Monday, October 03, 2005

Art Decodance


After you spend a bit of time wandering around the strange corridors of obscure library websites late at night for long enough, it's easy to despair at the obstacles put in the way of finding material.

One might well imagine that there is an army of website managers and archivists who seemingly go out of their way to annoy visitors by conciously adding infuriating cataloguing systems or deadend links or false advertizing or flash, frames and freaking pop-ups with context menu-stripping and associated bothersome architecture. At a guess, I'd say more than 1/2 the library websites of the world have antiquated or illogical and inept structures in place.


But there are a number of sites that I regard as challenging rather than despising them per se. These are the occasional pitfall-ridden, wonky portals that give off all the signs of holding within their rickety base, some skerrick of redeeming digital value. Just some morsel of interesting history or a rare scientific, literary or artistic work is all I'm after. Not too much to ask from a library I would have thought.

I can close my eyes and find these bookmarks. I return to them periodically after the memory of the last frustrating attempt at stripmining their contents has faded. And so it is with parts of the University of Virginia web labyrinth.

It was not my intention to use BibliOdyssey for venting so I expect this to be a rare noisy interruption to the flow of signal that takes my fancy. Please to forgive.


The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia set up a website in honour of a set of lectures delivered by Gordon N Bray - Illustrations for the Art Deco book in France which he delivered in 1985. There are a fair number of illustrations that were collected from various repositories and there are notes about each item displayed.

Now that I have found this tidbit of goodness I can tell you that not only was it never published but both the Grolier Club in New York and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford are said to hold the lecture material. But you probably didn't really want to know that.

The Lectures - thumb pages:

  1. The Livre d'Art of the 1920s
  2. George Barbier
  3. François Louis Schmied
  4. Jean Émile Laboureur
  5. Pierre Legrain and Art Deco Bookbinding
It's nothing spectacular perhaps and I haven't searched to see - this site may have been posted around the place. But there is a little artisic or kitschy goodness there for most visual arts aficionados, depending on their slant. And for me, at least half the goodness comes from out manouvering the information fragmenting brigade. Kerchink!

2 comments :

jmorrison said...

hearty agreement from these quarters.

i was actually just marveling a couple of days ago about this. had to vent to my girlfriend. though it actually extends well beyond library sites.

so far as i can tell essentially any site with scholarly, off the beaten path, material has some antiquated dawn-of-the-internet type of interface. to say nothing of scholarly writings which are more often than not subscription only. which means essentially that all the materials REALLY worth reaching is nearly unreachable.

shame really.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the above.

Nice find, appropriately titled.

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