Monday, July 29, 2013

Visual arts

Visual arts: the practice of shaping material such as wood or stone, or applying pigment to a flat or other surface, with the intention of representing an idea, experience or emotion.
(Greenhalgh & Duro in Blazek & Aversa, p. 147)
Broader term “fine arts”

Fine Arts
“Term applied to the ‘higher’ non-utilitarian arts, as opposed to applied or decorative arts. In its most common usage the term is taken to cover painting, sculpture, and architecture (even though architecture is obviously a ‘useful’ art), but it is often extended to cover poetry and music too. The term did not come into use until the 18th cent., a key work being Les Beaux Arts réduits à un même principe (1746), by Charles Batteaux (1713-80). Batteaux divided the arts into the useful arts, the beautiful arts (sculpture, painting, music, poetry), and those which combined beauty and utility (architecture, eloquence). Soon after, in Diderot’s Encylopédie, the philosopher D’Alembert (1717-83) listed the fine arts as: painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, and music. This list established itself and in England the term ‘five arts’ was sometimes used in its place with similar meaning.”
(Oxford Dictionary of Art, © Oxford University Press, 1997)

Major divisions of the visual arts
  • Pictorial arts
    • Painting
    • Drawing
    • Photography/moving pictures/video
    • Mosaics
    • Graphic arts (use printing process)
      • Intaglio
      • Cameo/relief
      • Lithography (pianographic method)
  • Plastic arts
    • Sculpture
      • Three dimensional
      • Perhaps oldest form of art
  • Building arts
    • Architecture
  • Minor arts
    • Crafts, decorative arts, collectibles
    • Includes: ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, ivory, precious gems, wood, reeds, synthetics
    • Either useful e.g. coins, clothing, baskets, utensils, furniture, or ornamental e.g. jewellery, stained glass, embroidery, lace
  • Primary source material the actual work of art, e.g.
    • Painting
    • Sculpture
    • Photograph, etc.

Types of art catalogues
Catalogue raisonné: Complete listing of artist’s work usually with an illustration of each piece. Provides descriptive entries for each item citing dimensions, dates, locations, related bibliographies, etc.
John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné
Marc Chagall : The Grafic Work : Online Catalogue Raisonné
Oeuvre catalogue: Like catalogue raisonné, but may omit documentation and provenance
Jan Adam Zandleven Museum : Œuvre catalogue
Corpus catalogue: a catalogue raisonné for an entire category of art.
Museum catalogue: catalogue of museum’s permanent collection
Exhibition catalogue: works from a variety of museums/owners brought together for a particular temporary exhibition
Auction and sales catalogue: document works sold in art market.
Typical arts reference questions
  • Many at popular nonspecialist level about a particular artist or famous work of art, e.g. finding a reproduction
  • Definition of a term or info on a topic, e.g. techniques used in enamel work
  • Directory questions about museums, auction houses, etc.
  • Do not attempt to answer questions re valuation, leave these to an expert
Art libraries
  • Collect info about art not art objects
  • Art books generally expensive, rare works common, special physical care and security required
    • Take into account shelving materials; their glossy paper, colours, price, weight, size and specific audience
Types of art libraries
  • Museum libraries
  • Art schools
  • Public libraries
  • Design agencies, architectural firms, art galleries, industries
Academic art libraries
  • Clientele has expanded to include other disciplines e.g. history, anthropology, religious studies, etc.
  • Rare book collections not unusual, require special protection
  • Academic art library often has broadest collection of any type of art library
Museum libraries
  • Developed in 18th century as reference collections for staff
  • Photographic archives, slide collections, vertical files often maintained
  • Special collections of auction and sales catalogues
  • Often houses museum’s archives
  • Often acquire papers of artists featured in their collections
Public libraries
  • Typically focuses on more popular aspects, e.g. how-to books, broad histories, surveys of art movements, etc.
  • Local artists’ files
Art school libraries
  • Reflect curriculum
  • Books+ e.g. picture files, videos, posters, trade catalogues, catalogues of fabric swatches, wallpaper, colour charts, paint chips, etc.
  • Current periodicals and exhibition catalogues of contemporary art important
Cataloguing & classification
  • Dewey 600s, 700s
  • LC majority in N’s, also T’s, B’s
Performing arts
  • Those arts such as theatre, dance, and music, that result in a performance (International Dictionary of Theatre Language)
  • Include
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Opera
    • Theatre
    • Motion pictures/video
    • Radio and television
  • Drama: literary component
  • Theatre: theatrical production i.e. public performance
    • Allied fields
      • Acting
      • Costume
      • Make-up
      • Directing
      • Theatre architecture
Works about theatre in libraries
  • Texts of plays (dramas) usually classed with other literature works
    • Texts of plays therefore separated from works about the performance of plays
      • E.g. “Drama,” classed in PN, actual plays under literature e.g. “Six Canadian Plays” classed in PR
Theatrical topics include
  • “legitimate” stage
    • Manitoba Theatre Centre
  • Burlesque
    • Risqué
  • Vaudeville
    • Less risqué
  • Circus
  • Puppet theatre
    • Library involvement
  • Festival and pageant
  • Mime
  • Performance art
    • One-off, temporary, short term
  • Musical theatre
    • Introduction, dinner theatre
  • Opera
Theatres with different missions and audiences include
  • Children’s theatre
  • Educational theatre
  • Street theatre
  • Experimental theatre
  • Commercial theatre
Ephemeral or fugitive materials include
  • Playbills
  • Posters
  • Press releases
  • Advertisements
  • Souvenir booklets
  • Newspaper and journal clippings
  • Tickets
  • Scrapbooks
  • Photographs
  • Contracts
  • Financial records
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Notebooks
  • Promptbooks
  • Scene properties
  • Illustrations
  • Realia
  • Memorabilia
Collect as published or ask for donations
  • Writers, biographers, historians, drama critics, feature writers, students
  • Theatre workers e.g. designers, producers, directors, technicians
  • Research workers for production companies especially interested in historical accuracy
  • Audience members seeking information about a production or performer
  • Professionals/researchers from other disciplines e.g. health, athletics, educators, psychologists, etc.
  • Folk, ballroom, theatre e.g. ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap
  • Choreography
    • Historically passed from dancer to dancer now being preserved in written, filmed/videotaped forms
Dance scholarship
  • Not so well established as a distinct field
  • Much done in the past by musicologists, rather than specialists in dance
  • In colleges/universities – often part of other departments
    • Music
    • Phys. Ed.
  • Not surprisingly, dance librarianship not always well-defined
A broad ranging subject
  • Ballet
  • Modern dance
  • Jazz
  • Tap dance
  • Ice dancing
  • Social and folk dancing
  • Ethnic dance
  • Religious dance
  • Musical comedy dance
  • Vaudeville
Unique problem: ephemeral nature of dance
  • A theatre play still exists in text after a performance.
  • However, nothing exists after a dance performance except the memories of the audience and perhaps a published review.
  • Paintings, sculptures, photography have helped over the years, but movement cannot be accurately recreated from still poses
  • Consequently, film and video have helped tremendously
Transmission of dance
“It took Ann Hutchinson Guest from 1956-1988 to recreate Nijinsky’s steps for “L’Apres Midi d’un Faun,” and Millicent Hodges took from 1970-1987 to recreate the original choreography of “Le Sacre du Printemps.”
Marcia Parsons
  • Passing
    • Stylistic characteristics and techniques
    • Specific dances and roles
    • From one performer to another in a master-apprentice style
  • The problem is that changes will inevitably occur over time.
  • The problem is even greater for “cultural”, ethnic and ritual dancing
  • Societal traditions are changing so much and so quickly that many dances are dying out with no record of them being kept

DanceWriting is a way to read and write any kind of dance movement. A stick figure is written on a five-lined staff. Each line of the staff represents a specific level. The bottom line of the staff is called the Foot Line. It represents the ground. The next line up is the Knee Line, which is at knee level, when the stick figure stands straight. The next line up is the Hip Line, and after that, the Shoulder Line.
When the figure bends its knees or jumps in the air, it is lowered or raised accordingly on the staff. The five-lined staff acts as a level guide. Figures and symbols are written from left to right, notating movement position by position, as if stopping a film frame by frame.
Another system of dance notation can be found at

Many types of resources
  • Reference dictionaries
  • Encyclopaedias
  • Guides
  • Handbooks
  • Bibliographies
  • Directories
  • Plot summaries
  • Monographs on dancers, choreographers, companies, and individual dances
  • Conference proceedings
  • Recordings of dance music
  • Reminiscences of performers and viewers
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Videos
  • Photographs
  • Serials
  • Electronic indexes and abstracts
Public libraries may sponsor:
  • Audio-visual presentations
    • Movies
  • Speakers
  • Performances
    • If libraries have attached theatres
    • Small audiences
  • Exhibits are appropriate in all libraries
  • Public libraries may want more “how to” materials
    • “How to ballroom dance”
  • Research libraries often serve broader range of users than just the dance department:
    • The other arts
    • History
    • Literature
    • Language area studies
    • Anthropology
    • Religion
    • Physical therapy
    • Sports medicine
Literature scatter
  • Works on physical health, diet, or dance injuries may be under medicine
  • Ethnic dancing may be under
    • Music
    • Theatre
    • Anthropology
    • Ethnic studies, etc.
Material in different languages
  • Much important material is published in French, Italian, German, Russian
  • Not everything is available in translation
Motion pictures/video
  • Feature films and shorts
  • Feature films, defined roughly as a narrative film at least an hour in length, and are often up to and over 3 hours
  • Forms of film
    • Educational
    • Animated
    • Documentary
    • Advertising
    • Music videos
1. The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. 2. Vocal or instrumental sounds processing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm. 3a. A musical composition. b. The written or printed score for such a composition. c. Such scores considered as a group: We keep our music in a stack near the piano. 4a. A musical accompaniment. 5. A particular category or kind of music. 6. An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Ed. © 2000 Houghton Mifflin.
  • Traditionally emphasis on “classical” music in libraries
  • Composition, performance, study of music (musicology)
  • Ethnomusicology
    • Music of non Western cultures allied to anthropology
  • Reference literature diverse must cover
    • Performance & performers
    • Written music
    • Recordings
    • Secondary writings
Music libraries
  • Universities/colleges
  • Music conservatories
  • Public libraries
  • Churches
  • Broadcasting companies
  • Orchestras/opera companies
Music literature
  • Scores and sound recordings important
  • Study (miniature) scores
  • Piano-vocal (vocal) scores
    • Operas, oratorios
  • Sheet music
    • Usually housed in vertical files
  • Libretti
    • Text of musical works without the music e.g. operas
  • Recordings (audio & video)
    • Performance archives
    • Instructional purposes
  • Specialized “Bibliographies”
  • Thematic catalogue (thematic index)
    • Bibliographies of an individual composer or collection (include opening notes (incipit))
    • Usually, place/date of composition, instrumentation, key, original title, bibliographical descriptions of works listed, bibliography of references to work, etc. e.g. Köchel’s thematic catalogue of Mozart
  • Discography
    • Serves same function for recorded sound as bibliography does for printed materials

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