I recently walked through the Elizabeth Sackler wing on the 4th floor of the Brooklyn Museum and found myself at Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. This led, quite naturally, to thoughts of food and entertaining. Food evokes an emotional response through both flavor and presentation, and new recipes are the result of creativity. All of these qualities tie the edible to the artistic. Entertaining, too, has a connection to art. The host picks china, glassware, and linens that please the eye and sprinkles them with food to please the tongue and conversation to please the ear. A dinner party could be described as a performance piece enacted by the host and guests. This connection has resulted in a gorgeous array of artists’ books on the subject of food and entertaining.
The Frick Art Reference Library is proud to host the Montias Database of Dutch Art Inventories, compiled by the late Yale University professor of economics John Michael Montias (1928–2005). The database contains information from 1,280 inventories, stored in the Stadsarchief Amsterdam (State Archive), of paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture, and other goods owned by people living in Amsterdam during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This information includes records for the 51,071 individual works of art listed in the inventories and is therefore an invaluable research tool that can help elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying, and collecting art in Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.
The Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) offer many resources for scholars investigating Central European modernism. In conducting research related to the visual arts in Prague between the two World Wars, I was impressed by the number of publications dedicated to this topic and particularly to the highly important Czech modernist artist, critic, author, journalist, playwright, and stage designer Josef Čapek (1887–1945) about whom unfortunately little is known outside the Czech Republic. He is beloved among Czech children as the author and illustrator of the Doggie and Pussycat series of stories, but his importance within the modernist movement far exceeds this aspect of his popularity. In addition to his own work, he wrote plays with his brother, Karel (1890–1938), including the seminal Insect Play and R.U.R.