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Art Library

Welcome

About the Art Library

The Vassar College Art Library is a rare example of a complete modernist interior from the pre-World War II period in the United States.  Built in 1937, the interior was designed by John McAndrew, an architect as well as educator, who taught architectural history and drafting in the Vassar College Department of Art from 1932 to 1937. 

The clarity, openness, and textured warmth of the space is in keeping with the American or what McAndrew termed a "naturalized" version of the machine aesthetic, which he would go on to promote in his role as Curator of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art between 1937 and 1941. The vivid colors of the library interior draw on Le Corbusier’s purist principles and their relationship between color and space. McAndrew's Art Department colleagues referred to this dynamic and forward-looking space as the expression of a new functionalism in architecture.  

As a learning environment it was exactly that, an elegantly-crafted machine in which every surface, volume, and design element was shaped and illuminated for the efficient appropriation of a knowledge of the history of art through group and individual study.  McAndrew's space has now been carefully renovated to recover its original function through a restoration of the original interior on designs by another architect/educator, the late Paul Spencer Byard, and his partner Charles A. Platt, of the New York-based firm of Platt Byard Dovell White

For a beautifully illustrated historical account of the life and work of John McAndrew, his design of the Vassar College Art Library, and his role in the development of architectural modernism in the United States, see the architectural historian Mardges Bacon's newly-published monograph, John McAndrew's Modernist Vision: From the Vassar College Art Library to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, published in 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press, also available at a substantial discount through Amazon.

 

NEWS & EXHIBITS

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Geological Illustration from Catastrophism to the Anthropocene

RECEPTION MONDAY OCT 22 5:00-7:00 P.M.

An Exhibition at the Vassar College Art Library October 4 - December 15, 2018

 

 

Suzanne Blier: Agnes Claflin Lecture

On November 6th at 6p.m. in Taylor 203, Suzanne Preston Blier, Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, will deliver her lecture “Picasso's Demoiselles: Africa, Sex, Origins & Creativity.”

Horseshoe Falls and Table Rock, ca. 1856–57

Past Time: Geology in European and American Art

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, September 21 - December 9, 2018.

More information >