Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library Acquires Hugh Ferriss Print

NEW YORK, May 8, 2008 Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library has acquired an apparently unrecorded lithograph of a New York landmark, Jefferson Market Courthouse at Dusk, by architectural renderer Hugh Ferriss.

Jefferson Market Courthouse at Dusk by Hugh Ferriss

Hugh Ferriss (1889-1962) is famous for his architectural drawings of visionary architecture and his dramatic views of buildings designed by his contemporaries. As renderer he worked on many of the most famous New York projects of the twentieth century: Rockefeller Center, the United Nations, the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, and Lincoln Center. His two books, The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1928) and Power in Buildings (1953), were landmark publications that still inspire architect and student alike.

Jefferson Market Courthouse at Dusk represents a less documented artistic side of Ferriss’s work, the anecdotal street scene or urban view. The view shows the Women’s House of Detention at the rear of the building, which was demolished when the Courthouse was turned into a public library in the 1960s. A handwritten inscription by Ferriss to Frances McClernan in 1932 documents Ferriss’s place in Greenwich Village artistic society of the 1920s and 1930s. McClernan was married to the bohemian author/actor Harry Kemp.

Avery Library’s collection of more than 350 original Ferriss drawings and sketches were donated by the artist’s family shortly after his death. His drawings and prints are highly prized by institutions and collectors alike; the appearance of this unrecorded lithograph represented a rare opportunity for Avery to add to its holdings.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is one of the most comprehensive collections relating to architecture and the fine arts in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archeology. The Library contains more than 400,000 volumes, including 35,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,000 periodicals. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes one million architectural drawings and records. The Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, an operating program of the Getty Research Institute, which is the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.