Category: art

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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.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection

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.

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Posted in Artist's Books, Rare Book Collection

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.

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Posted in Artist's Books, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections
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