Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: art

707: A World Art History and Its Objects by David Carrier


707.22: Carrier, David. A World Art History and Its Objects. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2008. 154 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Art and Recreation
  • 707: Education, research, and related topics of fine and decorative arts
  • 707.22: Collected treatment

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739: Faberge’s Eggs by Tony Faber


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.

708: Art and Its Publics, edited by Andrew McClellan


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


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


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


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


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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