Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: art

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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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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733: The Elgin Affair by Theodore Vrettos

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733.309385: Vrettos, Theodore. The Elgin Affair: The True Story of the Greatest Theft in History. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2011. 212 pp. ISBN 1-6114-5315-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 730: Plastic arts and sculpture
  • 733: Greek, Roman, and Etruscan sculpture
  • 733.3: Greek (Hellenic) sculpture
  • +09385: Ancient Attica to 323 CE

From 1801 to 1812, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, acquired some of the greatest sculptures in the Western world. His agents loaded priceless pieces of art onto barges and boats so that he could sell them to the British Museum for safekeeping. By 1812, he had removed 17 statues, 15 metope panels, 247 feet of frieze, and several other pieces of the Parthenon from Greece. Needless to say, this was all highly suspect and entirely illegal. Theodore Vrettos’s The Elgin Affair chronicles the history of the displacement and how the selfishness of a single 19th century official can lead to strained relations two hundred years later.

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776: Metacreation by Mitchell Whitelaw

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776: Whitelaw, Mitchell. Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004. 237 pp. ISBN 0-262-23234-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 770: Photography, photographs, and computer art
  • 776: Computer art

When a computer generates an image, is it art? Can the image be random pixels, or must there be human guidance of what the computer generates? In Metacreation, Mitchell Whitelaw looks at the history of computer-generated and computer-related art from the perspective of both an art curator and a historian. Whitelaw’s first concern is introducing the reader to the field of artificial life art, or “a-life art.” In this case, artificial life is the creation of biological processes in a technological environment, or having a computer simulate complex natural interactions using code and rule sets. Then, using the simulated processes, the artists create works that show how the worlds of technology and biology interact.

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720: Gaudi by Juan-Eduardo Cirlot

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720.92: Cirlot, Juan-Eduardo. Gaudi: An Introduction to His Architecture. N.P.: Triangle Postal, 2001. 210 pp. ISBN 84-89815-94-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 720: Architecture
  • +092: Biography

Antoni Gaudi i Cornet (1852 – 1926) was perhaps one of the most inventive architects of all time. His works were Seussian before Seuss was Seussian. The building he conceived, drafted, and had built have to be seen to be believed. From the Neo-gothic windows on the Palacio Episcopal de Astorga to the bulbous terraces on the Casa Mila, his innovations and additions to the field gave people a new interest in how buildings were made. His most significant work, the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, won’t be finished for another 12 to 14 years. Juan-Eduardo Cirlot’s Gaudi is a splendid look at the life, philosophy, and leaps of intuition that Gaudi experienced as one of the foremost designers of his time.

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718: Last Landscapes by Ken Worpole

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718: Worpole, Ken. Last Landscapes: The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West. London: Reaktion Books, 2003. 199 pp. ISBN 1-86189-161-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 710: Civic and landscape art
  • 718: Landscape design of cemeteries

“Architecture in Western Europe begins with tombs,” Ken Worpole tells us. His Last Landscapes is a prescient look into the proliferation and metamorphosis of graveyards, cemeteries, churchyards, and burial sites over the last two millennia. From the simple burial mounds of England’s early inhabitants to the ornate sculptures of Victorian graves, Worpole’s discussion of Western cemeteries is complex, nuanced, and beautiful. To understand places like these, you have to see them, and there are plenty of photographs of modern and classical graveyards and mausoleums included in this book. The author writes about death, burial, and landscapes from many angles—cultural, social, artistic, and personal. While his travels to various cemeteries are centered around England, he goes to the Netherlands, North America, and Italy to look at burial architecture in a more global light. Journeying into Eastern architecture would have made this volume a great deal larger, but I think that contrast would have made the book that much richer. All in all, though, this was quite an interesting book.

751: The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti by Rafael Schachter

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751.73: Schachter, Rafael. The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti. 393 pp. ISBN 978-0-300-19942-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Art
  • 750: Painting and paintings
  • 751: Painting techniques, procedures, apparatus, equipment, materials, or forms
  • 751.7: Specific forms
  • 751.73: Murals and frescoes

Say what you will about street art, it isn’t going anywhere. It can be galling or beautiful. It can inspire passers-by or simply blend into the scenery. The original print for the Obama Hope campaign was spawned from a piece of street art. Rafael’s World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti is a massive undertaking—an attempt to collect evidence of and write intelligently about a style of art that is meant to fade away or be seen as vandalistic or even puerile. With very few exceptions, there are no photographs of the artists in this book. Instead, the art speaks for itself alongside modest short essays detailing some small details of the artist’s life and a quick explanation of their motivations and styles.

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