Surrealism in Egypt

A couple of weeks ago I heard a piece on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (still available here) about an exhibition at Tate Liverpool, on until March next year, which highlights the surrealist movement in Egypt and the associated Art et Liberté group.

Our copy of the related exhibition catalogue is in French (Art et Liberté: rupture, guerre et surréalisme en Égypte (1938-1948)S950.a.201.5158) as the exhibition started off last year at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This major exhibition took six years to bring together and features 130 artworks by 37 painters, along with 200 archival documents. By August next year it will have been seen in five different locations: Paris, Madrid, Düsseldorf, Liverpool and Stockholm. The exhibition catalogue has been produced in five languages, French, Spanish, German, English and Arabic, but not Swedish (I think Stockholm was perhaps a later addition to the tour as it is not included in the itinerary given in the catalogue). Continue reading

Russian Revolution exhibition at the University Library

Futurizm i revoliutsiia (Futurism and revolution) by N. Gorlov; CCD.54.243

This week saw the launch of Revolution : the First Bolshevik Year, a year-long online exhibition which will grow on a monthly basis and will be co-curated with undergraduates.  The first month’s exhibits are also on physical display to readers and the public in the Library’s Entrance Hall for today and tomorrow – Friday 1 and Saturday 2 December 2017.

This exhibition will look at the events of the October Revolution and the year that followed, using a wide range of material from the University Library’s collections to illustrate the dramatic 1917-1918 timeline.  In future months, we will see students from various faculties and departments get involved in the project, giving them the chance to curate books and objects from the Library’s fascinating revolution-era collections.

The first month’s worth of exhibits consists of 11 items in 8 online groups, telling the story of the 27 October/7 November start of the revolution, with postcards of Moscow showing buildings altered by the fighting that took place and foreign accounts of the tumultuous events in Petrograd and beyond, before taking an initial look at the impact of the revolution on the arts.  Regular readers of this blog will be unsurprised to hear that several of these first exhibits (and more of those to come) are from the Catherine Cooke collection.  It is a pleasure to be able to look out items there and further afield in the Library for the exhibition, and I hope that students will feel similarly inspired as they handle this remarkable material.  Monthly updates to the online exhibition will be flagged by further blog posts.

Excerpt from Dvenadtsat’ (The twelve) by Aleksandr Blok with illustrations by Iurii Annenkov; S756.a.91.1

Mel Bach


The Fortunes of the Orlando Furioso, 1516-2016

This guest post by Helena Sanson (Clare College, Cambridge) and Francesco Lucioli (University College Dublin) has been written to accompany the book display in the North Front corridor of the University Library, organised by them in collaboration with Anna-Luise Wagner (Selwyn College, Cambridge)

orlando-furioso-blog-fig-12016 marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance literature, and world literature more broadly: the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (Reggio Emilia 1474 – Ferrara 1533). As a contribution towards the celebrations of this anniversary that has seen conferences and events taking place all over the world, a book display of Orlando furioso editions held in Cambridge University Library will be held between 7 November and 3 December. On Friday 18 November, there will also be an event in Clare College entitled The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016, which is free and open to the general public. The event includes public lectures by Renaissance specialists on the fortunes of the poem in literature, art and music (Clare College, Latimer room, 3-5 pm), followed by a concert of arias inspired across the centuries by this magnificent poem (Clare College Chapel, 6 pm). More details on the event and on how to register can be found here: Continue reading

Curious indeed : Slavonic material in the new Library exhibition

The second major exhibition celebrating the University Library’s 600th anniversary opens to the public today.  Curious Objects presents “a cabinet of curiosities that opens a window onto the nature of collecting, private and institutional”.  The most modern collection featured is that of Russian and Soviet items left to us by Dr Catherine Cooke, with one of the larger cases in the exhibitions given over to an eye-catching selection of material from the extraordinary collection.


Some of the Cooke items in ‘Curious Objects’.

One of the items used in the exhibition, a St Petersburg postcard, has already been described in detail in an earlier blog post.  This is displayed next to the wall text introducing the Cooke case, alongside a reproduction of a box of Sputnik cigarettes from the collection.  The case itself contains a total of 45 late imperial and Soviet items.  Among these are 19 postcards (including a pop-up postcard of St Basil’s Cathedral), 5 bookmarks, 4 badges, 2 packets of tea, and 1 paper bag.  Together, the exhibits give some idea of the rich variety of the Cooke collection.  Dr Cooke built up a wonderful research library of books and journals on Soviet architecture and design and also collected postcards, posters, and mixed ephemera.

The exhibition will run until 21 March 2017.  Online images of the Cooke exhibition material, accompanied by extended captions, are available here:

Mel Bach

‘Crime and Punishment’ at 150 : exhibition opens today

montageIn 1866, the journal ‘Russkii vestnik’ (Russian Messenger) published Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ for the first time.  The University Library is taking part in a transatlantic series of events coordinated by Dr Katherine Bowers (University of British Columbia) and Dr Kate Holland (Toronto)  to mark the anniversary of the novel’s publication.

Strictly speaking, two exhibitions open today and not one – a large virtual exhibition of 22 objects and a smaller physical exhibition in the Library’s entrance hall, with two cases displaying a total of 9 of these same pieces.  Over the course of the year, captions for the exhibitions have been written by Dr Bowers’ undergraduate students in collaboration with us both, and with input from Kristina McGuirk and Barnabas Kirk, research associates at UBC and Toronto.

Continue reading