Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Cover for On the Road (1952)

This falls under the category, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself."

In 1950, when Jack Kerouac released his first novel, The Town and the City, he was less than impressed by the book cover produced by his publisher, Harcourt Brace. (Click here to see why.) So, in 1952, when he began shopping his second novel, the great beat classic On the Road, Kerouac went ahead and designed his own cover. He sent it to a potential publisher A.A. Wyn, with a little note typed at the very top:

Dear Mr. Wyn:

I submit this as my idea of an appealing commercial cover expressive of the book. The cover for “The Town and the City” was as dull as the title and the photo backflap. Wilbur Pippin’s photo of me is the perfect On the Road one … it will look like the face of the figure below.

J.K.

Wyn turned down the novel, and it wouldn't get published until 1957. It would, however, become a bestseller and be published with many different covers through the years. They're all on display here.

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Note: This fine drawing appeared on our site back in 2012.

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New Digital Archive Puts Online 4,000 Historic Images of Rome: The Eternal City from the 16th to 20th Centuries

The poet Tibullus first described Rome as "The Eternal City" in the first century BC, and that evocative nickname has stuck over the thousands of years since. Or rather, he would have called it "Urbs Aeterna," which for Italian-speakers would have been "La Città Eterna," but regardless of which language you prefer it in, it throws down a daunting challenge before any historian of Rome. Each scholar has had to find their own way of approaching such a historically formidable place, and few have built up such a robust visual record as Rodolfo Lanciani, 4000 items from whose collection became available to view online this year, thanks to Stanford Libraries.

As an "archaeologist, professor of topography, and secretary of the Archaeological Commission," says the collection's about page, Lanciani, "was a pioneer in the systematic, modern study of the city of Rome."




Having lived from 1845 to 1929 with a long and fruitful career to match, he "collected a vast archive of his own notes and manuscripts, as well as works by others including rare prints and original drawings by artists and architects stretching back to the sixteenth century." After he died, his whole library found a buyer in the Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte (INASA), which made it available to researchers at the 15th-century Palazzo Venezia in Rome.

Enter a team of professors, archaeologists, and technologists from Stanford and elsewhere, who with a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and in partnership with Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism and the National Institute, began digitizing it all. Their efforts have so far yielded an exhibition of about 4,000 of Lanciani's drawings, prints, photographs and sketches of Rome from the 16th century to the 20th. Not only can you examine them in high-resolution in your browser as well as download them, you can also see the locations of what they depict pinpointed on the map of Rome. That feature might come in especially handy when next you pay a visit to The Eternal City, though for many of the features depicted in Lanciani's collection, you hardly need directions. Enter the digital collection here.

via Stanford News

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

2,000+ Architecture & Art Books You Can Read Free at the Internet Archive

Somebody once called writing about music like dancing about architecture, and the description stuck. But what's writing about architecture like? Even if you already know — especially if you already know — know that the Internet Archive makes it easy to binge on some of the finest architecture writing around and find out, and completely for free at that. The site, as Archdaily's Becky Quintal reports, has implemented a “lending feature that allows users to electronically 'borrow' books for 14 days. With over 2,000 borrowable books on architecture, patrons from across the globe can read works by Reyner Banham, Walter Gropius, Ada Louise Huxtable and Jonathan Glancey. There are also helpful guides, dictionaries and history books.”

Quintal recommends a variety of titles from Glancey's The Story of Architecture and Banham's Theory and Design in the First Machine Age to Gropius' The New Architecture and the Bauhaus and Tom Wolfe's famous jeremiad From Bauhaus to Our Our House.




Other borrowable books in the collection can take you even farther around our built world: Boston Architecture, French Architecture, Japanese Architecture, Moorish Architecture in Andalusia, The Art and Architecture of China, The Art and Architecture of Medieval Russia. As you can see, and as in a “real” library or bookstore, writing about architecture at some point transitions into writing about art, quite a few volumes of which — on art history, art technique, and even museum work — the Internet Archive also lets you check out.

But before you get your two weeks with any of these books from the Internet Archive's virtual library, you'll need your virtual library card. To get it, visit Archive.org's account creation page and come up with a screen name and password. As soon as you've agreed to the site's terms and conditions, you've got a card. If you'd like to read these books on devices other than your computer, you'll need to download Adobe's free Digital Editions software. Out digital century has made binging on all kinds of reading material incomparably easier than before, but just like brick-and-mortar libraries, the Internet Archive has only so many “copies” to lend out, so be warned that if you want an especially popular book, you may have to get on a waitlist first. Me, I'm hoping Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles will come in any day now, but the art or architecture book you most want to read may just be waiting for you to check it out. Scan the collection here.

via Archdaily

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Alan Turing Algorithmically Approximated by Ellipses: A Computer Art Project

Just a cool find on Twitter, a work of computer art created by Jeremy Kun, a math PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and now an engineer at Google.

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via BoingBoing

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Ralph Steadman’s Hellish Illustrations for Ray Bradbury’s Classic Dystopian Novel, Fahrenheit 451

Hunter S. Thompson and Ray Bradbury would at first seem to have little in common, other than having made their livings by the pen. Or rather, both of them having developed as writers in the mid-20th century, by the typewriter--though Thompson famously shot his and a young Bradbury once had to rent one for ten cents per hour at UCLA's library. In one nine-day rental in the early 1950s, Bradbury typed up Fahrenheit 451, still his best-known work and one whose central idea, that of a future society that methodically destroys all books, has stayed compelling almost 65 years after its first publication.

Thompson's best-known work, 1971's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, deals in different kinds of frightening visions, some of them brought to illustrated life by the English artist Ralph Steadman. Thirty years later years later and with his name long since made by his collaboration with Thompson, Steadman would bring his talents to Bradbury's dystopia. Brain Pickings' Maria Popova quotes him describing the theme of Fahrenheit 451 as "vitally important." According to Dangerous Minds' Paul Gallagher, when Bradbury saw Steadman's illustrations, commissioned for a limited edition of the book around its fiftieth anniversary, he said to the artist, "You’ve brought my book into the 21st century."

Steadman repaid the compliment when he said that he considers Fahrenheit 451 "as important as 1984 and Animal Farm as real powerful social comment," and he should know, having previously poured his artistic energies into a 1995 edition of George Orwell's deceptively simple allegory of the Russian Revolution and its consequences. More than a few of us would no doubt love to see what Steadman could do with 1984 here in the 21st century, a time when we've hardly extinguished the societal dangers of which Orwell, or Bradbury, or indeed Thompson, tried, each in his distinctive literary way, to warn us. Book-burning may remain a fringe pursuit, but the fight against thought control in its infinite forms demands constant vigilance — and no small amount of imagination.

You can see more illustrations of Fahrenheit 451 at Brain Pickings and Dangerous Minds. Also, you can purchase used copies of the limited print edition online, though they seem quite rare at this point. Editions can be found on AbeBooks--for example here and here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

An Oral History of the Bauhaus: Hear Rare Interviews (in English) with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & More

Image by Detief Mewes, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bauhaus, which operated as an influential school in Germany between 1919 and 1933 but lives on as a kind of aesthetic ideal, has its strongest associations with highly visual work, like textiles, graphic design, industrial design, and especially architecture. But a good deal of thought went into establishing the kind of rationality- and functionality-oriented philosophical basis that would produce all that visual work, and you can hear some of the leading lights of the Bauhaus discuss it, in English, on the record Bauhaus Reviewed: 1919 to 1933, now available on Spotify. (If you don't have Spotify's software, you can download it here.) You can also purchase your own copy online.




"The bulk of the narrative is by [Walter] Gropius, an articulate and passionate advocate for this remarkable experiment in education," writes All Music Guide's Stephen Eddins. "Artist Josef Albers and architect [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe also contribute commentary. [LTM Records founder] James Nice is credited with 'curating' the CD, and it must be his editing that gives the album such a clear and informative narrative structure — one comes away with a vivid understanding of the development of the movement, both philosophically and pragmatically."

In between the spoken passages on the origins of the Bauhaus, form and totality, handling and texture, utopianism, and other topics besides, Bauhaus Reviewed 1919-1933 offers musical compositions by such Bauhaus-associated composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Josef Matthias Hauer, and George Antheil. You can hear some of the sound from the record repurposed in Architecture as Language, the short about Mies by Swiss filmmaker Alexandre Favre just below. In it that pioneer of modernism discusses the Bauhaus as well as his own individual work, all of it interesting to anyone with an inclination toward midcentury European-American architecture and design, none of it ultimately more relevant than the final words the master speaks: "I don't want to be interesting. I want to be good."

via Monoskop

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Download New Storyboarding Software That’s Free & Open Source

Quick tip: The new software package, Storyboarder, makes it "easy to visualize a story as fast you can draw stick figures." You can create a story idea without actually making a full-blown movie and see how it looks. Storyboarder is free. It's open source. It's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. And you can download it here.

As the website Cartoon Brew notes, the stories created in Storyboarder "can be exported to Premiere, Final Cut, Avid, PDF, and animated GIF formats." Or you can "refine the artwork in Photoshop."

Get Storyboarder here.

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via Cartoon Brew

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