Author: Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi

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God's trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Written by James Weldon Johnson.
The Prodigal Son (of the Jazz Age)
This illustration is featured in a book of poems by James Weldon Johnson titled, God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Published in 1927, it emulates traditional African-American religious oratory. The seven sermons were inspired by memories of sermons by black preachers heard by Mr. Johnson while growing up. Johnson described the trombone as “the...
Photograph of ceiling fixture, Rockefeller Center, 1932.
Cosmic Caldwell
Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi discusses this Caldwell lighting fixture, created for Rockefeller Center in 1932.
Bright orange cover with text and illustraion
Caricature Miscellany
By Annaleigh McDonald This bright gem from the Cooper Hewitt Library’s rare book collection contains the work of George Grosz, a German artist who immigrated to the United States at age 39 in 1933, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen in 1938. Known for his scathing caricatures of post-war life in Germany, Grosz was vehemently anti-Nazi,...
book cover
1964: When the world flocked to the fair
Written by Weixin Jin Peter and Wendy see the New York World’s Fair in Pop-up Action Pictures is a children’s book by Mary Pillsbury published in 1963 by Spertus Publishing Company.  As an official 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair publication, this book extracts and highlights  key attractions at the World’s Fair in five colorful, pop-up action pictures....
firework
Fleeting Beauty
Written by Rayna Wang. Pyrotechnics, The History and Art of Firework Making, from the rare book collection at Cooper Hewitt’s design library, is illustrated with several wood-block prints of Japanese fireworks made by Hirayama Firework factory in Yokohama, Japan in the late 19th century. Fireworks were firstly developed in China, then Japanese pyrotechnics developed them...
Pessimistic Optimism
Written by Joseph McPartlin There are many ways you can look at the modern world. Do you take a pessimistic or optimistic view? John Vassos questions his view of modernity in his 1931 illustrated book, Phobia. He uses “optimistic” Art Deco forms to convey twenty-three phobias as a “pessimistic” look into the modern world. John...
George Brookshaw: A Colorful Life
By Elizabeth Caroscio This illustration by the celebrated English botanical artist George Brookshaw is from a very special rare book in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library. Bound into one book, it consists of three volumes: Groups of Flowers, Drawn and Accurately Coloured after Nature; Groups of Fruit, Accurately Drawn and Coloured after Nature; and...
book cover
Dancing with Modernism
Written by Gretchen Von Koenig Elements of Geometry by Euclid is one of the most printed books in the world, second only to the Bible. A critical subject for any branch of mathematics, Euclid’s Elements is a timeless book and certainly an ideal project for Bruce Rogers, one of the most prolific American book and...
Rarity of Color Harmony
A significant acquisition to the Cooper Hewitt Library’s special collections in 2014 was Édouard Guichard’s Die Harmonie der Farben (The Harmony of Colors). A rare and important work heavily influenced by the 1839 De la loi du contraste simulanté des Couleurs by M.E. Chevreul, this edition was published in Frankfurt Germany in 1882. Profusely illustrated...