New to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center are two beautifully illustrated books that delight the eye and mind.
Mrs. Delany & Her Circle (Yale, 2009)
Donated to the library by NMWA Founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, this groundbreaking exhibition catalogue presents stunning full-color illustrations of Mary Delany’s dazzling botanical collages. It is the first book to survey the full range of her creative pursuits and engagements with natural science, fashion, and design. It details Delany’s paper-mosaic technique and discusses the social role of women’s handicrafts of the time.
Delany (nee Granville, 1700–1788) was a prominent and accomplishment Englishwoman whose friends included England’s King George III and Queen Charlotte. She gardened, drew, painted, excelled in many handicrafts, and kept up lively correspondences with her contemporaries. She was famous for her exceptionally detailed and accurate botanical collages (decoupages), and, at the age of 72, she embarked on a series of nearly 1,000 of these paper flowers.
Julie Mehretu: Black City (Hatje Cantz, 2007)
The Library Fellows recently gave NMWA a limited edition artist’s book, Sappho, and four original prints by esteemed artist Julie Mehretu (born 1970), which will go on exhibition in the near future. To complement these gorgeous new acquisitions, the library recently purchased a stunning catalogue of a 2007 Spanish exhibition of Mehretu’s work. Like Mrs. Delany & Her Circle, this volume features nearly 200 lush full-color and full-page reproductions of Mehretu’s multilayered, futuristic paintings and drawings. In several scholarly essays, curators and art historians explore the meanings of and inspirations behind the artist’s work.
Mehretu, an Ethiopian-born artist living in Manhattan, creates complex, layered works of art that incorporate architectural drawing, maps, expressionism, graffiti, comic books, landscape painting, and graphic design. She describes her work as having “multifaceted layers of place, space, and time that impact the formation of personal and communal identity.”
A feast for both eyes and mind, these handsome books are available for viewing in the library. Ask for them at the reference desk, and we will gladly get them for you to look at in the reading room. The library is open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1 p.m.–5 p.m.
—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.