Synopses & Reviews
Skulls, butterflies, hunting trophies, ancient Egyptian artifacts, the alleged skeletons of mythological creatures, and many other mysterious oddities fill cabinets of wonder. A centuries-old tradition developed in Europe during the Renaissance, cabinets of wonder (also known as curiosity cabinets) are once again in fashion. Shops, restaurants, and private residences echo these cabinets in their interior design, by making use of the eclectic vintage objects commonly featured in such collections. Cabinets of Wonder showcases exceptional collections in homes and museums, with more than 180 photographs, while also explaining the history behind the tradition, the best-known collections, and the types of objects typically displayed. Offering both a historical overview and a look into contemporary interior design, this extravagantly illustrated book celebrates the wonderfully odd world of cabinets of wonder.
"In this highly accessible book, UniversitÃ© of Bordeaux IV lecturer Davenne traces the evolution of the 'Cabinet of Curiosity' from the 16th century to today. The use of the word 'cabinet' is perhaps disingenuous as it includes everything from paintings within paintings to entire houses, but the motivation behind concept, whether rooted in an aristocratic desire to showcase one's lineage or in scientific exploration, results in the ability to examine an array of items which together create their own significance. While this manner of arrangement is less stimulating when seen at a Pottery Barn showroom or on the walls of Bennigan's, in Fleurent's absorbing photographs of skeletons, religious icons, insects, early scientific equipment, books, paintings, and more (all carefully displayed together), a feeling of exploration and a desire to make sense of a prescientific world emerges. Sections on contemporary attempts to duplicate the technique are less noteworthy as they seem stylized rather than organic, and it is interesting to note the author's own ambivalence toward calling any of it art. The chapter dedicated to the exotic and the monstrous is especially mesmerizing. Art directed with flair and a clear affection for the subject matter, the overall package is intriguingly weird in the best possible way. Photos." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Christine Davenne is a lecturer in fine arts at the IUFM dAquitaine and is the author of the book Modernité du cabinet de curiosités. Christine Fleurent photographs regularly for womens magazines and advertising and has contributed to numerous books, including La Cuisine des parfums and La Maison de Chocolat.