Science and the Artist's Book
An exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and
the Washington Project for the Arts
Herald of Science
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De la pirotechnia [On working with fire]
Intended as a practical guide to the "pyrotechnical arts" for
those who work with fire, heat, minerals, and volatile
substances, Biringuccio's book explains the different processes
employed in refining metals, distilling liquids, creating glass,
and mixing gunpowder. The pages on display here illustrate how
furnaces are used to refine metals for the making of coins.
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Daniel E. Kelm
Templum Elementorum [Sanctuary of the elements]
Easthampton, Massachusetts: The Wide Awake Garage, 1995
[etched glass, patinated metal, paper, laser printing]
Glass cylinders in Daniel E. Kelm's book sculpture represent
Biringuccio's furnaces, one for each of the "elements" known to
ancient science--fire, air, water, and earth. Linking art and
science is a favorite theme for Kelm, who spent five years
teaching chemistry at the University of Minnesota before leaving
to follow an artistic career.
Herald of Science
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Marie Sklodowska Curie
"Recherches sur les substances radioactives" [Investigations into
radioactive substances] in Annales de chimie et de
Marie Curie's early research on radium led her to develop
applications for radioactivity in medical therapy. Her
dissertation on radioactive substances--based on research she did
with her husband, Pierre Curie, and her mentor, Henri Becquerel--was published as this
1903 article in a French scientific journal. The first scientist to win the Nobel Prize twice (1903
and 1911), Madame Curie attained honors beyond the dreams of most
women of her time. She inscribed this copy of her article
"hommage de l'auteur" [gift of the author], in the top right-hand
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Susan kae Grant
Dallas, Texas, 1995
[lead, solvent transfers]
For Susan kae Grant, the work of Marie Curie, the only woman
scientist included in this selection, represents several
important issues. Through details of Curie's life and research,
Grant addresses topics such as women's changing roles in science
and the physical and environmental dangers of dealing with
certain natural substances. Curie's exposure to radium
contributed eventually to her death.