Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books - Jo Steffens

Born of a museum exhibition, Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books (Yale Univ., $20) is a delightful appreciation of books and builders. As you flip through this viscerally appealing, yet highly cerebral, volume, what at first seems an unlikely amalgam of subjects and media becomes coherent and important. New York’s Urban Center Books visited twelve of today’s preeminent architects (Michael Sorkin, Bernard Schumi, Toshiko Mori, Todd Williams, and Billie Tsien among them) to discuss and photograph their libraries. Each architect has compiled a far-reaching top ten list, which is fodder for the interviews; a spread of the “Top 10” covers accompanies precisely annotated photographs of the libraries, and close-up views of select shelves. Edited by Jo Steffens, this book of profiles is titled after a Walter Benjamin essay, which is included as a preface. Benjamin—and each of these architects—meditates on the essence of the book collector and our relationship to these objects.

Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books By Jo Steffens (Editor) Cover Image
By Jo Steffens (Editor)
ISBN: 9780300158939
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - November 30th, 2009

Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World - Sharon Waxman

We don’t have to tell Politics and Prose customers that politics touches everything, but I previously knew little about the culture wars raging between museums and various nations. Now we have several books on this issue. Loot (Times Books, $30), by Sharon Waxman, is an entertaining account of tensions between the old imperial nations and the countries that were once “looted” for their treasures. Meet Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, who’s at war with the Louvre to recover treasures Napoleon carried home with him more than two centuries ago. It’s a new headache for Western museum directors, like Alain Pasquier, chief conservator of Greco-Roman antiquities at the Louvre. But it’s not just Europe under pressure; Turkey is trying to repatriate tombs and precious objects sold to the Met relatively recently.

Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World By Sharon Waxman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805090888
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Times Books - September 1st, 2009

Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures - Cynthia Saltzman

Is there a difference between grabbing “the loot” as part of an imperial expedition and buying it in great quantities as the Americans did? The subtitle of Cynthia Saltzman’s Old Masters, New World (Viking, $27.95) is America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures. Saltzman describes how the nouveau riche Americans (and they were very rich, many from extractive industries in the U.S.) sought out paintings in England, France, and Italy to add to their collections. “The legacy of America’s Gilded Age buying binge stretches across the country…but the beauty of the museum galleries reveals little of the rough and tumble involved in the …pursuit of pictures.” Henry Clay Frick, of course, Mrs. Gardner of Boston, the Havemeyers, whose collection adorns the Metropolitan, and J. Pierpont Morgan, with even more money, were bidding up the prices of the old masters and carting them off to the New World. This sparkling book is a must for all American museum-lovers.

Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures By Cynthia Saltzman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143115311
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Books - July 28th, 2009