Identities and identification in the Liberation Collection

Earlier this year, Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey spoke about the visual side of the peerless Liberation Collection he has donated to the University Library.  This post, however, focuses on an unillustrated book whose interest, certainly for me as a librarian, lies in the identity of the author.

An important part of cataloguing work in the Library is what we call authority work – adding or editing records for people for the master authority file hosted by the Library of Congress.  Each record provides a unique main heading for an individual (eg Hugo, Victor, 1802-1885) and cites books where this and other forms of names appear.  By using this unique heading in a catalogue record, all works by or about someone will file together in a library index even if the person’s name might appear differently in each separate book (eg V. Hugo).

Many of the books in the Liberation Collection need this authority work.  More often than not, a new authority needs to be created.  Sometimes the author has a record already but we need to update it to note a different form of the name.  On the odd occasion, the book we are looking at is on such a different topic to those cited in the writer’s authority record that without further investigation we might assume that our author is someone different.

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Mid-century Ukrainian book covers : the June 2018 Slavonic item(s) of the month

In the past few years, the University Library has been very fortunate in receiving the private libraries of two late British Ukrainians – Peter Yakimiuk and Teodor Kolassa.  Together, these donations have added hundreds of chiefly diaspora publications to the Library’s 20th-century Ukrainian collection.  This blog post celebrates a few of the many eye-catching book covers to be found amongst them.  All but the last of the six items detailed here were produced in Europe within a few years of the end of World War 2.  Please click on each image to see a larger version.

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“Not bad” : 100-year-old comments on an exhibition in Petrograd : the April 2018 Slavonic item of the month

Front cover of the catalogue (CCB.54.143)

100 years ago, the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts held an exhibition of works by members of the famous Peredvizhniki (or Wanderers, Oxford Art Online‘s preferred translation).  In the Catherine Cooke collection, the UL has a programme from the exhibition.  What makes our copy such a delight is that it contains pencilled comments by a visitor to the exhibition.

The catalogue, a slight and entirely unillustrated 14-page publication, lists the members of the Peredvizhniki followed by the names of their paintings exhibited, and then lists eksponenty – exhibitors – and their paintings.  The relationship between the first group and the second is not entirely clear to me.  In G.B. Romanov’s 735-page Peredvizhniki encyclopedia (S950.b.200.4794), the entry for the exhibition – which opened in March 1918 – provides a list of artists and exhibits that contains some but not all of the artists and paintings from both lists, undifferentiated, in the catalogue.

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UNOVIS, Vitebsk’s avant-garde Union of the New Art

Front cover

Later this week, on 19 and 20 April, the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, will hold an international conference in Cambridge on The People’s Art School and Unovis in Vitebsk.  Vitebsk, in present-day Belarus, was the home of an extraordinary avant-garde art school at which Marc Chagall (the town’s most famous son), Kazimir Malevich, and El Lissitsky taught.  Many of the artists at the school joined the art union UNOVIS, set up by Malevich.  Unovis stands for Utverditeli novogo iskusstva (Champions of the New Art).

Among the early Soviet treasures in Catherine Cooke’s collection in the University Library is a small and fragile Unovis publication dating from January 1921 and described as the union’s second publication or edition.  On its cover is Malevich’s famous Black Square, with the words “Let the overthrow of the old world of arts be traced out on the palms of your hands” written above it.  The booklet has four sections in it (NB the links below are to Russian Wikipedia entries for the authors):

Back cover

Party membership in art / M. Kunin
Unovis in ateliers / L. Khidekel’
The Architecture Faculty / I. Chashnik
On still life / L. Iudin

On its back cover, the booklet ends with an exhortation: “Comrades! Get ready for the all-Russian spring exhibition of ‘Unovis’ in Moscow”.

Lithographed on poor-quality paper, the booklet is a rather miraculous survivor.  According to the WorldCat and COPAC union catalogues, Cambridge is unique amongst major Western collections in having a copy.  The title can be accessed through the Rare Books Reading Room.  Its classmark is CCC.54.464.

A few spaces remain at the conference this week.  For those interested in attending, please see this page for joining details.

Mel Bach

 

Talk on the Liberation Collection, 22nd February

Originally posted on the Special Collections blog:

On Thursday 22nd February Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey will give a talk to the Cambridge Bibliographical Society on ‘The power of the image in liberated France, 1944-46’.

His talk is inspired by imagery from the collection he has put together (recently presented to the University Library) on the German occupation of France during the war and its liberation by the allied forces. Beautiful books began to be published immediately after the liberation of Paris in August 1944 even though the war was still being fought in France. Once Paris was free and the Vichy government had collapsed, censorship came to an end, and it is the immediacy of this response and the quality of the books themselves that makes this period so interesting for the history of the book.

Talk starts at 17.00. Tea from 16.30 before the talk.

Free event, no booking required. Members and non-members of Cambridge Bibliographical Society welcome.

Milstein Seminar Rooms, Cambridge University Library
Thursday, 22 February, 2018
17.00-18.00

All welcome; booking not required

Victoire, numéro special (Paris, 1945)