Wednesday, April 4, 2018

349. Fifty-Eight Years Ago: Art Nouveau

Fifty-eight years ago, one of the first exhibitions on Art Nouveau was on view at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The catalogue Art Nouveau. Art and Design at the Turn of the Century, edited by Peter Selz and Mildred Constantine, duly mentioned that this show had been preceded by a small exhibition on Art Nouveau in the same museum as early as 1933. By 1960 scholars and collectors had accumulated enough material for a large exhibition. 

Art Nouveau at the MOMA, 1960
A photograph from 1960 shows a wall with books and prints, and one can easily recognize some Aubrey Beardsley illustrations, but also, to the left, on the second row from the bottom, two books designed by Charles Ricketts. Both books were closed, and only the front cover of these could be admired.

To the left is a copy of Hero and Leander (1894) from the collection of Mr and Mrs Leonard Baskin (Northampton, Massachusetts). To the right is Wilde's The Sphinx (1894), the Morgan Library copy.

Nice to know that illustrator, sculptor and book artist Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) and his wife nature writer Esther Tane Baskin (1925-1973) had a copy of Hero and Leander.