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Treasures of the Rare Books Room: The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design

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The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design is a large box of 500 cards, or unbound pages, that the user can organize and reorganize according to their needs. Light green dividers with subject headings are included if need be. The pages include designs from the 1400s through 2012 and from all around the world. Each of the cards, front and back, are in full color and contain as much authoritative information as is available.


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Everyone will find something of interest in this nontraditional book as it covers everything from newspapers, books, symbols, advertisements, record and CD covers, magazines, posters and more. As time passes Phaidon plans to distribute more cards to add to this amazing collection.

This item is not available to check out. To view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.


Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: To Be Between by Jody Williams

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Great artists books melt the boundary between books and works of art. They explore the identity of books, how and what we read and the interaction between the reader and what is read.

To Be Between by Jody Williams uses brass, color etched text, and images on handmade and Japanese paper to create a physical sense of what it's like not to fit anywhere. The simplicity and composition of each page really displays the struggle of trying to find a place to be, but never quite getting there. To Be Between is an accordion book that measures 19 inches long and only 2 inches tall. It is number 11 from a limited edition of 75 made in 2002. This book was donated to the Milwaukee Public Library from the George Des Forges Fund.

To view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Hundertwasser

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Friedrich Stowasser, later to be known as Hundertwasser, was born in Vienna in 1928 and began drawing at the age of 6. He travelled extensively and exhibited his art - drawings, paintings and prints - worldwide. Hundertwasser was a true Renaissance man. He wrote, lectured, taught, invented, fought for the environment, climbed mountains, sailed, flew hot air balloons and the list goes on. His curiosity and daring almost had no end.

Hundertwasser used bright and rich colors, squares and circles, swirls and unusual perspectives to create a sense of constant movement in his art, much like his overflowing exciting life. Influenced by Paul Klee's childlike figures, Egon Schiele's loose brush strokes and Gustav Klimt's squares and use of gold, Hundertwasser painted a wide range of subjects - people, architecture, boats, cars, nature and landscapes as well as many abstract pieces which portray motion, emotion and place. The Milwaukee Public Library is proud to own copy 141 from a limited edition of 550 printed in 1974; the item was donated by the George Des Forges Fund.

To view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 and arrange a visit.

Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: The Book of Kells in Three Volumes

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Named after one of its early homes, Kells, Ireland, the Book of Kells is undoubtedly one of the most famous and recognizable illuminated manuscripts in the world. Around the year 800 CE monks who worked in a scriptorium, a room in a monastery for storing, copying, illustrating, or reading manuscripts, wrote and decorated each page by hand on vellum (calfskin). The elaborate swirls, knots, figures and beasts in this book brilliantly exemplify the medieval Celtic art style.

Today the Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland, houses the original Book of Kells in the Old Library. A complete digitized version of the original manuscript can be viewed on their website.

The Milwaukee Public Library holds copy number 237 from a limited edition of 500 printed in Switzerland in 1950. It is in three volumes: volume I Reproduction of Folios 1 - 182, volume II Reproduction of Folios 183 - 339, and volume III Introductory. Here is the complete title as it appears in CountyCat: Evangeliorum quattuor Codex Cenannensis. Auctoritate Collegii Sacrosanctae et Individuae Trinitatas juxta Dublin auxilioque Bibliothecae Confederationis Helveticae totius codicis similitudinem accuratissime depicti exprimendam curavit typographeum Urs Graf. Prolegomensis auxerunt viri doctissimi Ernestus Henricus Alton [et] Petrus Meyer.

To arrange a visit to view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071.

Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Magic, 1400s - 1950s

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Magic experts Mike Caveney and Jim Steinmeyer write about the history of all types of magic and conjuring in this gigantic book, Magic, 1400s - 1950s, donated to the Milwaukee Public Library by the Schlitz Audubon Center. Each chapter has a complete English, German and French translation, with gorgeous engravings, lithographs and photographs throughout.

The book explains that magicians' illusions started with card tricks, disappearing and reappearing objects, and seemingly endless scarfs. Later magicians' baffling skills excelled to sawing women in half, speaking with spirits, manipulating fire, and transforming people into animals. One of the greatest achievements, making people levitate, was accomplished by only the best magicians. And, of course, the book would not be complete if it didn't cover Houdini's career and popular grand escapes.

To view this item, please call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

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The Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini has been called the world's weirdest book. This encyclopedia of sorts, thoroughly describes an unknown world and its inhabitants. Though written in an imaginary language, it has a recognizable format - table of contents, chapters, diagrams, drawings and even an index. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the world Serafini has created. Topics covered, include insects, fish, birds, mammals, plant life, people, machinery and clothing. Some illustrations show the seasonal changes of a tree, how a school of fish swims, how machines work, and how to eat certain kinds of foods. When "reading" through this book it's difficult not to wonder how to decipher the mysteries displayed. Many scholars and fans have attempted just that but failed with each try.

The Milwaukee Public Library holds one copy from a limited edition of 4000 printed in the United States in 1983. A complete digitized version of this 1983 edition can also be found online.

To view this item, please call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Valerie @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Arkham House

Arkham House Bk 1.jpgThe Milwaukee Public Library has extensive holdings from Wisconsin's own Arkham House publishing in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room. August Derleth, a highly prolific Wisconsin author of mystery, science fiction, literary fiction and poetry, founded Arkham House in 1939 with fellow author Donald Wandrei. Arkham House was created in Sauk City shortly after H.P. Lovecraft's death in 1937, in the hopes that it could preserve the many unpublished works of Lovecraft through publication. The press became known for its mixture of weird fiction, horror, and fantasy by various authors as well as the high quality of printing and binding. Some authors with titles published in Arkham House are August Derleth himself, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury. Though not a financial success during Derleth's lifetime, the numerous volumes from Arkham House are now highly sought after by bibliophiles, and science fiction and horror enthusiasts alike. Most print runs were limited to just a few thousand copies which made for a scarcity that heightens the value and collectability of these titles. The library owns a wide selection of Arkham House titles with publication dates spanning from 1939 to 2006. You can request a viewing of one of these 170 items from Arkham House in MPL's Rarities collection by speaking with a librarian at the Art, Music, and Recreation reference desk. To speak with an Art librarian, call (414) 286-3071.

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