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This is a podcast about books. Everything you can imagine, about books. Combine this with the human desire to know (Aristotle) the joy found in good conversation (Montaigne) and a wish to share the results, and you have a good idea of why I host and produce The Biblio File.

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Sep 7, 2010


W. McAllister (Mac) Johnson is a retired professor of art history at the University of Toronto. Some years ago he donated his collection of close to 1000 scholarly, art historical titles to the Carleton University Library in Ottawa.  The collection is unusual in that it was assembled not by titles, but by categories of art-historical scholarship, including works on provenance and association; technical and theoretical works; museum, exhibition, and auction catalogues; translations and re-editions; connoisseurship (attribution) and criticism; reference works and ephemera. Together the books offer insights into the intellectual, institutional, social, and commercial activity of the art world in France and other European countries in the period spanning the Renaissance to the 20th century.

Johnson, an American-born art historian of international repute,  taught at the University of Toronto, where he trained two generations of Canadian scholars and curators, as a professor of Art History. The library he has donated to Carleton University represents the material evidence of his scholarly activities over the past four decades.

We met to talk about some of the practical approaches, philosophies and joys of collecting.