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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time Life Art Library

A long while ago, maybe as many as 25 years, when I was actively painting, here in Virginia, I got ahold of an art book called "The World of Vermeer."   It was loaned to me by L.  Now sadly long deceased, L. was the first wife of K., the potter across the road, who later got another wife with the same first name.  L. the 1st had inherited this book from her father, who had subscribed in 1966 to a whole series of such books, put out by the Time/Life Art Library.   (If "Life," like "Time," may not still exist, it was a very big magazine in its day, an oversized weekly or monthly that specialized in news photos.)

      I fell in love with that book about Vermeer and his times.   It introduced me to my favorite period of painting, the Dutch painting in the middle 1600's.   Plus it had a lot of wonderful photos of works from that era, some of which, at some peril to my eyes, I introduced into my own paintings, when I conceived the idea of following the time-hnored practice of copying the Old Masters in order to learn things.   For instance I did one painting that is close to 6 feet long by 4 feet high, and about a quarter of it is taken up by a copy I painted in, of a still life by a guy named de Heem, which has a very tight composition of a lobster and many other interesting things to eat and to see, such as watches and wine glasses, and I think that picture turned out great, if I do say so myself.

. When I saw that this Vermeer book was one of a series, I went around to used book stores and collected others, until eventually I had 13, all of other Old Masters , and in nearly new condition, with each enclosed in an attractive, sturdy slip cover.

 I didn't know how many were in the series, but as more  time passed and I didn't see any others, I assumed that I had most of them.   So I was surprised when just the other day, I discovered that though they took up more than a foot of my valuable bookshelf space, I still didn't have even half of that series, which eventually had amounted to 28!   And through the contiuing miracle of the Internet, I also learned that at this late date, I could still buy all the other 15, and in good condition though mostly used, as all the others I had also had been.

But this poses the classic dilemma of the wisdom of collecting.

I have collected a few things, and inherited a couple of others, but as I do exactly as much selling as I do traveling, which is almost none, having these collections has never been to my financial good, and so it's just for the feeling that I have them and that usually all that they contain is at hand. 

This raises questions that are even more acute now, because I am so old.   Is there some kind of misplaced vanity involved here?   Would it be wasting money?    If I gradually sent off to the numerous resellers at Amazon and got the rest of the series, would it matter any more now than it did 60 years ago for anything else?

The answers amount to a  "No," confided to myself with some trepidation.   But meanwhile I would get a lot of interesting reading, and that's something huge in itself.


Anonymous Stacy said...

Did you ever buy those 15 books?

1:29 PM  
Blogger Damien Lengacher said...


7:21 PM  

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