Special Collections
Rare Books and Prints


Current Exhibition

Interconnections, books, text art

The book’s primacy in the dissemination of information has been challenged by the growth of digital communication. Information and text now exist in a variety of simultaneous physical and digital forms, as digital technology facilitates the independence of text and format.
What then of objects whose content is inseparably embedded within their physical formats? This exhibition explores books as objects whose physical form, text, design and aesthetics are essential components of an integrated whole. It may be argued that books have always represented more than simply the information or text printed or written in them. They can stand as powerful symbols of the value of knowledge and learning, as well as being artistic expressions in themselves. Whilst texts can be presented in other forms, the physical act of writing or printing by hand using fine materials creates objects that offer information and meanings beyond that of their content.

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Curated by Ashley Sutherland

Ground floor Baillieu Library

September 30 - November 11 2014


Radicals, slayers and villains
A travelling exhibition

Achilles Dragging Hector's Corpse Around the Walls of Troy

Pietro Testa, Achilles Dragging Hector's Corpse Around the Walls of Troy, (1645-50),
plate: 26.3 x 41.6, sheet: 27.5 x 42.0 cm, etching, reg. no. 1986.2001,
purchased 1986, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.

The exhibition Radicals, slayers and villains will be a major attraction at the University’s biennial Cultural Treasures Festival in July 2014. The exhibition will then travel to venues in regional Victoria.

Radicals, slayers and villains shows controversial figures from history that have challenged the status-quo and helped shape our world. The striking imagery of these works is captured by seminal artists including Dürer, Goya and Rembrandt. The artists in the exhibition have been instrumental in the development of Western art and the universal theme of the individual and his or her role in society is illustrated through these extraordinarily powerful works. The exhibition has wide appeal through its representation of themes, such as the place and role of the individual in society, the depiction of the human figure, the impact of violence, and death. The often violent imagery depicted in the ‘slayers’ component of the exhibition presented great appeal to artists working from the Renaissance onwards, and inherent in these images is their capacity to shock and inspire awe in contemporary audiences with their lethal armoury of brutal and savage capabilities. The depiction of the human figure is equally arresting in the group of works categorised as ‘villains’, which shows supernatural skeletons bringing death, hybrid fiends, demons, criminals and evil animals all conspiring to throw our existence into turmoil.

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Past Exhibitions

Online Exhibitions

Tea: The Global Infusion

Romance or Pulp Fiction? It's Your Choice

The Facsimile and the Manuscript

Art Bound: A Selection of Artists' Books

Sensational Tales: Australian Popular Publishing 1850s-1990s

To all the Little Masters and to all the Little Misses: The Morgan Collection of Children's Books

Aubrey Beardsley - A Tribute

FabricAsian - Celebrating an aspect of material culture for which Asian societies have long been renowned

Libri: six centuries of Italian books from the Baillieu Library’s Special Collections


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