Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections will launch the new Modern Graphic History Library with a pair of exhibitions Friday, Nov. 16.
Highlights from the Modern Graphic History Library will open with a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Olin Library’s Ginkgo Reading Room & Grand Staircase Lobby. A reception for Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Women’s Magazine, 1940-1960 will immediately follow, from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Both exhibitions are free and open to the public. Highlights from the Modern Graphic History Library will remain on view through Jan. 13; Ephemeral Beauty will remain on view through Jan. 28. Olin Library is located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus, just north of the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Tolman Way. The Kemper Art Museum is located a short walk east, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards.
The Modern Graphic History Library is dedicated to acquiring and preserving distinguished works of modern illustration and pictorial graphic culture while also promoting sustained academic consideration of those materials. The collection includes artists’ working materials, sketches and finished artworks — from book, magazine and advertising illustration to graphic novels, comics, poster design, pictorial information design and animation.
The catalyst for establishing the Modern Graphic History Library was a substantial commitment, in 1999, of artwork and studio materials from the family of Al Parker, a St. Louis native and Washington University alumnus who is best known for his groundbreaking post-war illustrations for women’s magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, McCall’s and Cosmopolitan. Yet the Modern Graphic History Library also draws on a wealth of existing holdings, including strong collections of children’s literature, comics and pulps, periodical illustration, 19th and 20th century political illustration and materials relating to graphic design and the history of printing.
Still, “Kit and Donna Parker were instrumental in developing the Modern Graphic History Library,” said Jeff Pike, the Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr., Dean and Professor of Art. “The Modern Graphic History Library is now poised to become an invaluable resource for scholars, students and practitioners — those who will find, within the beauty of this unique collection, thoughtful avenues of inquiry for scholarship and inspiration.”
Douglas Dowd, professor of visual communications in the Sam Fox School, drew extensively on university holdings for Ephemeral Beauty, which he organized with Stephanie Plunkett, curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, where the exhibition debuted last summer.
“Popular art delivers the ultra-now, the super-here,” Dowd notes in a brochure accompanying the Highlights exhibition. “Often, over-exposure or simple datedness follows, and such works are consigned to the garage, literally and figuratively. But later, reconnected with lost contexts and seen afresh, they provide the frisson of frozen history.”
Anne Posega, head of Special Collections, adds that, “We librarians and curators know that scholarship suffers when ephemeral pieces of visual culture are lost or discarded, as so often happens.
“The Modern Graphic History Library will preserve unique contributions to art and society by some of the most significant figures in graphic media, past and present,” Posega continues. “We believe this collection will engender opportunities for intellectual exchange, creative enterprise and education.”
In addition to the exhibitions, the Modern Graphic History Library will sponsor a symposium titled An Art of Aspiration: Periodical Illustration and American Visual Culture from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, in Steinberg Hall Auditorium.
The event will focus on illustration, cartoons, comics and other images that are not traditionally addressed by art history and require an interdisciplinary approach to appreciate their historical context. Included will be panel discussions on “Anxious Significance: The Culture of Illustration,” and “Periodical Illustration and the Study of American Culture,” as well as talks by Dowd and Wayne Fields, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor in English and Director of the American Culture Studies Program in Arts & Sciences.
An Art of Aspiration is free and open to the public but advance registration is required. Steinberg Hall is located immediately adjacent to the Kemper Art Museum. To reserve a seat, call (314) 935-7497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olin Library is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays. To RSVP for the library exhibition opening, call the automated response line – (314) 935-8003 – or visit http://library.wustl.edu. For more information about library exhibition, call the Department of Special Collections at (314) 935-5495, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Kemper Art Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays. For more information, call (314) 935-4523 or visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.
WHO: Modern Graphic History Library
WHAT: Two exhibition: Highlights from the Modern Graphic History Library and Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Women’s Magazine, 1940-1960
WHEN: Highlights: Nov. 16 to Jan. 13; opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 16. Ephemeral Beauty: Nov. 16 to Jan. 28; opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 16.
WHERE: Highlights: Olin Library, near the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Tolman Way. Ephemeral Beauty: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards.
COST: Free and open to the public.
INFORMATION: Highlights: (314) 935-8003 or http://library.wustl.edu. Ephemeral Beauty: (314) 935-4523 or email@example.com