Winnie-the-Pooh Wanders into the MFA Boston

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A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh has never suffered for lack of exposure–far from it. Since the publication of Milne’s first children’s book starring a loveable, honey-hungry bear in 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh has been translated into fifty languages and been the subject of numerous films and exhibitions. Here’s one more to add to the list: on September 22nd, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will present nearly 200 drawings, letters, photographs, and ephemera in a show entitled, “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic.”
The exhibition originated in 2017 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London where most of the items on display are part of that institution’s permanent collections. The show then made its way to the High Museum in Atlanta before setting up in Boston.

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The goal of the show is to explore various relationships between a bear and a boy, the interplay between Milne’s text and the art of E.H. Shepard, and how classic children’s literature remains relevant in the 21st century.
Highlights include Shephard’s first character portraits of Winnie, Eeyore, Kanga, and other creatures of the Hundred Acre Wood, a 1926 handwritten letter from Milne to Shephard, and photos of Milne’s family.
The show is definitely geared towards children, and the MFA curators have installed various interactive elements, such as recreations of Pooh’s home and the childhood bedroom of Christopher Milne, the inspiration for Christopher Robin. Cuddle-worthy corners throughout the gallery invite children to read, draw, and even listen to a 1929 recording of Milne reading Winnie-the-Pooh aloud. Co-sponsored by Hood Milk, visitors who attend on opening day can enjoy games like a round of ring toss on the MFA’s Huntington Avenue lawn along with generous servings of cookies, milk, and Hoodsie  cups.
To paraphrase Pooh himself, you can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for this show. Check it out before it heads back to London.

“Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic,” runs from September 22nd through January 6th, 2019 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. More information at www.mfa.org.

Images, from top: Winnie-the-Pooh first edition, 1924, published in London by Methuen & Co. Ltd; printed by Jarrold & Sons Ltd.

“Pooh sitting on his branch … beside him, ten pots of honey,” 1970, Ernest Howard Shepard.

Beautiful Birds at Bonhams this Spring

Spring announces itself in many ways. In the book world, vernal book fairs and auctions tempts the frozen bibliophile our from hibernation with new treasures waiting to be explored. Bonhams welcomes the new season with a May 30 auction entitled, Wassenaar Zoo: a Dutch Private Library.
Comprised of 2,400 mostly ornithological volumes, the collection was assembled in the 1950s to accompany exhibitions at Holland’s now-defunct Wassenaar Zoo. The auction will include a near-complete run of folios by naturalist John Gould, works by French ornithologist François Levaillant and by Daniel Elliot, co-founder of the American Museum of Natural History. Their beautiful illustrations of pheasants, finches, and falcons fuse a delicate balance between art and scientific inquiry and remain highly coveted by collectors.

Representing the biggest names in 19th century natural history documentation, highlights from this collection went on display in New York earlier this month and are currently on view in Hong Kong. Another viewing will be held in London from May 23 through the 29th.
Interested parties may flock to the Bonhams book department at books@bonhams.com.

Image: Superb Fairywren The Birds of Australia. London, Printed by R. and J. E. Taylor; pub. by the author,[1840]-48. Plate 18 by John Gould. Courtesy of Biodiversity Library and Smithsonian.

Exiled Artists Find Footing in France

Europe is in the throes of a massive refugee crisis with millions of asylum-seekers fleeing war-torn lands like Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Among those forced from their homeland include writers, artists, singers, and other creatives who now can find refuge and a place to practice their craft in Paris.

Since November 2017, the Atelier des Artistes en Exil (AA-E), or atelier for exiled artists, has welcomed painters, poets, writers, and musicians to its 10,000 square foot space on rue des Poissonniers in the densely populated 18th arrondissement, where immigrants, blue-collar workers and artists live and work side-by-side. The organization is the brainchild of Judith Depaule and Ariel Cypel, a pair known for piloting engaged communal artistic spaces throughout Paris.

The AA-E provides WiFi-enabled workspace and fully-equipped workshops and sound studios where displaced artists have the opportunity to return to their professions and to also regain a sense of stability during a most difficult and stressful time in their lives.

Additionally, the AA-E organizes French language courses, meetings with other artists, assists with resumé writing, facilitates contacts with fellow professionals in France and throughout Europe, and guides asylum seekers through lengthy and confusing French bureaucracy processes.

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An artist in their AA-E studio

 

As a nonprofit, the AA-E is constantly looking for assistance from educators, artists, curators, teachers, psychiatrists, and librarians, as well as financial support and donations. The AA-E’s current wish list includes tables, chairs, notebooks, drawing supplies, and even food and temporary housing for its displaced patrons. To raise funds, the organization will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in January.

The AA-E lists over two hundred current members. Some work or practice in the studios every day, while others visit when they’re completing projects. Others stop by for meetings, workshops, or to receive legal advice. New visitors are always welcome. Learn more at http://aa-e.org/fr/category/atelier/  and check out some of the artists’ work on the AA-E instagram at https://www.instagram.com/atelierartistesexil/ .

This story appeared on January 20th at Art & Object.

Outsider Art Fair Returns to NYC

It’s always hip to be an outsider, especially when we’re talking about art. So, mark your calendars for the Outsider Art Fair (OAF) which returns to New York City for the 26th year in a row from January 19th through the 21st. This year the OAF welcomes artists from all walks of life to submit a piece or two to the Fair.

Never heard of the OAF ? Learn everything you need to know in my story over at Art&Object. 

 

Get into the Giving Mood by Donating to Booklyn’s Kickstarter

The year-end fundraiser to keep Booklyn in Brooklyn is nearing its final days. Founded in 1999, the non-profit artists and bookmakers association has promoted, documented, and distributed artists’ books to the general public and educational institutions, dedicated to education through the exhibition and distribution of art books and prints. (For a thorough examination, read A.N. Devers’ piece about the nonprofit here, from the Fine Books & Collections Spring 2015 issue.)
Having long ago grown out of its 600-square-foot studio in Greenpoint, the organization has been on the hunt for a new home, and was recently invited to take up residence at ArtBuilt Brooklyn, a 50,000-square-foot art community at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. There, Booklyn will have a production studio, art gallery, event space, and an office to continue producing artists’ books.

To fund the move, Booklyn went to Kickstarter. Read the rest of the story on the Fine Books Blog. Then see all the goodies available to donors here.

 

images courtesy of Booklyn

A New Light: Louvre Abu Dhabi Ushers a Global Focus on Shared Stories of Humanity

On November 11th, a museum opened in Abu Dhabi. And as is fitting for a city known for its glittering skyscrapers and  luxury accommodations, it wasn’t just any museum. A collaboration with the Louvre in Paris, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is being billed as a new culture hub for the Middle East.

Read all about this new desert art palace over at the Art & Object website.

 

image: © Louvre Abu Dhabi – Photography Roland Halbe

Limited Edition MetroCards designed by Barbara Kruger Hit NYC Turnstiles

The New York Metro Transit Authority (MTA) is upping the MetroCard’s style cachet in 2017, even in the wake of the recent announcement that the transit authority will be phasing out the physical payment system in near future. For now, some MetroCards will be turned into modern art. Read more at Art&Object.

Curatorial Quest Yields Rare Book Discovery in Honolulu

A few months ago, a curator at the Honolulu Museum of Art stumbled upon a rare 19th century manual on Japanese art that he didn’t even know existed in the museum archives. Stephen Salel had been searching for materials for an exhibition devoted to  female Japanese manga artists. Recognized today as a sub genre of graphic novels, manga as an art form dates to the nineteenth century, and Salel was looking specifically for work created by Katsushika Oi (1800-1866), considered by many experts to be the first female manga artist. If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because she was the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose 1823 woodblock print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa has been reproduced countless times around the world. More at the Fine Books Blog. 

Welcome Art & Object!

I am now writing regular features for the recently launched Art & Object, a website dedicated to covering the art world and the secondary art market. Current stories include a look at the Houston arts scene post-Harvey, a preview of the forthcoming Salon Art + Design Show in Manhattan, and a lot more.  Please check it out, and check back often!

October Quick Picks

Put down the Halloween candy and grab one of these literary treats instead:

See What I have Done, by Sarah Schmidt, Grove Atlantic; $26.00, 324 pages.

Australian library coordinator-turned-novelist makes her chilling debut with a reinterpretation of the infamous story of Lizzie Borden, the Fall River, Massachusetts, native who bludgeoned her father and stepmother to death with an axe 125 years ago this past August.  Borden was tried and acquitted of the crimes, and officially, the murders remain unsolved, but Schmidt’s reexamination of the events through multiple narrators offers gruesome, cruel new perspectives on hidden family secrets.

A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, her Two Sons, and their Fight against Fascism, by Caroline Moorehead, Harper; $27.99, 488 pages. 

National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction finalist Caroline Moorehead (Human Cargo) takes on another topic examining courage under oppression. Here, we meet the Rossellis, an aristocratic family opposed to fascism and Benito Mussolini’s rise to power before World War II.  Using family letters and secret police files, Moorehead recounts how the Rosselli’s dedicated their lives and resources to rebelling against Mussolini’s reign of terror, and how their courage continued to inspire opposition during the dark days of war. A vivid portrait of a country’s decent into darkness and of those who defied it.

In the Darkness of the Night, by Bruno Munari, Princeton Architectural Press; $35.00, 60 pages.

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Originally published in Italy in 1956 under the title Nella notte buia, this little masterpiece uses a full arsenal of book arts techniques to convey space and time. Rather than relying exclusively on text, author Bruno Munari (1907-1998) relies instead on symphony of words and images to convey the story. Thick paper cutouts give way to fragile transparent sheets, making for a wholly unexpected and holistic reading experience. Perfect for collectors and paper engineers alike.