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Suave Mechanicals

 

continued

Other exhibit jewels include a dainty 1857 book whose cover shows a pert young woman and the title The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth ("by the author of It Is Never Too Late to Mend"). There's a proto-Art Nouveau masterpiece of swirly ribbonlike flowers against a background of tiny gold bubbles, and a case showing modern art binding techniques. There's also the free, superinformative sixty-four-page exhibit catalog itself, bound with a couple of staples.

The exhibit title is Miller's riff on Shakespeare's characterization of the amateur actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream as "rude mechanicals." It sums up her view of these books as information machines with moving parts that are also objects of sophisticated beauty — that are "suave — like Cary Grant . . . with a little age, a little patina, a real character of beauty."

Suave Mechanicals continues through July 26.    (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2003.]

 

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