This is the third in the series of guest posts written by one of SUNCAT’s Contributing Libraries. Nicholas Brown, Assistant Librarian (Serials & E-resources) based at the Book Library of the Courtauld Institute of Art, tells us about their journals collection and gives us a few of its highlights.
The Courtauld Institute of Art is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the history and conservation of art and architecture, and its Gallery houses one of Britain’s best-loved collections. Based at Somerset House, The Courtauld is an independent college of the University of London.
The Book Library
The Book Library provides access to a significant art historical collection and is one of the major international research collections of art historical books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues in the country, numbering over 180,000 volumes.
A 3D scrollable image of the library is available for you to have a look at the space.
We hold around 800 individual print journal titles, including circa 200 current journal titles. The subject coverage follows the taught courses and research areas at the Courtauld and includes art history with a global scope, contemporary art and theory, conservation and the history of dress. The great majority of our holdings are kept on the open shelves, which facilitates easy browsing. In addition, we also provide access to a much greater number of e-journals focusing on art history and related disciplines.
A small selection of our most important journals are kept in closed access storage but we strongly encourage our staff and students to make use of them. Among our most treasured journals is the first edition of the surrealist journal Minotaure, our copy of which has been signed by Pablo Picasso.
Another important journal from this era is the avant-garde literary journal Transition, which featured writing by authors as Franz Kafka and James Joyce as well as artists including Picasso. Joyce published several serialised works in progress in its pages, some of which would be developed into his late opus Finnegan’s Wake.
Moving further back in time, we have both of the published issues of Blast, Wyndham Lewis’ influential Vorticist journal, also notable for publishing T.S. Elliot. Brown University has made a digitised version but please note the copyright notice for those in the UK or EU.
Jugend was founded in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The fabulous illustration exemplifies the Art Nouveau style, particularly in its German variant, where it brought many Munich artists to prominence. In the 1930s the journal published drawings by George Grosz but with the rise of the Nazi party the journal found itself increasingly at odds with the prevailing mood.
The collection continues to grow both through our regular subscriptions and purchases as well as by bequests from prestigious art historians.
While we prioritise the needs of our own staff and students, external scholars are very welcome to come and use our collections on a last resort basis, meaning that they should be here to consult materials uniquely held at the Courtauld and not readily accessible at public institutions such as the National Art Library or the British Library. If you would like to arrange a visit, please contact us in advance via firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUNCAT would like to thank Nicholas Brown, Assistant Librarian – Serials and E-resources at the Courtauld Institute of Art, for writing this post.