Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 700s

739: Faberge’s Eggs by Tony Faber

DDC_739

739.2092: Faber, Tony. Faberge’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire. New York: Random House, 2008. 241 pp. ISBN 978-1-58836-707-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 730: Plastic arts and sculpture
  • 739: Art metalwork
  • 739.2: Works in precious metals
  • 739.2092: Biography and special persons

Eggs are very plain things. But when Russian jeweler Carl Gustavovitch Faberge realized a design around them, they turned into the most sought-after pieces in modern art history. Tony Faber’s Faberge’s Eggs is not only a look into the history of the bejeweled eggs, but also a history of Russia proper. From Czar Nicholas II’s coronation in 1894 to his abdication in 1917, the eggs chronicle the czar’s relationships with his mother, his wife, his children, and his country.

Faberge’s workshop, over the course of its lifetime in Moscow, produced 69 beautifully jeweled eggs, but only 50 are considered imperial eggs. These are the pieces ordered by the czar to be given at first from Czar Alexander II to his wife Maria Fedorovna each Easter. Upon Alexander’s death, Nicholas continued the tradition, first giving them just to his mother and then to both his mother and his wife. Each egg presented had special meaning and a special name, starting with the Jeweled Hen Egg (1885) and ending with the sadly unfinished and unpresented Constellation Egg (1917). Faber not only follows the creation and presentation of each egg, but also the saga of their respective ownerships to the present day.

There are times when Faber’s writing gets bogged down with names, places, dates, and politics, but they are few and far between. Luckily, several helpful appendices are added on, including an extended royal family tree, a condensed chronology of the eggs, and a basic Russian term glossary. A few lovely color pictures in the middle of the book highlight the beauty of the eggs, and overall, this was a very pleasant read.

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708: Art and Its Publics, edited by Andrew McClellan

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708: McClellan, Andrew, ed. Art and Its Publics: Museum Studies at the Millennium. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. 200 pp. ISBN 0-631-23046-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 708: Galleries, museums, and private collections of fine and decorative arts

Art and Its Publics collects essays from various museum studies professionals to engage the reader to think about museums and art galleries and other exhibition spaces and how the public thinks and acts in them. It’s quite a heady subject as each person has differing agendas when going to a museum. The editor’s essay on the types of publics reveals that throughout history there has always been a discussion about who goes to museum and why, and if knowing those reasons attracts or detracts more visitors.

Other essays looks at private museums, public art exhibitions, how the public evaluates what is art in the first place, and how exhibition layouts and signage play into patron bias. Each essay is insightful (or at the very least informative) in its own right, and all throughout reading, I felt compelled to go to a museum to see how various tidbits from the book were present, so it does get the reader thinking about museums.

Is it a fun read? Decidedly not. But, if you are at all interesting in how museum directors and curators make decisions about their collections and exhibitions, then there are probably far worse books you could read. All in all, it was worth the time I put into it.

750: The Louvre

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750: Laclotte, Michel and Jean-Pierre Cuzin. The Louvre: Paintings. Paris, France: Editions Scala, 2000. 284 pp. ISBN 2-86656-236-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 750: Painting and paintings

On August 10, 1793, a wondrous building was made open to the public. Exactly one year before, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the monarchy felled. The National Assembly urged that the works of art hoarded by Louis and previous kings be collected and displayed so that they could preserve the national memory. At it’s opening, The Louvre showcased 537 paintings and 184 other objects of art. From there started an interesting and sometimes sordid history. Michel Laclotte and Jean-Pierre Cuzin’s The Louvre gives a history of each of the museum’s major collection, but more importantly, displays a wide variety of the museum’s pieces in glorious color plates.

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728: The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka

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728.37: Susanka, Sarah. The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 2001. 194 pp. ISBN 1-56158-611-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 720: Architecture
  • 728: Residential and related buildings
  • 3: Specific kinds of conventional housing
  • 37: Separate houses

For a while there, people wanted large houses—big kitchens, big vaults, big bedrooms. But now, with a greater social awareness and rapid population comes the thought that there might be a limit to how much living space a person actually needs. Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House takes a look at how living spaces can be modified or built to accommodate a whole range of needs without becoming sprawling ranch houses.

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771: Vermeer’s Camera by Philip Steadman

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771: Steadman, Philip. Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 165 pp. ISBN 0-19-215967-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 770: Photography, photographs, and computer art
  • 771: Techniques, procedures, apparatus, equipment, and materials

There have been many times I’ve looked at a piece of art and wondered how they created it. From Escher’s mind-blowing drawings to Calder’s amazingly delicate mobiles, how artists engineer their art is almost as interesting as the art itself. In Vermeer’s Camera, Philip Steadman painstakingly details the use of the camera obscura in Vermeer’s paintings. His investigations not only gives us a peek at the artist’s technique and practical knowledge, but also illuminate the very intriguing intersection of science and art.

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790: Mongo by Ted Botha

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790.132: Botha, Ted. Mongo: Adventures in Trash. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004. 242 pp. ISBN 1-58234-567-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 790: Recreational and performing arts
  • 790.1: General kinds of recreational activities
  • 790.13: Activities generally engaged in by individuals
  • 790.132: Collecting

If you’ve ever seen an object on the side of the road or fished something from a dumpster or a trash pile, then you’ve engaged in mongo. In the traditional sense, mongo is any object that been discarded but now retrieved. Mongo can either be for profit or pleasure (or sometimes both). Mongo culture comes with many different subdivisions: people mongo for food, books, furniture, car parts, antiques, or just for decoration. For some, mongo is their only way of surviving, and for others, it’s a side project. Ted Botha’s Mongo is look into this often-invisible subculture.

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769: The Error World by Simon Garfield

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769.56092: Garfield, Simon. The Error World: An Affair with Stamps. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 245 pp. ISBN 978-0-15-101396-8.

 

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Arts and Recreation
  • 760: Printmaking and prints
  • 769: Prints
  • 769.5: Forms of prints
  • 769.56: Postage stamps and related devices
  • +092: Biography

We are all of us collectors. Be it books, baseballs cards, or Barbie dolls, what we gather into our lives defines us in some way. Simon Garfield’s life seems to be one of not only collecting, but of crisis and loss. From his first experience with stamp collecting, he was hooked, but his pseudo-obsession with philately would cost him more than money. In his The Error World, he looks at the history of both stamp-making and stamp collecting as well as the trajectory of his own life in relation to his hobby.

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