It Works on Paper: 520 Years of Prints, Drawings, Watercolors

The digital imaging portion of the Carter's $50,000 NEA grant awarded last year is complete! That means we have thousands of new images of our prints, drawings, and watercolors to share with you on the museum's website - which is a wonderful thing because these works are rarely exhibited in order to preserve them as long as possible.

Speaking of prints that have been around a long time, here is the oldest work of art in the Carter's collection, a 15th century German woodcut of a beaver.

Helmut Conran, Bibergailn, woodcut with applied color, ca. 1487
Helmut Conran, Bibergailn, woodcut with applied color, ca. 1487

And jumping ahead about 520 years, here is the 'youngest' print in the collection, a 1998 lithograph by American artist Will Barnet, whose Self Portrait is currently on view in the Carter's galleries. You can also watch an interview with Barnet on ArtBabble.

Will Barnet, The Doorway, lithograph, 1998
Will Barnet (b.1911), The Doorway, lithograph, 1998, gift of the artist, ©1998 Will Barnet

Vote for the Amon Carter Museum!

Modern Art Notes' Tyler Green is running a week-long tournament to determine America's favorite art museum (or, more accurately, his audience's favorite art museum in America)...and we made the list! Competition starts tomorrow so check back!

Diderot's Encyclopédie

Sam Duncan, the library director at the Carter, recently asked me to tackle cataloging one of the libraryʼs hidden gems: the thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, edited mostly by Denis Diderot. Cataloging a work of this magnitude requires some bibliographical research, and I would like to share with you the interesting knowledge I gained about this wonderful publication. The full title is Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres, mis en ordre par M. Diderot de l'Académie des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse, et quant à la partie mathématique, par M. d'Alembert de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Paris, de celle de Prusse et de la Société royale de Loners, but it is commonly referred to as the Encyclopédie. The Encyclopédie is truly a marvel to behold, for many reasons. Most impressive is the great condition of the Carterʼs example - all thirty-five volumes are in exceptional condition, as they were published between 1751 and 1772, making the most recent volume approximately 238 years old. The illustrations are absolutely stunning in both their quality, as well as their variety. Finally, the impact of the publication itself is fascinating. The Carter library's copy also includes a copy of the original bill of sale, a rarity itself.

Encyclopedie Spines

Bill of Sale

The Encyclopédie, as I mentioned above, is comprised of thirty-five volumes. These thirty-five volumes are broken down into seventeen textual volumes, eleven volumes of plates, four supplemental volumes, two index volumes, and a final supplemental volume of plates. These volumes, all told, hold seventy-five thousand entries, made up of twenty million words, the collaborative work of 150 authors. It is humbling to think of all the effort that went into the production of these large, leather-bound volumes. Many scholars believe the Encyclopédie to be significant because it was one of the best representations of the ideas and rhetoric of the enlightenment, as well as being the first general encyclopedia to pay special attention to the mechanical arts. The enlightenment ideas are well represented in the classification of human knowledge presented in the Encyclopédieʼs table: theology is placed under theology, and the knowledge of God is only a few points above black magic. As one can imagine, this caused a great deal of criticism in 18th century Catholic France, so much so that in 1759, the king suspended the publication rights for the work. However, work continued in secret - and the Carterʼs Encyclopédie represents this, as the later volumes state that they were published in Amsterdam. Scholars also highlight that the publication of the Encyclopédie was a catalyst for the French Revolution, and a prime example of the democratization and popularization of knowledge associated with the enlightenment. Indeed, M. Diderot himself acknowledged this in the entry for “Encyclopédie,” stating that the purpose of the publication was “to change the way people think.” This publication truly had a significant impact on the development of modern Western Civilization.

The classification scheme I mentioned above is of specific interest to me as a librarian. The table represents an earlier effort to classify knowledge - which is one of the specialties of our profession. The scheme of the Encyclopédie was inspired by Francis Baconʼs Advancement of Knowledge, and classified all knowledge into three major categories: memory, reason, and imagination. Of course, todayʼs schemes take the form of Library of Congress Classification Numbers, and Dewey Decimal Classification numbers, and have changed in size, but the purpose remains the same - to classify knowledge, or their containers - books, music, et cetera.

As a library dedicated to the study, scholarship, and preservation of art, the volumes of plates are of particular interest. They cover a wide variety of topics, but focus especially on the mechanical and manual arts--how to create and make “things.” It was these very illustrations that provided the impetus for the Carter to acquire this publication, as they were to support study for a series of planned exhibitions about the mechanical arts. The exhibitions never came to fruition. The engravings themselves are copper engravings, and seem nearly to be as crisp as the day they were printed, nearly three hundred years ago. As a matter of fact, Sam blogged about another publication with beautiful engravings in it, The Feel of Steel. (

Encyclopedie Open

For me, cataloging the Encyclopédie represents many of the reasons I chose librarianship as a career. The technical work and research that precedes the final catalog record is both challenging and fascinating. Having an opportunity to interact with, and deepen my appreciation for significant cultural artifacts is exhilarating. Finally, on behalf of the library staff, I would like to invite you to the library reading room to enjoy these wonderful volumes of the Encyclopédie for yourself, as it is truly a beautiful and awesome thing to behold.

Source for information: Wikipedia entries for the Encyclopédie, Francis Bacon, and Denis Diderot.

Guest blogger: Jason Dean, Library Volunteer

Wrapped Oranges on KERA

KERA's Art & Seek blog has a great post today about an 'overlooked masterpiece', Wrapped Oranges, on view now in the Carter's galleries.

William McCloskey, Wrapped Oranges, oil on canvas, 1889
William J. McCloskey (1859-1941), Wrapped Oranges, oil on canvas, 1889, Acquisition in memory of Katrine Deakins, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum, 1961-1985

Demystification Accomplished

Lots of great conversations about modern art took place at My Kid Could Do That: Demystifying Abstract Art, a public program held Saturday. Best of all, our talented participants created great abstract art of their own.

©2010 Amon Carter Museum

©2010 Amon Carter Museum

©2010 Amon Carter Museum

©2010 Amon Carter Museum

Be sure to check out our calendar for more public programs at the Carter!

Summer Showers

The forecast calls for showers this week, an unusual event for Texas in July.

Charles Dahlgreen, Approaching Storm, ca. 1913-1915, Monotype

Charles Dahlgreen, Approaching Storm, ca. 1913-1915, Monotype, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

Mabel Dwight, Rain, 1935, Lithograph

Mabel Dwight, Rain, 1935, Lithograph, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

Ruth Bernhard, Apple Tree, 1970. Gelatin silver print, © 1970 Ruth Bernhard

Ruth Bernhard, Apple Tree, 1970. Gelatin silver print, © 1970 Ruth Bernhard, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Paul Brauchle, Dallas, Texas

New Books!

Last month the library cataloged (as always) an interesting array of material. Note that there are several early imprints that have come to the collection that are early painting and watercolor technical manuals and other titles on color theory. As I scan the list, I want to draw attention to several titles that captured my attention:

  • Diffusion -- a new periodical in the collection that focuses on alternative photographic processes
  • Fort Worth's Fairmount District -- new book, with lots of photographs, on the Fort Worth neighborhood from library friend Mike McDermott (Mike did some of his research here in the library)
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: 75 Years of Looking Forward -- ravishing publication observing SFMOMA's 75th year (thanks to the SFMOMA library for sending us a copy)
  • For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights -- catalog of the exhibition currently at ICP New York
  • Planting the World's Garden -- CD-ROM publication providing a fascinating look at early farm implement advertising in the U.S.
  • Poplar Forest -- sensitive and beautiful limited edition photobook looking at Jefferson's country retreat

And so much more!

Full Report

The Impact of the Bill of Rights

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend, I was thinking about how the Bill of Rights impacts our lives each day and how artists in the Carter’s collection have visually represented the amendments' intersection with our lives.

The First Amendment grants the freedom of worship”¦

Georgia O'Keeffe's Ranchos Church, New Mexico

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887--1986), Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930–31, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1971.16

The freedom of speech”¦

Ben Shahn's Martin Luther King

Ben Shahn (1898--1969), Martin Luther King, 1965, ink and ink wash on paper, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1967.197

The freedom of the press”¦

Richard Caton Woodville's Mexican News

After Richard Caton Woodville (1825--1856), engraved by Alfred Jones (1819--1900), Mexican News, 1853, hand colored engraving and etching with stipple, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1972.3

And the freedom of assembly (among others).

Laura Gilpin's The Navaho Council Room Window Rock, [Arizona]

Laura Gilpin (1891--1979), The Navaho Council Room Window Rock, [Arizona], 1951, gelatin silver print, © 1979 Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, bequest of the artist, P1979.128.187

Can you think of additional works in the Carter’s collection that reflect our other rights? Share them with us by posting a comment below, and have a wonderful holiday!

Stroller Strollin'

New parents might want to consider coming to the museum this Friday morning for our monthly New Parent’s tour. Take the opportunity to meet fellow parents-with-babies and learn something about art while keeping cool.

New Parents Tour in the galleries at the Carter.

A Parliament of Owls

Our last session of Storytime led us on a search for night creatures in our galleries. Although this isn’t the owlery at Hogwarts, we did discover a clutch of young owls in our atrium. Who knows what we will discover at our next Storytime? Please join us and be a part of the fun!

20100616_Storytime-Night Creatures, Rynda Lemke, photographer

Storytime, Night Creatures, Rynda Lemke, photographer

Storytime-Night Creatures, Rynda Lemke, photographer

Storytime-Night Creatures, Rynda Lemke, photographer