Category Archives: Art & Design

New Book: The Chinese Photobook

chinese photobookThe SVA library recently added The Chinese Photobook: From the 1900s to the Present to our collection. Edited by Martin Parr and WassinkLundgren, the book was published by Aperture and accompanied by an exhibition of the same name.

Accomplished photographer and avid photobook collector Martin Parr first encountered the vast terrain of Chinese photobooks while researching The Photobook: A History, a cornerstone survey of the medium. At a secondhand book market in Shanghai, he came across a number of impressive and unfamiliar photobooks that revealed the deficit of Western accessibility to this rich history of art and culture. Language barriers prevented Parr from deeper inquiry at the time.

Some years later he returned to that same market, only this time with Ruben Lundgren, one half of the Beijing- and London-based Dutch photographer team WassinkLundgren. Lundgren was studying photography at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and shared Parr’s interest in Chinese photobooks. Equipped with Lundgren’s increasing knowledge of Mandarin, the two began amassing the collection of books that served as the foundation of this new publication. From the publisher’s description,

“In the last decade there has been a major reappraisal of the role and status of the photobook within the history of photography. Revisionist histories have added enormously to our understanding of the medium’s culture, particularly in places that are often marginalized, such as Latin America and Africa. However, until now, only three Chinese photobooks have made it onto historians’ short lists…[this] selection of books includes key volumes published as early as 1900, as well as contemporary volumes by emerging Chinese photographers. Each featured photobook offers a new perspective on the complicated history of China from the twentieth century onward.”

The Chinese Photobook features over 1,000 color images and includes accompanying texts and individual title descriptions by Gu Zheng, Raymond Lum, Ruben Lundgren, Stephanie H. Tung and Gerry Badger.

latin american photobooksMentioned earlier in this post, the SVA library also has the first volume of The Photobook: A History, as well as another Aperture photobook survey The Latin American Photobook, edited by Horacio Fernandez. The Latin American Photobook features 150 books from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela.

Aside from being a photobook collector and advocate, Martin Parr has published over thirty books of his own photography. We have quite a few at the library, including a reproduction of his first book Bad Weather, as well as the frequently referenced Common Sense and The Non-Conformists.

martin parr bad weather 1

New Books: Agnes Martin

The SVA library recently added two new books on the American abstract painter Agnes Martin (1912-2004). Written by Nancy Princenthal, Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art, is the first full-length biography devoted to exploring Martin’s extraordinary life of creative determination, psychological perseverance, and elected solitude. Known primarily for her paintings, Martin was also a writer, poet, and one-time filmmaker. (Her only film, Gabriel, explores the natural landscape by following a young boy going for a walk.) The biography contains 38 illustrations, including film stills, portraits, and a selection of paintings that span her entire career. From the publisher’s description,

agnes martinOver the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin’s austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism, even as she battled psychological crises and carved out a solitary existence in the American Southwest. Martin identified with the Abstract Expressionists but her commitment to linear geometry caused her to be associated in turn with Minimalist, feminist, and even outsider artists. She moved through some of the liveliest art communities of her time while maintaining a legendary reserve. “I paint with my back to the world,” she says both at the beginning and at the conclusion of a documentary filmed when she was in her late eighties. When she died at ninety-two, in Taos, New Mexico, it is said she had not read a newspaper in half a century.

The SVA library also has the aforementioned documentary, Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World, made in 2002 by Mary Lance.

The second of the two new books, Agnes Martin, was recently published by D.A.P./Tate and touted as the first comprehensive monograph on the artist’s career. Created as an accompaniment to the critically-acclaimed touring retrospective, the New York Times Book Review called the new release, “indispensable.” From the publisher’s description,

agnes-martin-2This groundbreaking survey provides an overview of Martin’s career, from lesser-known early experimental works through her striped and gridded grey paintings and use of color in various formats, to a group of her final pieces that reintroduce bold forms. A selection of drawings and watercolors is also included. With essays by leading scholars that give a context for Martin’s work—her life, relationship with other artists, the influence of South-Asian philosophy—alongside focused shorter pieces on particular paintings, this beautifully designed volume is the definitive publication on her oeuvre.

The library has many other books on Agnes Martin in the collection, including Agnes Martin: The Nineties and Beyond and Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances to name just a few. And if reading about her work isn’t enough, you can make a pilgrimage upstate to Dia:Beacon and visit the significant collection of Martin’s paintings that are on display there.

Cabinet of Curiosities: Genre Benders

The Cabinet of Curiosities presents a quartet of curious, genre-bending artist/writers and writer/artists.  It’s located in the nook next to the Reinhold Brown collection – right before the handicap bathrooms and picture collection area.

This space has been curated with works by four interdisciplinary artists: W.G. Sebald, Anders Nilsen, Ray DiPalma, and Joseph Cornell.

Students and patrons are welcome to explore the cabinet and are encouraged to borrow any books they discover while peeking inside, but please handle with care!

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New Books: Around the World

From textile arts and interior design to pop art, this selection of new books features art from continents and countries around the world. All books are available for checkout from our New Books shelf.

red and white quiltsRed & White Quilts: Infinite Variety, presented by the American Folk Art Museum; by Elizabeth Warren with Maggi Gordon / NK9112 .W372 2015

This significant catalog is a highly detailed look at 653 red and white quilts from American history. Like the Log Cabin or Baltimore-style, the red and white quilt is a hugely popular genre of quilting. Colorfast Turkey red dye became readily available in the mid-nineteenth century, so red and white quilts became extremely popular, due not only to the newness of the color but also because of the extremely vibrant and punchy contrasting color scheme. Featuring over 650 quilts from the past three centuries, this book is filled with the gorgeous and imaginative designs of feathered stars, diamonds, animals, oak leaves, baskets, lettering, and snowflakes, as well as fascinating examples of careful embroidery and appliqué.

world popThe World Goes Pop, edited by Jessica Morgan and Flavia Frigeri / N6494.P6 W67x 2015

This groundbreaking book surveys the concurrent engagements with the spirit of Pop throughout the world, from the frequently studied activity in the United States, England, and France to less well-known developments in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. One of the first publications to examine Pop art with this global scope, The World Goes Pop explores the wide-ranging movements that developed on different continents, such as Nouveau Réalisme, Neo Dada, New Figuration, and Spiritual Pop. This unique presentation offers the opportunity to compare how Pop art around the world differed due to geography, local traditions, and different cultures’ social and political underpinnings.

contemporary africaContemporary Design Africa, by Tapiwa Matsinde / NK1487 .M38 2015

This book offers a refreshing challenge to rigid perceptions of what African design looks like. Focusing primarily on interior decoration, the book presents fifty designers, artisans, and cooperatives based on the continent or part of the diaspora who are creating sophisticated and innovative products and interiors. An introductory section surveys the history, vitality, and diversity in African design, followed by profiles of contemporary designers grouped by craft, from textiles, ceramics, and basketry to furniture, lighting, and beyond.

fabric indiaThe Fabric of India, edited by Rosemary Crill / NK8876.A1 F33 2015

Lavishly illustrated, this book begins with an in-depth exploration of the different materials, techniques, and dyeing processes used in the creation of these fabrics before exploring the central importance of cloth to Indian life and culture from ancient times to the present day. Special features focus on objects of historical importance, including a Kashmir map shawl, Tipu Sultan’s tent, and a remarkable 18th-century temple hanging from South India.

Along with presenting great historical masterpieces, the importance and variety of the basic fibers—silk, cotton, wool—from which Indian textiles are traditionally made is emphasized, and the remarkable techniques of weaving, printing, dyeing, and embroidery that have made them prized across the world are illustrated in specially taken photographs.

Winter Break Hours 2015-2016

Main Library

The main SVA Library on 2nd Ave. will  be closing early on Wednesday, December 23rd at 6pm, and will be closed during Winter Break from Thursday, December 24th, 2015 through Sunday, January 3rd, 2016.

The main library will reopen on Monday, January 4th, 2016 at 9am. Our hours that week are Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm. The library will be closed Saturday and Sunday, January 9th and 10th.

The library resumes normal hours on Monday, January 11th, 2016:
Mon-Thurs: 8:30am – 10pm
Fri: 8:30am – 7:30pm
Saturday: 12pm – 5:30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm



Library West

Library West will be closed for Winter Break from Wednesday, December 23rd through Sunday, January 10th. Normal hours at Library West resume on Monday, January 11th: Mon – Fri, 12-8pm.

Library West Winter Break 2015

Trial Database: Harper’s Bazaar Archive

The SVA Library has just begun trial access to the Harper’s Bazaar Archive from Proquest’s Fashion Studies package. The library is also currently trialing the Women’s Wear Daily Archive and the Women’s Magazine Archive from Proquest. These trials will be active through the end of the year, and can be accessed from our A-Z Databases page.


The Harper’s Bazaar Archive is a comprehensive, searchable archive of every page, advertisement, and cover of every issue of Harper’s Bazaar from its first appearance in 1867 to the current month. Reproduced in high-resolution color page images and supported by fully searchable text and indexing, this resource provides access to a chronicle of 20th century American and international fashion, culture, and society, supporting researchers by offering a cultural lens into the modern era.

*Please note in the initial release of this database, coverage extends from 2015 back to 1969, and partial coverage from 1962. The full run of the magazine back to 1867 will be digitized sometime in 2016.

You’re Invited: “I Mustache You to Read this Book”

In celebration of No Shave November, join VASA this Wednesday, November 18th at 12pm in the SVA Library to enjoy tea and coffee, while having your picture taken with beards and mustaches!

Post your photos to Instagram, and use the hashtag #VASAstache to publish your photos to the Library website – the top 3 most liked photos will win gift cards to the Strand:

1st prize: $25
2nd prize: $20
3rd prize: $15