Puppen-Hand Colored Plates

Hand colored plates by Lotte Pritzel

Images taken from Puppen by Rainer Maria Rilke

Munich, 1921


Teaching Spotlight, April 2014: Mark Langeneckert

For the next installment in our Teaching Spotlight feature, we're featuring Mark Langeneckert.  Mark and his students visit our reading room each semester to work with our bookplate collection.  His use of the collections in teaching is a model for those looking to historical collections for creative inspiration.

PhotoI’m an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Art Department. Drawing is my passion and the focus of my teaching. I’m responsible for coordinating the drawing area and leading the study abroad in art to the Netherlands (on even years) and Italy (on odd years).

One of the drawing courses I teach is Illustration. This course requires students to create an original work for a specific visual problem. One assignment is to create a bookplate design that incorporates the students name and the text, Ex Libris, into their work. The assignment is introduced by a visit to Special Collections to view their extensive assortment of historical bookplates. In many cases, this is their first visit to Special Collections.

The impact of this first-hand experience for students has resulted in some of their best work.

In the fall of 2014, I will be teaching a Drawing III course with an emphasis on the Graphic Novel. I look forward to accessing Special Collections resources in developing this new course.

The staff at Special Collections are extremely helpful with gathering materials, offering support and promoting their collection. I would encourage all faculty to consider using this resource in their classroom.

Monday manuscript: Weird and wonderful images from artist J.J. Grandville

This Monday's manuscript offering is a scrapbook of original sketches and notes by French artist J. J. Grandville (1803-1847), a caricaturist and proto-Surrealist.  Grandville was the pseudonym of Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard. Along with cartoonists such as Honoré Daumier, Grandville lampooned the political and aristocratic rulers of France in the pages of Le Caricature and Le Charivari and became well known as a caricaturist.  Unlike Daumier, Grandville abandoned political caricature for book illustration after censorship laws were reinstated in 1835. His first book-length work was a satirical study of the class system called Les Metamorphoses du Jour.   Grandville’s book illustrations feature elements of the symbolic, dreamlike and incongruous, and they retain a sense of social commentary.   His art often blends human features with the characteristics of animals or inanimate objects in order to make a satirical point.  

The scrapbook in Special Collections was assembled from clippings and fragments of original notes and sketches; some appear to have been taken from a day planner.  A study of the sketchbook was recently published by Clive Getty: The diary of J.J. Grandville and the Missouri album : the life of an opposition caricaturist and romantic book illustrator in Paris under the July monarchy (2010). Special Collections also has several published titles by Grandville, including French and English editions of Les fleurs animéesUn autre monde, and Les métamorphoses du jour.













God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson

This month's final post in our series celebrating African-American artists and writers brings together two greats of the Harlem Renaissance: James Weldon Johnson and Aaron Douglas.  Johnson was multi-talented: an educator, writer, attorney and musician, he was the author of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a leader of the NAACP, and the first African-American professor at New York University.  God's Trombones is considered one of his most important works.  Douglas was one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance.  He developed a distinctive style that blended modernism with African influences and was highly influential in the development of later African-American artists.













The Black Christ by Countee Cullen with illustrations by Charles Cullen

This post is the third in our series highlighting the work of African-American artists and authors in Special Collections.  Countee Cullen was one of the leading poets and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance.  This book of poetry, published at the height of his career, examines the relationships between faith and injustice.  Cullen draws parallels between the suffering of the crucified Christ and the suffering of African Americans in the climate of racial violence that characterized the 1920s. The copy in Special Collections is inscribed by Cullen to Frank Luther Mott, who was Dean of the School of Journalism from 1942 to 1951.












King’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail with Prints by Faith Ringgold

This week we're highlighting Faith Ringgold's illustrations for Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.  Produced in 2007 for the Limited Editions Club, the book contains eight original serigraphs by Ringgold alongside a beautifully printed text by King. Special Collections has copies 119 and 132 from an edition of 400.

Title page and frontispiece

Faith Ringgold illustration from Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King

Faith Ringgold illustration from Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King

Faith Ringgold illustration from Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King

The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Bearden

In honor of Black History Month, we're highlighting the work of African-American artists and authors in Special Collections.  Artist Romare Bearden and poet Derek Walcott participated in this beautiful collaboration for the Limited Editions Club in 1983.  We've selected a few of our favorite images to share here, including the gorgeous decorated cloth binding, which is the first image below.


Title page

Romare Bearden illustration

Derek Walcott poem

Romare Bearden illustration

Romare Bearden illustration

Romare Bearden illustration

Romare Bearden illustration

Colphon.  We have #257, signed by the author and illustrator.

Find it in the MERLIN catalog

Ten Etchings on the Theme of Mothers

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re highlighting a portfolio of prints and poetry by artist Michel Fingesten.  This collection, 10 Radierungen über das Thema Mütter (10 Etchings on the Theme of Mothers) was released in 1920 in an edition of 100 copies.  The Libraries’ copy is one of ten that also included an original pen and ink drawing by Fingesten, and each page is signed by the artist.  The etchings depict the tenderness and sweetness of motherhood, but at the same time, Fingesten’s figures tend to be solid, monumental and immovable. 

 fingesten0002  fingesten0005 fingesten0003 fingesten0004_lg

Although he is virtually unknown today, Fingesten was a prominent graphic artist and bookplate designer in Germany during the interwar period.  He studied art briefly in Vienna and Munich, but was largely self-taught.  Known for the Cubist and surrealist currents in his work, he was a member of the Berlin Secession, produced several well-received portfolios of prints, contributed to numerous art publications, and was himself the subject of a scholarly monograph.

During World War I, Fingesten explored the nature of violence and peace through his work, themes that would stay with him for the rest of his life.  He was persecuted by the Nazis in the early 1930s, both for his Jewish ancestry and for practicing “degenerate” modern art.  He died in an internment camp in Italy in 1943.