What makes an interesting work of art?

brook harris stevensbrook harris stevens

Fiber artist and EMU art professor Brooks Harris Stevens will tell you what, in her estimation, constitutes an interesting work of art as she leads a guided tour of the Art of the 2010 Ann Arbor Women Artists' Exhibit on Monday, March 1, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room. Stevens, juror for the AAWA's 2010 exhibition (which will be on display at AADL from the time of this event through April 14), will also announce the winners of this year's show.

Celebrate Black History Month with a Museum Adventure Pass!

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Check out a Museum Adventure Pass at any AADL location and take a visit to one of the many museums celebrating Black History Month this month, like The Henry Ford. You can see the interactive musical, Minds on Freedom, participate in Hands-on Freedom, and visit the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit. Note that regular admission costs apply to these exhibits, as passes are for the Rouge Factory Tour, but all activities are free with Museum admission.

Vogel 50x50

Vogel 50x50Vogel 50x50

The exhibition An Economy of Means: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection opens at the University of Michigan Museum of Art on Saturday, January 30th.

In 2008 the University of Michigan Museum of Art was one of 50 museums selected to receive a gift of 50 works of art from Herb and Dorothy Vogel. A previous blog relates the extraordinary story of Herbert, a postal clerk, and Dorothy, a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means.

The couple began collecting in the early 1960s. Their collection, notable both for the character and breadth of the objects, was guided by two rules: the piece had to be affordable, and it had to be small enough to fit in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. They were among the first collectors to buy work by artists who were virtually unknown at the time but went on to achieve considerable acclaim such as Robert Barry and Richard Tuttle.

A gallery talk is scheduled for 2 p.m. on opening day. Watch the Museum's program guide for upcoming events and docent-guided tours of the exhibition.

Learn more about the Vogels' 50 gifts for 50 states.

Lynda Benglis
American, born 1941
Tacpere Maptom, 1985
glass
22 x 5 ½ (diam.) in. (Image shown)
© Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY *

Italian Holiday?

Ever dream of going to Italy? Can't afford it? Using the library is a great alternative!

First, you can experience the sights through art books in our collection. The works of greats such as Botticelli, Bernini, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio will transport you into the culture of Italy. However, if you wanted something a little closer to the real experience, you could try this book of paintings within the Uffizi. It's basically a tour in itself!

If you want to feel like you're actually walking the streets of Italy, try a book on the architecture of Brunelleschi, the famous creator of Florence's Il Duomo, or maybe something a little broader.

Perhaps you're anxious to taste some real Italian food? Unfortunately, you'll have to cook it yourself. But books on Italian Cooking will be able to make that a bit easier for you.

In order to hear Italy, you can try your hand at speaking it yourself. With our fantastic Italian language-learning collection, you'll be able to go from a beginner's lesson, to something more advanced. Although, if you tired yourself out with all that cooking, you might just like to listen to some opera.

If you're really into this whole plan, maybe you want to get some more background? There are tons of Italian history books. There are also biographies on key figures, such as Caesar, Lucrezia Borgia, Savonarola, Garibaldi, Mussolini, and the well-known Medici family.

Maybe all of these books are too much for you, and you really need a break? Well, luckily, AADL also carries movies. Something lighthearted, like Roman Holiday might help you through your journey. Or, if you'd like something a little more thrilling, perhaps The Talented Mr. Ripley? We even have films in Italian, like La Dolce Vita!

It may not be exactly the same as climbing the Spanish Steps, but it's as close as you can get without actually going! But, if you ever decide to go, don't forget your travel book.

The AADL Kid-i-cotts

Join us this Friday in the Downtown Multipurpose Room from 6-8:30 pm to celebrate the Caldecott medal winner. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938 to recognize excellence in illustration. This year the award has gone to Jerry Pinkney's excellent rendition of The Lion and the Mouse, which tells Aesop's classic fable entirely in pictures.

This Friday, after a brief presentation of the Caldecott winner and other historical Caldecotts, you will have the chance to tell stories in pictures yourself. Your imagination is the only limit, so bring all your creativity, enthusiasm and love of art!

By Jove! What a collection!

british museumbritish museum

On this day in 1759, the British Museum opened to the public in the Bloomsbury district of London. The original collection was donated by a doctor, Sir Hans Sloane who had amassed what he called "a cabinet of curiosities." The collection included thousands of books, manuscripts, items from the nature and art objects from around the world. The round, domed Reading Room was built over a hundred years later and could hold one million volumes. Until recently, only those who presented an almost exhaustive life history as well as references could use the collection. Some lucky users included Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Gandhi and George Orwell. Lenin was initially denied access because of difficulty locating a reference. The museum has created digital records of items in their collection which can be accessed on their website. The Library also owns many books that contain objects that belong to their collections.

The Rape of Europa

Amidst the destruction of World War II was the further devastating loss of much of Europe’s great art and architecture. The fascinating 2007 film, The Rape of Europa, tells this story based on the book of the same title by author Lynn Nicholas. Nicholas spent ten years in Belgium researching what would become a best-selling book in 1994, and the film examines the newest issues and later research since its publication.

The German Nazi party is now believed to have stolen one-fifth of Europe’s treasures during WWII. Although much was recovered by the Allies, a large amount remains missing, damaged beyond repair, or in need of restoration work that is still continuing today. Pillage and looting during war was certainly not something new before WWII, but it seems to be the systematic methods involved during WWII that made the crimes so horrific. It was a highly organized operation that not only allowed Hitler's Germany to amass a wealth of art by theft, but also involved the complete destruction of historic landmarks - such as the Royal Castle of Warsaw - to further dehumanize other cultures. The Rape of Europa is a worthwhile documentary about a subject I knew little of beforehand and was glad I took the time to watch. I highly recommend.

Secrets of the Library: Museum Adventure Pass

museummuseumExpecting out of town visitors for the holidays? Show them the rich cultural offerings of southeast Michigan (and get out of the cold) with a Museum Adventure Pass, which offers free admission for 2 or 4 people to participating museums. Walk off that extra helping of mashed potatoes in the grand halls of the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History, the Arab American National Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), and many more! Passes are available at all branches.

A visit to UMMA

One of the great things about library staff day was getting to visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art -- and being given a wonderful tour by Prue Rosenthal. There are many reasons to return, including that striking metal sculpture made from gun parts; the Tiffany glass piece; and in the gift shop, beautiful wood art reclaimed from trees felled to build the museum's new Frankel Wing. Similarly, AADL reclaimed wood from the site in building Traverwood.

Happy Anniversary, MOMA!

momamoma

On this day in 1929, nine days after the stock market crashed, the The Museum of Modern Art in New York City opened its doors. The Museum contains an extensive permanent collection, including French impressionist paintings, modern photography and sculpture. Current exhibits include "New Photography" and Monet's Water Lilies series. So if you're planning a trip to New York this coming holiday season, put MOMA on your list of hot spots.

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