November 10, 2009 (Tuesday)
Curator of Books, Avery Library, Columbia University
“The Creation of a Photographic Book in 1866: P. B. Wight’s National Academy of Design”
P. B. Wight’s “National Academy of Design: Photographs of the New Building” was one of the first American architectural books to be illustrated with original photographs. Its publisher was none other than S. P. Avery, one of America’s first great art dealers, as well as the co-founder of Columbia’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. In this talk, Claudia Funke, Curator of Rare Books at Avery, will explore the fascinating and rich circumstances of this unusual publication, including contemporaneous photographic commerce and book publishing; aesthetic theory and artistic practice of the time; and the careers of S. P. Avery, architect Wight, and the book’s little-known photographer. Central to her talk will be a close examination of the book itself—a beautiful production that had no immediate successors—and the often-vertiginous relationship between original artworks, reproductions, and authorial responsibility in the 1860s.