Author Archives: The University of Chicago Library

WTTW: New gift of Vivian Maier prints includes pictures of world travels, Chicago and people

Vivian Maier photos, artifacts donated to University of Chicago
Chicago Tonight – August 28, 2019

AEON

Art Installation Location: The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Dates:  September 18 – October 31, 2019

Hours: The installation will be open to the general public on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the installation by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library, which is connected to the Mansueto Library.


The view from inside Mansueto Library of the "aeon" exhibit.

The view from inside Mansueto Library of the “aeon” exhibit. (Photo by Tom Rossiter)

Ann Hamilton’s project aeon is a temporary installation in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

The OI is one of the world’s leading interdisciplinary centers for the study of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations. Its world-renowned museum houses the largest collection of artifacts from the ancient Middle East in the United States, including more than 350,000 artifacts with roughly 5,000 on display. The majority of the collections come from the OI’s expeditions in the Middle East during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

In the fall of 2018, Hamilton spent a week in residency at the OI imaging hundreds of objects, mostly from Iraq and Egypt. Her photographic process was unusual; rather than a camera, she used two kinds of scanners: a small early-generation flatbed desktop scanner and a handheld wand scanner, both designed with a shallow depth of field for documents, not three-dimensional objects. To use the flatbed scanner, Hamilton placed small figures on its glass platen and scanned. In contrast, Hamilton guided the wand scanner over the surface of the objects to produce unique images, in a hybrid of gestural drawing and lensless photography.

This process makes the figures seem strangely lively, quickened by the light. The images record the movement of the scanner’s light across the figure over time, but the sense of movement accrues not to the photographic process, but to the figures themselves. This unsettling liveliness echoes a fundamental quality imparted to the figures by their makers millennia ago. The Egyptian Ushabti were placed in tombs in larger numbers, journeying with the entombed person to the world beyond, ready to spring to life as his servants. The Mesopotamian figures were deemed so much alive that they were given food and drink, since the care given to these effigies had direct consequences for people in the underworld.

The glass ceiling of the magnificent Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, with its state-of-the-art technology and award-winning, contemporary design, gives aeon its form. High in the dome and backlit by the sun, these ancient figures seem to stare down at the viewers, deriving agency from their lofty position.

The importance of the Middle Eastern collection at the University of Chicago Library is recognized by scholars throughout the world. The Library shares the Oriental Institute’s commitment to rigorous explorations of the world’s history and is pleased to celebrate this important centennial by hosting Ann Hamilton’s aeon in Mansueto Library and the exhibition Discovery, Collection, Memory: The Oriental Institute at 100 in the Special Collections Research Center in Regenstein Library.

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton (b. Lima Ohio, 1956) is a visual artist internationally acclaimed for her large-scale multi-media installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Hamilton uses common materials as a means of addressing the knowledge that comes from language and touch, creating site-responsive installations for individual and collective experience.

Hamilton has received the National Medal of Arts, MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, NEA Visual Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, the Heinz Award, and was selected to represent the United States at the 1991 Sao Paulo Biennial and the 1999 Venice Biennale.

She received a BFA in textile design from the University of Kansas in 1979 and an MFA in Sculpture from the Yale University School of Art in 1985. Hamilton currently lives in Columbus, Ohio where she is Distinguished University Professor of Art at The Ohio State University.

To celebrate the OI’s 100th anniversary, artist Ann Hamilton has transformed stone and ceramic figures into an installation in the Manseuto Library. (Photo by Tom Rossiter)

Chicago Tribune: Exclusive look at new photographs by Vivian Maier

U. of C. gets thousands of never-before-seen-prints made by famed photographer
Chicago Tribune – August 22, 2019

UChicago Library receives 2,700 vintage photos by Vivian Maier

Gift creates largest institutional collection of acclaimed photographer’s prints

A person smiling

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

The University of Chicago Library has received more than 2,700 vintage prints by celebrated photographer Vivian Maier, few of which have ever been published or displayed.

Collector John Maloof made the donation to the UChicago Library, where they will be preserved and made accessible to researchers in the Special Collections Research Center. The gift includes more than 1,200 black-and-white and 1,400 color prints that Maier made, ranging from her travels around the world to her street photography in Chicago that has received widespread critical acclaim. Because Maier chose to make the prints herself, the collection provides a rare glimpse into her creative process and the photos to which she was drawn.

“This exceptional collection will give researchers and students a more complex understanding of Vivian Maier as a unique figure in 20th-century photography,” said Brenda L. Johnson, library director and University librarian. “We are so pleased that, with the receipt of this magnificent gift from John Maloof, the UChicago Library has the largest collection of Maier photographs held by any museum or library—and the only large collection of Maier’s work that is open to all interested researchers.”

Man working on billboard featuring woman

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

Maloof first discovered the significance of Vivian Maier’s work after purchasing the contents of several storage lockers in 2008 from an auction house, eventually building a collection of more than 100,000 of Maier’s negatives and prints. The Academy Award-nominated documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which Maloof co-wrote and co-directed, depicts his exploration of Maier’s life and work.

Maier was born in New York City in 1926. She spent much of her early life traveling the world before finding a home in 1956 in Chicago, where she worked as a nanny to support her photography. It was only after her death in 2009 that Maier’s work was displayed in museums and galleries to widespread acclaim.

New window into Maier’s creative process

The photo shows a standing man with a cane and another man's face through a window

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

While six major photography books and two biographies about Maier have been published in recent years, much of her work remains unknown. Whereas most recent prints of her work have been made by collectors, Maloof’s gift offers a more direct and personal glimpse into the photographer’s work.

Capturing everything from landscapes to still lifes to candid shots of actors and actresses, the vintage prints demonstrate a variety of subjects and compositional approaches that show the breadth of Maier’s interests. In addition to the prints—which range in size from 2 by 2.5 inches to 11 by 14 inches—the collection also includes cameras, papers and other personal items.

“The vintage prints John donated to the Library were made by Vivian Maier herself in her own darkroom, or printed for her by photo processors at her direction,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center. “Researchers examining the collection will be able to see some examples of how she evaluated and edited her own work, which images she decided to enlarge or reprint, and which ones she chose to crop.”

The prints will provide researchers an opportunity to consider what makes Maier’s work distinctive, said Prof. Laura Letinsky, a photographer who teaches in UChicago’s Department of Visual Arts and serves as its director of graduate studies. She added the collection provides an opportunity to think in depth both about Maier’s influences and her point of view. For example, her depiction of women was one aspect that immediately stood out to Letinsky: “Street photographer Garry Winogrand’s pictures of women are sexy—Maier’s are not.”

People sitting in front of Tailleur

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

Seeing a concentrated group of Maier’s works rather than a small curated selection, Letinsky said, will help students better understand the level of commitment required in photography, as well as how the medium has evolved since the mid-20th century.

“I would talk about the difference in the way people see the world in this era versus our Instagram era now,” Letinsky said. “I’d want them to see the physicality of it.”

The archive also includes examples of items Maier collected: seven still cameras and three movie cameras, plus a variety of lenses, attachments and cases; ring binders and plastic display holders filled with newspaper and magazine clippings; luggage, a travel itinerary, postcards, address books and other ephemera.

This is the second gift Maloof has given to the UChicago Library, following his 2017 donation of 500 Maier prints. After seeing the interest those prints generated among scholars, students and the public, Maloof realized that he needed to give more to build an “effective study collection.”

Maier’s work joins collections of a range of female photographers held by the UChicago Library, including photo-secessionist Eva Watson-Schütze, documentary photographer Mildred Mead, anthropologist Joan Eggan and literary photographer Layle Silbert.



The copyrights in the photography contained in this press release are owned by the Estate of Vivian Maier. The Estate grants a limited license to media and press to reproduce the attached images in articles concerning Vivian Maier and/or John Maloof’s donation of vintage prints of Vivian Maier’s work to the University of Chicago.  Hi-resolution versions of images may be used in connection with print versions of articles only.  For electronic and online publications, the reproduced images may not exceed 1500 pixels on the longest side and 72 dpi.  Unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition could result in liability under the Copyright Act.  Publication of any of these images requires accompanying use of this notice: “Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.”

Media contact: Colleen Mastony, cmastony@uchicago.edu, (773) 702-4254

This story is published on the University of Chicago News site.

Photograph of part of a face (including an eye with glasses) behind part of a stop sign

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

Discovery, Collection, Memory: The Oriental Institute at 100

Exhibition Dates: September 16 – December 13, 2019
Location: Special Collections Research Center Gallery, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Breasted in his Haskell Office

James Henry Breasted in his Haskell Office, ca. 1926. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

The Oriental Institute is one of the world’s premier institutions for the study of the Ancient Middle East. Its roots developed as the University of Chicago was being founded, when President Harper mentored a young scholar named James Henry Breasted to pursue a degree in Egyptology. Breasted went on to direct the Haskell Museum around 1900 and secured funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in May 1919 to begin the Oriental Institute.

This exhibition explores the Oriental Institute’s 100 years of excavation, research, and scholarship. Focusing on the geographical areas of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan, OI scholars have worked rigorously to discover cultural heritage, decipher ancient languages, and to reconstruct the histories of long-lost civilizations. The exhibition remembers the OI’s past through archival fragments, artifacts, and ephemera as it celebrates its centennial.

Curator: Anne Flannery, Head of Museum Archives, Oriental Institute

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the exhibit by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library. 

Exterior of Oriental Institute viewed from street

Oriental Institute, 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

Associated Museum

The Oriental Institute
The University of Chicago
1155 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download to members of the media and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.

For more information and images, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

 

Man at top of ladder and three men near base of ladder near wall

The Epigraphic Survey staff photographing inscriptions. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey.

 

Aerial view of pyramids at Abu Sir

Aerial view taken by James Henry Breasted of the pyramids at Abu Sir. It was taken with a bellows camera in an open-cockpit plane. 1920. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

Discovering Chicago’s rare books with Elizabeth Frengel

Elizabeth Frengel holds a rare book

Elizabeth Frengel, curator of rare books (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

In her first year as curator of rare books in the Special Collections Research Center, Elizabeth Frengel has begun discovering the Library’s diverse treasures and identifying opportunities to enhance its holdings. Frengel came to the University of Chicago Library from her position as Head of Research Services at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. At Chicago, she is responsible for building and caring for the collections, as well as engaging faculty, students, and donors with the Special Collections Research Center’s materials, services, and programs.

With 340,000 rare books in Special Collections, Frengel has examined gems of historical importance and surpassing beauty. While delicately turning the pages of one of her favorites, an 1894 Kelmscott edition of The Tale of King Coustans the Emperor, Frengel notes the elegance of its inner design in contrast to the slightly worn condition of its exterior. Acquired with support from the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Rare Book Fund, this particular volume likely functioned as a press room or proof copy, or a remainder held by the press. “Such extra-textual components of the book can inform scholars’ understanding of the production processes of the press,” Frengel explains. Additionally, the work contains a handwritten note by Charles W. Howell on the front free endpaper stating that this copy survived the infamous fire at the Ballantyne Press in 1899. Such a notation further reveals this volume’s history and role as a complex cultural object rather than simply a textual conduit.

A hand points at an Arctic expedition map

A 16th-century Arctic expedition map bequeathed by Eleonora C. Gordon, M.D. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

From handwritten notes to book illustrations, Frengel observes that extra-textual elements in the rare books collections often infuse works with layers of meaning and rich research value. For instance, Frengel was thrilled to see the Library become the new home of two exquisitely illustrated items documenting 16th century polar explorations, bequeathed by Eleonora C. Gordon, M.D.: a map and an Arctic expedition log supplemented with stunningly clean and detailed engravings depicting the crew’s adventures with a sweeping sense of dynamism.

Since arriving at Chicago, Frengel has also had the opportunity to work with Graham School student Robert S. Connors, who generously donated to the Library nearly 400 rare volumes from the 15th to the 20th centuries. According to Frengel, “Acquisitions such as this are important to scholars studying the transmission of classical texts through time and across cultures.” She is especially grateful to have received eleven incunable titles from the earliest period of European printing, including a 1475 edition of Augustine’s Confessions.

Frengel plans to continue learning as much as possible about the immense collections of rare books at Chicago. She envisions helping to build collections through acquisitions in areas such as classical texts in the early modern period, including Homer in print; Judaica; 19th-century literature; African Americana; and works that illustrate the history of the material text.

The Library looks forward to more energetic years of intellectual curiosity and thoughtful curation of rare books in the future.

Hands hold open a book with text in red and black

This 1894 Kelmscott edition of “The Tale of King Coustans the Emperor” was saved from the fire at Ballantyne Press in 1899. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Alumni Weekend at the Library

The University of Chicago Library welcomes alumni back to campus with four special programs. Alumni and their guests are welcome to register online and peruse a wide selection of programming taking place throughout campus from Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9, 2019.

UChicago Alumni Weekend - June 6-9, 2019Special Collections Research Center Alumni Donation Event

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Special Collections Research Center, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 2:30–4:00 p.m.

The University archives document all aspects of student life. Alumni are invited to bring some of their own UChicago history back to campus to add to the collections. UChicago T-shirts, buttons, tote bags, posters, programs, flyers, and more are welcome. Talk with the University’s assistant archivist about other student memorabilia you might want to donate. Special Collections will be displaying a selection of student life items from the archives for you to enjoy.

Tour the John Crerar Library, Department of Computer Science, and the MADD Center

The John Crerar Library, 5730 S. Ellis Ave.

  • Thursday, June 6, 1–2 p.m.
  • Friday, June 7, 10–11 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 10–11 a.m.

The newly renovated John Crerar Library is home to collections and resources in the sciences; the Department of Computer Science; and the new Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD), including the Research Computing Center Visualization Lab. Tour these new facilities and see demonstrations of digital fabrication, data visualization, wearable technology, and more.

Library Resources for Alumni

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Room 122B, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 11:15–11:45 a.m.

Join librarian Greg Fleming to learn about UChicago Library resources and services for alumni, including how to establish borrowing privileges, access online resources, and obtain research assistance.

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Tour: Discover the Dome

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Lobby, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 3–4:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 12–1:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 3:15–4:30 p.m.

The UChicago Library remains at the center of research, learning, and campus life at UChicago. Tour the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn. Admire the striking glass-domed Grand Reading Room, and see the robotic storage and retrieval system.

 

When Fascism Wins: 80 Years from the Spanish Anti-Fascist Exile

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Third Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 1 – June 15, 2019

Photograph of María Teresa León

María Teresa León, 1938 (Source: Archivo Isabel Clara Ángeles Alarcón, Barcelona)

Curated by Collegiate Assistant Professor Miguel Caballero, with a selection of poems and prose translated into English by Maya Osman-Krinsky (Class of 2021)

In the spring of 1939, General Francisco Franco and his allied Nazi and Fascist forces took Madrid and Catalonia. After three years of war, the Spanish Republic eventually collapsed. Hundreds of thousands died or went into exile, among them dozens of writers and artists. Many fled to Europe, which was on the cusp of the Second World War. Many others moved to Latin America, the Soviet Union and even the United States, where they spent decades, as Franco’s military dictatorship continued in Spain.

The Regenstein Library has a rich collection of works by these authors who died fighting fascism or had to flee Spain. Some never came back. This exhibition, on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of their mass exile, is a homage to their political commitment and literary endeavors. Curated by Collegiate Assistant Professor Miguel Caballero, with a selection of poems and prose translated into English by Maya Osman-Krinsky (Class of 2021), it presents a selection of works written in the 1930s or during exile organized around three themes: uprooting and death; domestic epics; and self-sufficiency and power.

Tribune: Bellow Papers at UChicago Library ‘bring you closer to the writer’

Diving into Saul Bellow’s archives
Chicago Tribune – May 16, 2019

Maroon: UChicago Library ‘ideal place’ for collection of rare books

Alum Donates 400 Volumes to Special Collections
Chicago Maroon – May 7, 2019