives, became Welles’ guardian in Chicago. Watson, a vocal advocate for the arts, was the very first director of the Milwaukee Art Institute–which was renamed from the Milwaukee Art Society shortly after Watson’s arrival, and is known today as the Milwaukee Art Museum.