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INVENTORY OF THE NEKES COLLECTION OF OPTICAL DEVICES, PRINTS, AND GAMES, 1700-1996, bulk 1740-1920
93.R.118  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical / Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nekes collection of optical devices, prints, and games
    Dates: 1700-1996
    Dates: 1740-1920
    Collection number: 93.R.118
    Collector: Nekes, Werner
    Extent: 45 linear feet (75 boxes, 1 flat file folder)
    Repository: Getty Research Institute
    Research Libary
    Special Collections and Visual Resources
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
    Abstract: German filmmaker. The collection charts the nature of visual perception in modern European culture at a time when pre-cinema objects evolved from instruments of natural magic to devices for entertainment. Most of the items date from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century.
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    Language: Collection material is in French, German and English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Nekes collection of optical devices, prints, and games, 1700-1996, bulk 1740-1920, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 93.R.118

    Acquisition Information

    This collection, acquired in 1993, is a portion of the larger collection of optical devices, prints and games assembled by the German experimental filmmaker Werner Nekes.

    Processing History

    The collection was initially rehoused by Hillary Brown. In 1995-1997 it was processed and cataloged by Isotta Poggi. The collection was re-boxed by Alan Tomlinson in April 1999. The finding aid was edited by Jocelyn Gibbs in 1998-99. A large portion of the collection was included in the exhibition Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen, 2000 at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

    Biographical / Historical Note

    Already a collector in his early childhood, Werner Nekes turned his interest to film and cinema history when he reached his twenties. While he was a student of linguistic philology and psychology in Freiburg and Bonn in the mid-1960s he worked on his first film. Between 1969 and 1972 he taught at the Academy of Visual Arts in Hamburg.
    While doing research for an article on thaumatropes, he began to collect devices, prints, and books related to pre-cinema technologies and entertainment. Ten years later, when he finally found an original set of thaumatropes in Cologne, he had assembled a broad range of material concerning anamorphosis, panoramas, camera obscuras, peepshows, metamorphosis, shadowgraphy, and optical illusions along with a supporting library.
    In the early 1980s he taught first as visiting professor at Wuppertal and later at the Academy of Art and Design in Offenbach. Some years later he worked as a consultant for the pre-cinema galleries of the Deutsches Film Museum in Frankfurt and co-founded the North Rhine-Westfalia film office, as well as the International Center for New Cinema in Riga.
    In this period he also designed and installed a room-sized walk-through camera obscura in a former Wasserturm, which had been turned into a museum in Mülheim a. d. Ruhr. In 1992, in the same museum, he exhibited his pre-cinema collection in the exhibition Von der Camera Obscura zum Film. In 1993 he organized the exhibition Schattenprojektionen and directed the Internationales Schatten-theaterfestival in Oberhausen.
    Since 1965 Nekes has directed more than 70 films (see his filmography in Appendix 1) including a series of documentaries that demonstrate how early optical devices, prints, and other objects contributed to the development of popular entertainment as well as to the evolution of cinema technologies. In these documentaries (available in the Getty Research Library on videotape) he used the material from his own collection, a portion of which was acquired by the Getty Research Institute in 1993.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Nekes collection of optical devices, prints, and games charts the nature of visual perception in modern West European culture and the rise of popular artifacts which used movement and tricks of visual perception to amuse and astonish. The items date from circa 1700 to the early 20th century, with the bulk dating from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. The collection contains rare items such as a French camera obscura, circa 1750, as well as popular images, such as 19th-century magic lantern slides, paper silhouettes and greeting cards with moving parts. Other items include an 18th-century peepshow, peepshow prints, over 100 megalographs, a camera lucida, a Lorrain mirror, a zograscope, anamorphosis watercolors accompanied by a cone viewer, and circa 20 collapsible Engelbrecht perspective theatres.

    Arrangement

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Animation (Cinematography)--Instruments.
    Drawing instruments
    Optical instruments
    Popular culture--Europe

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Advertising cards--1800-1900
    Amusements
    Anamorphoses
    Camera lucidas
    Camera obscuras
    Card games--1700-1900
    Cast shadows
    Educational games
    Educational toys
    Engravings--Europe--18th century
    Engravings--Europe--19th century
    Flip books
    Games
    Lantern slides
    Magic lanterns
    Miniature theaters
    Montages--1700-1900
    Optical toys--1700-1900
    Optical illusions
    Peepshows
    Phenakistoscopes
    Physionotrace works
    Prints--Europe--18th century
    Prints--Europe--19th century
    Thaumatropes
    Stereoscopic photographs
    Stereoscopes--1700-1900
    Toys
    Vues d'optique

    Contributors

    Boilly, Louis, 1761-1845
    Campe, Friedrich, 1777-1846
    Hogarth, William, 1697-1764
    Shénan, J. E.
    Spooner, William
    Imagerie Pellerin (Epinal, France)
    L. Saussine (Firm)
    Riley Brothers, Ltd.
    S. W. Fores (Firm)
    Liebig's Extract of Meat Company

    Titles

    Optical devices collection (Getty Research Institute) Prints collection (Getty Research Institute)