Great books foster, transmit, and preserve forever knowledge. The books in my research library were always meant to be used: read, skimmed, read aloud, exhibited, photographed, shared, treasured. And thus my library, which I thought of as The Museum of Cognitive Art, participated intensely in my research, scholarship, writing, teaching, design. For 30 years, the everyday presence of these wonderful books in my life was inspiring and challenging.
I sought to write, design, and publish books worthy of my research library: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983, 2001), Envisioning Information (1990), Visual Explanations (1997), and Beautiful Evidence (2006).
The collection articulated my interests and needs in making my books abut analytical thinking, seeing, showing: high science (Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Lambert), high art (Dürer, Dufy, Picasso, Ernst, Derain, Albers), practical science (history of perspective, dance notation, magic, aviation, and landscape architecture especially Repton), the history of statistical graphics (nearly all of William Playfair’s books, Marey, Minard), epidemiology (Graunt, John Snow), mapping (Halley, Minard), illustrated books (fish, birds, and whatever), and the classics of book design (Hypnerotomachia, Byrnes’ color Euclid, Eric Gill, Bruce Rogers, John Henry Nash, and books published by Giovanni Mardersteig’s Officina Bodoni press). Their time past became my time present and time future.
This diverse and quirky collection found a certain unity in my own books. The relation between my work and the research library is described in several catalog entries.
With this auction, my research library will turn into open-space land (in perpetuity) for making and exhibiting my landscape sculpture and into a museum and gallery, ET Modern, in New York’s Chelsea art district.
Of course, there’s another book (Seeing Around, 2013?) underway as well. There always is.