Author: Mir Finkelman

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Image features a green, New York City street sign composed of a landscape-orientation rectangle with "W 125 St" in white letters. The "125" is largest, in the middle, and the other text is slightly smaller, on either side, and higher up. The material of the sign will reflect light, and appears in this image with a small diamond pattern, like a chain-link fence. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
We’re Walkin’ Here!
The first street signs in New York City, known as “direction boards,” were posted in 1793 and were largely used on horsecars.[1] They were intended to “rationalize the city’s built environment,” and have undergone many changes over the years. The recognizable rectangular shape of today’s signs, like this one in Cooper Hewitt’s collection, date to...
An interior scene showing Christie's Auction Room in the year 1808 from the print series 'Microcosm of London.' A crowd stands in a high-ceilinged room, with cool green walls and light streaming in through high windows. Paintings in ornate and gilded frames are hung salon-style, seemingly jumbled, with vaguely recognizable classical compositions: here an Annunciation, there an Adoration, a saint, or an equestrian scene, a portrait. A framed reclining Venus (nude woman) is displayed on the auction stand, next to an auctioneer who gestures with his gavel. A lively and colorful crowd fills the room, with detailed dress and caricatured features.
Caricatured Christie’s
Comprised of 104 individual plates and published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810, The Microcosm of London was originally issued in twenty-six monthly parts. Published by Rudolph Ackermann (1764—1834), it supplied the luxury print market with a comprehensive volume on contemporary London. Cooper Hewitt holds a large number prints from the Microcosm, including this...
This poster for the exhibition “Impressions/Expressions: Black American Graphics” bears the title at top, with credit information below. A brightly colored image draws the eye at the center of the poster, a lithograph by the artist Margo Humphrey. A border of purple, red, and orange surrounds an abstracted scene, with a bright blue sky. A large yellow tiger, sketchily drawn, bears its teeth at the bottom of the frame, while a pair of figures float above, in embrace. Surrounding these figures, chili peppers, bananas, moons, and stars seem to rain from above,
First Impressions/Expressions Count
In October of 1979, an exhibition entitled Impressions/Expressions: Black American Graphics opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The show, associated with the second annual “Survival of the Black Artist” Fine Arts Festival, later traveled to Howard University—alma mater of the exhibition’s 26 year-old curator, Richard J. Powell.[1] The first survey of its kind, Impressions/Expressions...
Image features four horizontal rows of people and trains, rendered in black ink on paper
Spot the Difference: Steinberg Edition
Born in Romania in 1914, Saul Steinberg once described himself as “a writer who draws.”[1] Steinberg fled Europe in 1941, settling in New York City by 1942. While living in the United States, he traveled widely and observed the world around him in a highly whimsical style with an eye toward criticism and satire. Steinberg’s...
Image features poster with hot pink background, an upcoming musical performance is announced. The singer’s name, Taana Gardner is written in curly red letters across the top, and a black and white portrait of the young singer gazes flirtatiously out at the viewer from within the frame of a red heart, out of which a devil’s tail emerges. She is also surrounded by red hearts of various sizes. Beneath her portrait, the title of her song, “Heartbeat” is printed in a bold, black, shattered typeface. The lower half of the poster provides information on the details of the upcoming show. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Pure Coquette
Although some may claim that disco died a messy media “death” in 1979, in the early ’80s, its “Heartbeat” could still be heard reverberating on radio airwaves and in dance clubs across the United States.[1] Fame first found Taana Gardner in 1978, when she became an overnight sensation after recording the vocals for West End...
Antiquely Augmented Reality
Today’s fascination with alternate and virtual realities can sometimes feel entirely contemporary, firmly grounded in the technological innovations of the digital age. However, the desire for devices that alter our perception has a long—and dazzling—history. A “peep-show” is a visual tool that captivates viewers by creating an impression of highly illusionistic space. Utilizing a clever...