By Date: Turning the Pages at the Art Institute of Chicago

Browse all the Art Institute books that are available to read in their entirety through Turning the Pages. They are listed below in chronological order.
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Christina Ramberg is one of the Chicago Imagists who exhibited in the 1960's and 1970's. Her notebook contains fragments and sketches of costumes and clothing that are referenced in her drawings and paintings as well as her personal notes and even a recipe for a vegetable and sprout medley.
Ed Flood, born and schooled in Chicago, exhibited in shows in the 1960s such as the Nonplussed Some. His sketchbook reflects his beautifully and obsessively crafted paintings and sculptures, and includes floral forms, ideas for objects and the typographic elements they are partially composed of, and figure drawings. Artwork © The Estate of Ed Flood.
Joseph Elmer Yoakum was an artist who started drawing in his seventies, creating inventive landscape drawings between the early 1960s and his death in 1972. Unlike most self-taught artists, Yoakum enjoyed a degree of success and attention while he was alive due to his association with the Chicago Imagists. Artists such as Roger Brown, Lori Gunn, Phil Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Karl Wirsum, Ray Yoshida, and others avidly collected his drawings. Whitney Halstead, an art historian, artist, and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the greatest collector and chronicler of Yoakum’s work. Halstead entrusted four of Yoakum’s five known sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago. These books are titled Workbooks A through D, due to the high level of finish of the drawings. These four Workbooks join hundreds of single sheets gifted by Halstead, Yoshida, and others, making Chicago the largest repository of the artist’s oeuvre.
Joseph Elmer Yoakum was an artist who started drawing in his seventies, creating inventive landscape drawings between the early 1960s and his death in 1972. Unlike most self-taught artists, Yoakum enjoyed a degree of success and attention while he was alive due to his association with the Chicago Imagists. Artists such as Roger Brown, Lori Gunn, Phil Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Karl Wirsum, Ray Yoshida, and others avidly collected his drawings. Whitney Halstead, an art historian, artist, and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the greatest collector and chronicler of Yoakum’s work. Halstead entrusted four of Yoakum’s five known sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago. These books are titled Workbooks A through D, due to the high level of finish of the drawings. These four Workbooks join hundreds of single sheets gifted by Halstead, Yoshida, and others, making Chicago the largest repository of the artist’s oeuvre.
Joseph Elmer Yoakum was an artist who started drawing in his seventies, creating inventive landscape drawings between the early 1960s and his death in 1972. Unlike most self-taught artists, Yoakum enjoyed a degree of success and attention while he was alive due to his association with the Chicago Imagists. Artists such as Roger Brown, Lori Gunn, Phil Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Karl Wirsum, Ray Yoshida, and others avidly collected his drawings. Whitney Halstead, an art historian, artist, and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the greatest collector and chronicler of Yoakum’s work. Halstead entrusted four of Yoakum’s five known sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago. These books are titled Workbooks A through D, due to the high level of finish of the drawings. These four Workbooks join hundreds of single sheets gifted by Halstead, Yoshida, and others, making Chicago the largest repository of the artist’s oeuvre.
Joseph Elmer Yoakum was an artist who started drawing in his seventies, creating inventive landscape drawings between the early 1960s and his death in 1972. Unlike most self-taught artists, Yoakum enjoyed a degree of success and attention while he was alive due to his association with the Chicago Imagists. Artists such as Roger Brown, Lori Gunn, Phil Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Karl Wirsum, Ray Yoshida, and others avidly collected his drawings. Whitney Halstead, an art historian, artist, and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was the greatest collector and chronicler of Yoakum’s work. Halstead entrusted four of Yoakum’s five known sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago. These books are titled Workbooks A through D, due to the high level of finish of the drawings. These four Workbooks join hundreds of single sheets gifted by Halstead, Yoshida, and others, making Chicago the largest repository of the artist’s oeuvre.
Enigmatic and extraordinary, James Castle was a self-taught artist who was deaf and mute from birth, but created his own visual language through his drawings, books and three-dimensional constructions. Like many of his artworks, Untitled (Book), reacts to the graphic elements of found paper advertisements, which he liberally augmented with his trademark soot and spit ink drawings of nearby buildings and landscapes, and tied together with shoelaces.
African American sculptor Marion Perkins lived and worked in Chicago after moving there from Arkansas in 1916. Initially self taught, he had some training through the South Side Community Arts Center in the early 1940s, and also studied ceramics at Hull House. His public sculpture in stone and wood (which he initially displayed in-progress near the news stand he owned on the South Side) aimed at universally understandable imagery. He was a strong believer in racial equality and the need to alleviate African American poverty; seeing abstraction as elitist, he addressed these views in his art. Perkins began to receive commissions, and exhibited in juried exhibitions at the Art Institute throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The Art Institute received a gift of four Perkins sketchbooks from his family in 2010, a group that offers insight into his sources (including African masks), as well as including a variety of types of drawings. This one is predominantly composed of portrait heads with some sketches of religious scenes, as well as a page with three trial impressions of a woodcut of a mother and child.
These dynamic, rough-hewn linocuts from a 1948 limited-edition portfolio were originally produced by Méndez to serve as full-screen backdrops for the credits of the 1947 feature film Río Escondido (Hidden River). The first of several collaborations with director Emilio Fernández, the film provided Méndez with a platform to create a “moving mural” capable of reaching new audiences. In the film, a young, idealistic schoolteacher, played by María Félix, is sent by the government to the remote, impoverished village of Río Escondido, where a cruel local boss controls the town’s resources. The teacher’s resistance to the boss’s authority serves as an inspiration to the townsfolk, who eventually overthrow their oppressors. Both the film and the prints highlight the fragile reality in which rural Mexicans lived and underscore the importance of popular resistance as a means of social change.
Margo Hoff was an American artist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who based her artistic practice in Chicago from 1933 to 1960, where she was at the National Academy of Art in Chicago and later at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, after which she moved to New York City. Hoff drew her imagery from various events, places, and objects in her life. Her existence in Chicago––the cold, icy, and windy winter, her new life alone in a large city, and her encounters with a new community of people––brought about new elements and discoveries in her work. Hoff recorded and responded to her surroundings, describing her sketches as a “kind of shorthand writing.” She likely completed the bulk of this sketchbook at the Ox-Bow School of Art, in Saugatuck, Michigan. It contains drawings of ceramics, carved wood sculpture, and landscapes from the area. She also documented the porch of the old Ox-Bow Inn, with its dining tables and chairs, as well as a lithography press and the dock, all of which still exist today on the campus. Ellen Lanyon, an artist and champion of Chicago art as well as a fellow SAIC graduate, gave the sketchbook to the Art Institute the year after Hoff’s death.
On the Day of the Dead the Taller de Gráfica Popular produced calavera sheets, continuing the tradition popularized by José Guadalupe Posada. In this energetic, collaborative four-page broadside, several Taller artists took up the calavera’s dark humor to lionize military heroes, satirize murderers and the press, and reveal local scandals and international incidents. The broadside’s overarching theme of strangulation was inspired by the recently captured serial killer Gregorio Cárdenas Hernández, the first such criminal to receive extensive coverage in the Mexican press. On the pamphlet’s front page, insectlike reporter-calaveras swarm Cárdenas as he kneels in his jail cell. The interior pages expose the deadly effects of tainted milk and expensive medication and display skeletonlike caricatures of Hitler and French collaborationist leaders Petain and Laval. In contrast, on the back page, Méndez depicted the heroic, mounted calavera of General Seymon Timoshenko, who led the Soviet Red Army against the Nazi siege of Stalingrad, as a new Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary leader.
The handbills in this album exemplify the Taller de Gráfica Popular’s attempts to achieve one of its primary goals: to speak directly to and for the Mexican people, in this case chiefly urban and rural workers. Published monthly by subscription, the handbills address themes of immediate interest and adapt the popular broadside format, developed in the 19th century, of combining informative text with compelling imagery. Some underscore the importance of so-called “graphic propaganda” in promoting workers’ unity and in defending teachers against attacks by antirevolutionary forces. Others had specifically educational functions, such as demonstrating how to post handbills or instructing farmers how to negotiate crop prices.
This bold and colorful sketchbook was made by Charles Wilbert White (1918-1979), an African American painter and printmaker. In fact, he started it while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The visionary Belgian artist James Ensor inventoried nearly 250 paintings and drawings he had made from 1876 onward in this orderly sketchbook. This autograph album with pastel-colored papers was given to the artist in 1929, and Ensor filled it from end to end with idiosyncratic colored-pencil drawings. Alternating between full-page sketches and tiny vignettes, the artist signed and dated each composition. He also inscribed dimensions and current owners and included exacting notes from the versos of artworks still on hand. One watercolor from 1895 of Ensor’s niece in Chinese costume that appears in miniature on page 54 is recognizable as a work now in the Art Institute of Chicago collection. Whether summing up the artist’s oeuvre or documenting the new owners of his artworks, this album provides a rich distillation of all things Ensor.
"From the Strongholds of Sleep: Materialized Poems" is one of the rarest and most important photobooks produced in the 20th century. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Mary Reynolds Collection.
In this humorous, scatological calavera sheet, the artists of the Taller de Gráfica Popular use the satirical skeleton figure to portray the current struggle between the left and the right in contemporary Mexico.
This large-scale, multipage calavera newspaper collectively illustrated by members of the Taller de Gráfica Popular addresses a variety of contemporary international and domestic issues, including imperialist war, Mexican reactionary politicians and members of the press, high food prices, and the struggle over oil resources.
This collectively produced broadside pamphlet was one of the first calavera sheets published by the Taller de Gráfica Popular for the Day of the Dead, drawing on the dark humor, chaotic energy, and satirical edge of the tradition popularized by Posada.
Pablo Picasso's Unknown Masterpiece is an exuberantly illustrated rendition of Honoré de Balzac's nineteenth-century short story about the power and potential tragedy of artistic creation. Picasso drew numerous extra drawings in the margins and over existing prints to embellish this dedication copy for his publisher Henri Matarasso. In some cases, the wood engravings have become unrecognizable as the artist's flourish of color overwhelms the original image.
This pristine unbound copy of Picasso's Unknown Masterpiece shows the book in its original state and paper wrappers, the way it would have been offered for sale in 1931. (This digital version makes it appear bound.)
The prolific German Expressionist painter and printmaker Conrad Felixmüller often depicted his family in his work. He illustrated this charming children’s book for a very personal audience: “my children, Luca and Titus, and for the children of my friends.” His wife Londa wrote the rollicking German verses, which unite two letters of the alphabet on each page within the woodcuts. While some of the subjects—the M for Moor, with a golden nose ring (for N)—are visually striking but politically incorrect today, most of the images reflect the preoccupations and fantasies of early twentieth-century boys, from elephants, giants, and carefree Indians (Native American) to Father Christmas. One of the more curious interpretations, for O and P, translates as “The Hare lays an Easter Egg (Osterei); the Turkey (Puter) makes a loud cry.” The artist himself appears several times, first while carving one of the woodblocks with his children and family cat observing. His son Luca reappears as the letter L. Finally, Felixmüller’s handwritten signature beneath the colophon (held up by another self portrait) confirms that the artist did the hand coloring himself.
Ivan Albright was drafted into the Army during World War I and assigned to be a medical draftsman at a base hospital in Nantes, France. As a member of the X-ray division, Albright was tasked with documenting the injuries of wounded soldiers. Albright completed nearly eight notebooks of these medical drawings. Of the eight, only three survive; most of the others were given away while one, according to the artist, was stolen. This particular sketchbook was completed while he was assigned to the fracture ward of Dr. Leo Czaja. The pages are filled with diagrams of the wounded—rough sketches of the contours of the body with particular focus on the injuries, layered with bright washes of watercolor—and their corresponding X-rays. Upon his return home from the war, Albright pursued a career as an artist. His time spent during the war as a medical draftsman was central to his artistic practice, as his paintings focused on the flesh of the sitter as well as decay and illness. As he saw it, the flesh of his subjects reflected the trauma and the inevitable decomposition of the body.
While living in Paris, the muralist and activist Diego Rivera illustrated this Russian book with Cubist-inspired lithographs; he would later visit Leon Trotsky during his exile in Mexico. © 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Tango with Cows is a supremely fine example of Russian Futurism in print. Subtitled Ferro-Concrete Poems, this collection was printed in letterpress on wallpaper samples, the sheets cut at a provocative angle so that the book’s quality as a visual object overwhelms the legibility of the verses it contains. An encounter between industrial production and personal creativity is compared as a meeting of ballrooms and farm pastures—with the poet merging the two in his guise as a freewheeling, bovine dancer.
Kazimir Malevich put a Cubist and Neoprimitive spin on Russian Futurist books from 1912 to 1914. This one illustrates a poem on the exploits of the devil attempting to trap sinners via the title game of cards. Nathalia Goncharova made her own, very different version of this poem two years earlier, which the Art Institute also owns. Both books were intentionally produced inexpensively on low-quality paper decorated with lithographic image and text, and stapled together. As a result, these works of avant-garde ephemera were never exactly the same, and are now quite rare.
Nathalia Goncharova produced several of these cheaply-made, pocket-sized illustrated books with copious lithographs in an attempt with her Russian avant-garde group of writers and artists to create entirely new ways of relating text and image. Her treatment of Russian Orthodox imagery and icons of saint (in this case, a variety of male and female hermits) and sinners made her work controversial.
Nathalia Goncharova's futurist devil takes many forms as he plays a card game with sinners in this slyly ironic and provocative illustrated poem from the Russian avant garde. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
A sketchbook by the Chicago artist Alfred Juergens, from the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.
The first director of the Art Institute's notebook of observations and experiences during a trip to Europe in 1889.
German buildings and architectural details drawn by Peter J. Weber, who later practiced architecture in Chicago. From the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.
This is the only known sketchbook by the French Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte, painter of the Art Institute of Chicago's famous Paris Street; Rainy Day from 1877 (1964.336). From 1876 he contributed regularly to Impressionist group's shows; he even organized the exhibition of 1877, where Paris Street; Rainy Day debuted. Until 1881, most of Caillebotte’s paintings depicted the contemporary urban life of Paris. This sketchbook of mainly landscape views demonstrates the artist's preoccupation with more bucolic topics in the years after he moved out of Paris to the French countryside. Little is known about his work, travel, or friendships during this period—save for his continued correspondence with Monet and well-documented interest in boating. As a result, this sketchbook, dated precisely during these mysterious years, provides new insights into the life and work of Caillebotte. Nearly every sheet is dated and most have additional inscriptions detailing the specific location depicted. As a result, one can now partially map his travels from June 1883 to September 1886.
Henry Somm (the pseudonym of Francois-Clement Sommier) is best known as an illustrator and caricaturist of late nineteenth-century Paris. Frequenting the same cafés and nightclubs as the Impressionists, he remained on the fringes of that movement with his persistently realistic style. He knew some of these artists well; Henri de Toulouse Lautrec even portrayed Somm in a drypoint print. Somm's sketchbooks are invaluable troves of observation of the Parisienne and her changing wardrobe. Indeed, Somm's Art Institute sketchbook serves as an important counterpoint to the more abstract renderings of women's fashions in the summer 2013 Art Institute exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity.
An untiring chronicler of the Parisian underworld, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec drew prolifically throughout his career, and with great skill from the outset. In fact, he completed his Art Institute Sketchbook around the early age of fifteen. It contains numerous views of fashionable horses and riders in motion, possibly reflecting the interests of his first teacher, an equestrian and military painter. Several sheets evoke circus acts, a topic that remained interesting to Lautrec throughout his life. Others focus on hunting and hunting dogs, including a curious list at the very end translating Russian dog names into French.
Odilon Redon's oblong sketchbook of whimsical creations ranges from melancholy sketches to more finished designs, with contrasting darks and lights abounding.
Cézanne's sketchbook from 1875-86 testifies to the everyday nature of his drawing exercises. Not only does he sketch his entire family, his young sons occasionally take their turn in this book, and a list scribbled near the front details the types of meat the artist ate for a week.
Odilon Redon sporadically contributed original and reproductive sketches to this book through much of his apprenticeship and career, as well as numerous textual and diagrammatic observations on art theory. The changes in handwriting and drawing style alone mark the book as an object he frequently revisited. While sparer than the second sketchbook by the artist owned by the Art Institute and dating from around 1879-85 (also available in Turning the Pages), this one demonstrates a wide range of Redon's classical and technical sources, especially drawings after Old Masters at the Louvre and elsewhere in Paris.
This digitally-rebound sketchbook consists of sheets of soldiers, horses, and other subjects drawn by Géricault around 1818-19. A second sketchbook, from 1813-14 has also been digitized, using the same cover, a type of paper over boards binding that Géricault himself might have used.
German Romantic artists felt close to nature and the historical past; this drawing handbook offered the novice draftsman a wide array of realistic and nostalgic trees to copy.
This digitally-rebound sketchbook of animals, society portraits and copies of old master art by the French artist Géricault is one of two separate books from the same group of drawings now available in Turning the Pages.
Kawamura Bumpo captures the residents of Kyoto, his beloved hometown, working hard and playing hard through his expressive illustrations on the pages of this Japanese woodblock-printed drawing manual.
A Bavarian monastery librarian's love letter to printmaking and religious imagery, completed on February 14, 1798 and comprising almost 1000 separate prints and drawings.
This rare album contains the frontispiece and 22 etchings of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Scherzi di Fantasia, as well as Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, forming one of nine known sets of the Scherzi di fantasia and the only one preserved in its original cover.
Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin's delicate but exuberantly filled sketchbook still retains the printed colored papers with which it was initially bound.
This lavish 158-page bound manuscript is devoted to the miracles of Mary. It was created in the late 17th century in Gonder, the newly established capital of Christian Ethiopia's Solomonic kings. The manuscript is part of a closely related group of manuscripts that were created during a period of great artistic innovation in Christian Ethiopia, when manuscript illuminators were exploring new approaches to their art including the introduction of narrative illustrations. It is likely that this book was commissioned by a wealthy individual as a high-status guide for family devotion.
Lucas Kilian's set of three 'Visions' are interactive anatomical flap prints that allow the viewer to dissect the paper bodies themselves.
Henrich Vogtherr the Elder and his son illustrated an exceedingly popular book of woodcut patterns for artists in Strassburg in 1538. This pirated Dutch copy from about a decade later includes all new woodcuts and no introduction, but captures the abstract spirit of the original with its grasping hands, armor details and elaborate, antiquated women's hairdos.
Lucas Cranach the Younger’s masterful woodcuts delight in showing grappling bodies in motion in this exceedingly rare Renaissance wrestling handbook. Fabian von Auerswald, the then seventy-five-year-old wrestling master of the Duke of Saxony (whose coat of arms appears on the title page) wrote the text. He referred to the images as “artistic and amusing paintings” and presumably oversaw the production of these designs for the woodcuts of the eighty-five different wrestling holds, given their specificity and accompanying step-by-step instructions. Even at his advanced age, Auerswald is shown subduing significantly younger opponents through his superior footwork and knowledge of advanced techniques. An ode to the nobility of unarmed combat, the aristocratic youths seeking to learn this art appear well-heeled and expensively garbed. None appear to have suffered the last resort described by Auerswald on the verso of page D1, the “not very companionable” option of stressing or even breaking the occasional limb to get out of a stranglehold (such as the one seen on the verso of page C6). Indeed, it is reasserted at the end of the introduction that the book (and the wrestling moves it teaches) are guaranteed to please: “A good fellow who ventures to wrestle boldly and well cannot fail.” This particular copy was bound later in seventeenth-century leather, but it is otherwise almost unblemished, a pristine (if not heavily consulted) and beautifully printed testament to Auerswald’s art.
Lucas Cranach's patron, the Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony in sixteenth-century Germany, asked the artist to illustrate a catalogue of his famed collection of saintly remains so that visiting pilgrims and dignitaries could take a souvenir of the experience home with them.
This controversial manuscript with its allegorical line-drawn miniatures cast doubts on the legitimacy of certain members of the papacy.
This very early Book of Hours manuscript for personal devotions boasts intricate Belgian illuminations of the Life of Christ, and prayers added in English.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, monks and preachers throughout Europe employed the Speculum humanae salvationis as an educational tool, including printed versions beginning in the late fifteenth-century. The Art Institute Speculum contains the standard Speculum text, which is comprised of a table of contents, an introduction, forty-five verse chapters, and forty-seven miniatures in varying degrees of completion.
Over 475 human figures populate this over-20-foot-long handscroll, documenting a relatively undiscovered subject in the fourteenth century: the common people. See more handscrolls in motion at the University of Chicago: http://scrolls.uchicago.edu/.
This important anonymous 13th-century Chinese handscroll adopts large-scale figures to enhance the dramatic parting of a scholar from his home province.

While we encourage personal discovery and interpretation of works of art in our care, the commentaries associated with the works in My Collections have not been reviewed or approved for accuracy or content and are expressly not endorsed by the Art Institute of Chicago.

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