Journeys of the Imagination: Book Arts
The book arts celebrate the physical presence of the book through creative use of structure, materials, typography, illustration, and binding.
|Mark Attwood (born 1966); Joachim Schönfeldt (born 1958),
and Robert Weinek (born 1964), editors |
Johannesburg: The Artists’ Press in collaboration with FIG Gallery, 1994.
GIF 2 comprises mounted prints, mixed media
works, photocopies, and a photograph, covered in brown paper and contained
in a wooden slip case by Michael Zeffertt, with bronze animal hooves by
Guy du Toit attached to front and back. This volume creatively gathers
original artworks, signed and numbered by 18 artists, into a book
representing modern African art. The National Museum of African Art
Library has one of the most comprehensive reference collections dealing
with contemporary African artists and serves Smithsonian and other
|Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918) |
The Book of the Fair
Chicago and San Francisco: 1893.
Gift of Larry Zim World’s Fair collection
standard history of the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition was presented
as a limited edition to fair officials and sponsors. Supplemented with 100
folio prints, among them signed etchings and photogravures, it is both a
record of the fair and a fine example of chromolithography, or color
printing. Documenting technological advances, industrial achievements, and
popular entertainment, such publications record the world view of a
|Walter Crane (1845-1915) |
A Romance of the Three Rs
London: Marcus Ward, 1886.
Mary Stuart Book Fund
work of Walter Crane, a designer and illustrator of the British Arts and
Crafts movement, combines fine design with practical lessons for children
presented in an amusing way. Crane believed he could teach children about
good design by incorporating the latest styles in his imaginative books
for young people. He eagerly promoted the publication of inexpensive
softcover picture books that a growing literate middle class could afford.
In A Romance of the Three Rs, which Crane wrote for his young son
Lionel, a boy has many adventures as he journeys around the world in his
quest to learn how to read and write.
|William Mullingar Higgins (active 1830s) |
The house painter, or, Decorator’s companion : being a complete treatise on the origin of colour, the law of harmonious colouring, the manufacturer of pigments, oils, and varnishes : and the art of house painting, graining, and marbling
London: Thomas Kelly, 1841.
of many technical works on 19th-century craftsmanship in the Smithsonian
Libraries collections, this volume contains hand-painted illustrations of
various wood grains along with descriptions of how to achieve this effect
with paint. It was written for craftsmen, architects, and interior
designers, and the spattered and stained illustrations in this copy show
heavy use in the workshop. This book is from the collection of furniture
conservator Robert D. Mussey, Jr.
|Sjoerd Hofstra (born 1952) |
They Pair Off Hurriedly
Amsterdam and New York: ZET, 1992.
Friends of the Library Fund
remarkable book, Dutch-born artist Sjoerd Hofstra showed himself to be a
master of paper construction by creating highly dramatic pop-ups,
including a revolving door and a cascade of rooftops. The book is a
reinterpretation of Manhattan Transfer, John Dos Passos’s 1925
novel which captured the hustle and bustle of daily life in New York City.
Hofstra incorporated Dos Passos’s text within printed pages that resemble
architectural drawings, so that the viewer feels as if he or she is
reading a blueprint.
|Asamaro Inokuma (Unknown) |
Kyugi soshoku jurokushiki zufu (Sixteen pictorial charts of ancient ceremonial decoration)
[Kyoto]: Kyoto Bijutsu Kyokai, 1903.
Lillian Saxe Fund
Produced as a
commemorative for members of the Kyoto Art Society, this book presents 16
Japanese interiors that contain implements required for 16 traditional
activities, including a poetry contest, coming-of-age ritual, and
green-tea (sencha) gathering. Filled with distinctive Japanese patterns
and details, the hand-colored woodblock illustrations depict decorative
lacquered pieces, costumes, and furnishings. An extraordinarily beautiful
object in its own right, the book provides a fascinating look at Japanese
|Frances Theodora Parsons (1861-1952) |
According to Season: Talks about the Flowers in the order of Their Appearance in the Woods and Fields
New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1894.
Frances Theodora Parsons started taking walks in the countryside after the
death of her first husband. These strolls inspired her most popular book,
How to Know the Wildflowers (1893). According to Season is a
collection of the author’s articles for the New York Tribune. This special
copy of the first edition contains nine original watercolor sketches by an
|Coex'ae Qgam ; Quaqaua |
Qauqaua: a San folk story from Botswana told by Coex’a Qgam
Johannesburg: Artists' Press, .
S. Dillon Ripley Endowment Fund
Published in collaboration with the Kuru Art Project, Qauqaua is a
rendition of a Naro folk tale and the first book to be published in Naro
and English. Part of the folklore of Botswana, the story is mythically
connected to rock engravings that are said to be the footprints of
Qauqaua. It combines the quality of the artist’s object with a folk tale
similar to earlier exploration narratives. The book was hand-printed in a
limited edition of 100 plus 20 artists’ proofs; the Smithsonian Libraries
copy is numbered 52 of 100.
|Humphry Repton (1752-1818) |
Observations on the Theory and practice of Landscape Gardening
London: printed by T. Bensley for J. Taylor, 1803.
Essentially a device to show prospective clients how Repton could
transform their grounds, Observations embodies his theories about
creating formal landscapes for English country estates. Although Repton
often incorporated neoclassical structures into his designs, they still
retained a natural feel because of his strategic placement of loosely
gathered together trees and plants throughout. In this work, he supplied
"before" and "after" views; the viewer lifts a paper flap to see the
dramatically transformed garden.