The Century of Artists' Books - Johanna Drucker. A study of the development of artists' books as a twentieth-century artform, giving an historical overview from Russian Futurism to today. Topics include the discussion of the poetics of the book, the book as a metaphor, the conceptual space of the book, and books as narrative and non-narrative sequences. Over 200 illus. $35. Available from Granary Books, 568 Broadway, Suite 403, New York NY 10012.
Four miniature books from The Old Stile Press (April 1995) - by Julian Schwarz: 1. Eight Nudes on One Plank; 2. Eight Famous Crows from Ancient Rome; 3. Eight Cycling Sibyls; and by Nicolas McDowell: A Bodoni Charade. Limited to 240 signed copies, 54mm x 57mm, £25 each, or £66 for the three Schwarz, or £80 for all four. Plus p&p. Available from The Old Stile Press, Cathmays Court, Landogo, Nr. Monmouth, Gwent NP5 4TN, U.K. Tel. & fax; 01291 689 226.
Voyage of the Soul, The Petrarch Press, 66 pp., 6" x 10", edition of 150. Expected date of publication: February 15, 1996. "The text, taken from the dialogues of Plato, is a collection of five mythic tales which illuminate the soul's trials on its evolution through a great, mystical cosmos." 25 copies printed on Hayle paper, 1/4 leather bound with slipcase, $465; 110 copies on Johannot paper, clothbound, $195; remainder printed on vellum, full leather, gold decorated binding with slipcase, $875. S&h $4 per copy. CA residents add tax. Available from The Petrarch Press, P.O. Box 488, Oregon House CA 95962, 916-692-0828.
The Tarantella Rose: Six Poems by William Everson, Santa Cruz, Peter & Donna Thomas, 35 pp., 10 5/8" x 7 5/8", 8 linoleum cut illus. by Donna Thomas. These poems were written by Everson in 1972-74 for his uncompleted manuscript "Eros and Thanatos" but were never published. Copies 1 - 75 bound by Donna Thomas in limp vellum, $395; Copies lettered A - G hand-colored by Donna Thomas, 1/4 leather binding, $865. All copies ordered direct will be housed in custom boxes. Available from Peter & Donna Thomas, 260 15th Avenue, Santa Cruz CA 95062, 408-475-7786.
In the Attic by Elizabeth Fulton. "A Psychological Exploration, A Fine-Arts Book of Drawings and Poems". Edition of 950. 900 clothbound copies, autographed by the author, $59.95; 50 copies bound and slipcased by Don Rash, signed by Rash and the author, $225. Available from The Frog Prince Press, 1250 Jackson Road, Shavertown PA 18708, 717-675-8710.
Printers and Men of Capital: Philadelphia Book Publishers in the New Republic by Rosalind Remer. University of Pennsylvania Press, June 1996, 224 pp, 6 illus, cloth, ISBN 0-8122-3337-9, $34.95. U of P Press, P.O. Box 4836, Hampden Station, Baltimore MD 21211, Tel: 800-445-9880; fax: 410-516-6990. The focus of the book is a group of late eighteenth-century printers who came of age during the Revolution. Remer teaches history at Moravian College.
From Memory Press, Maria G. Pisano (MGP Studio Arts, P.O. Box 752,
Plainsboro NJ 08536: Entangled by Maria G. Pisano. Artist's
book based on a poem by the artist. "The images evolve from intricate
organic forms to visions of unknown patterns... Incorporated within
are free-form cut pages creating a multiplicity of layers and
entrapment." Edition of 150, accordion pages in a case binding.
Modus Vivendi, written, designed, printed and bound by Maria G. Pisano. Photos shot by the author in Italy, scanned and manipulated on a Quadra 660av. The images were made into polymer plates and letterpress printed on Rives BFK. Cover pulled on an etching press with paste paper decorated interior. Edition of 20. The book format is concentric, each page folding inward continuously onto the next page, $1000.
The Tregaskis Centenary Collection. The Tregaskis Committee of Designer Bookbinders expects to have the catalog in publication by March 1996. Price: £38 plus £3 airmail overseas. Checks to The Tregaskis Centenary Collection, Mastercard/Visa/Delta credit cards. For order forms, or to order, write to: Lester Bath, 3 Lún Groes, Llanllechid, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 3EU, Wales, UK.
Gaylord Preservation Pathfinder, No. 4: An Introduction to Book Repair, by Nancy Carlson Schrock, 1995. Gaylord Bros., Box 4901, Syracuse NY 13221-4901 (800-448-6160). Abbey Newsletter says: "This, like other 'Pathfinders' in the series, is clear, accurate and oriented to conservation. It is too short to present specific procedures for book repair, but it does give the basics... Books and tools that are available from Gaylord are identified, but there is a professional rather than a commercial flavor to this booklet."
Beyond Words: The Marriage of Art and Literature in Bookmaking: A Video by Anita Saewitz. A new documentary about contemporary fine art bookmaking. It looks at books published by Vincent FitzGerald and Company. Interviews with writers, artists, papermakers, printers and curators offer insight into this creative process. $100 plus $5 s&h, from Anita J. Saewitz, 225 West 21st St., New York NY 10011; 212-627-0561.
Special Subscription Rates for Art & Metiers du Livre for L'ARA members (all GBW members are automatically members of l'ARA-USA). The international revue of bookbinding, printmaking and general bibliophilic interest serves a wide and diverse reading populace. In French, with excellent color photographs, and occasional English resumes of principal articles.
Beginning in January 1996, Art & Metiers du Livre will include "technical pages" on specific areas of bookbinding and book restoration. Six issues a year are accompanied by a newsletter format, with current events coverage on major conferences, exhibitions and events worldwide.
Special rates: Overseas rate: 500 French francs (instead of 580 ff). In France: 380 French francs (instead of 440 ff).
Send name and address with payment (bank draft in French francs) to: Editions Filigtanes, 55 bis rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris, France.
Yearly subscriptions are also available through The Bookbinder's Warehouse for $104.00.
Paul Goldman. Victorian Illustrated Books 1850-1870. David R. Godine, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston ma 02115. 1994. 144pp. $35.00. isbn 1-56792-014-4.
Reviewed by Madelyn Garrett, Marriott Library, University of Utah.
In 1992, Robin de Beaumont gave the British Museum a collection of 1860s illustrated books that is considered the finest of its kind in the world. Victorian Illustrated Books 1850-1870, published to provide a record of this significant acquisition, offers an opportunity to reexamine the history of the book during a revolutionary period of its development in Britain.
In the crucial years of the 1860s, the publication of popular literature increased dramatically. The economic, social, educational, and technical reasons for this increase are examined in Victorian Illustrated Books. An upsurge in literacy amongst the middle and lower classes, fostered by the British government and the established churches, created a new and profitable market for publishers. At the same time, some of the more onerous import/export restrictions affecting book production were removed. The favorable situation was further enhanced as new and inexpensive substitutes for rag paper became available. British publishers were quick to take advantage of lucrative business opportunities.
New printing technologies to support this production boom were also efficiently utilized. The wholesale replacement of the handpress by powerful platen and cylinder presses greatly increased the number of impressions that could be produced during a printing run. Wood engraving was not new, but new methods to reproduce blocks were developed. The discovery of electrotyping led to basic and far-reaching changes in printing procedure. Refine-ments in photography allowed the mechanical transfer of artists' images to woodblocks, ready for the publishing houses to cut. And the completion of Britain's railway system and improvements in its postal system led to the organization of a more efficient distribution system.
Thus, social, economic, and technological ad-vances combined in the 1860s to create a publishing phenomenon that dramatically changed the course of book publishing. Victorian Illustrated Books examines the publishers, editors, engravers, and entrepreneurs who were part of this revolution in printing history. The book places the remarkable innovations that occurred in book illustration during this time into a social and economic context that sets the stage for an examination of the artists who illustrated the thousands of books and periodicals published during the 1860s.
Traditional art historical interpretations have tended to discuss the illustration of the 1860s almost exclusively in terms of artistic merit, with little or no reference to the texts they were created to complement. Victorian Illustrated Books provides a new and more comprehensive analysis of this illustrative art.
The Pre-Raphaelite involvement in 1860s illustration was significant. The contributions of Rosetti, Burne-Jones, Hunt, Millais, and Brown led to stylistic developments that had far-reaching influence. Additionally, these artists brought to their illustrative work a new intellectual force. They were literary artists, committed to the idea that illustration must unite text and image in order to realize completely the narrative intent. Telling the story was an essential part of the Pre-Raphaelite credo, and illustration, therefore, occupied a central position in both their paintings and in their commission work.
However, it is inaccurate to say that the innovative illustration of the 1860s was created solely by the Pre-Raphaelites. Victorian Illustrated Books examines many of the less-well-known illustrators who employ-ed several distinct styles during this period. It was the aggregate work of all of these artists that made the phenomenon of 1860s illustration so important.
Victorian Illustrated Books ends, rather abruptly, with a final chapter which reviews the history of criticism of the period. No conclusions are drawn, leaving readers to their own summation. Several fine Victorian bindings are illustrated in color, and many wood engavings are reproduced. These illustrations are delightful and help to clarify the the author's arguments. However, the images seldom appear on the same page as the text they illustrate, and it requires a good deal of flipping back and forth to follow the discussion. This becomes annoying. None-theless, a substantial bibliography, index, and checklist of the British Museum donation should be of value to students of the period.
Horne, Alan and Guy Upjohn. Fine Printing: The Private Press In Canada. The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, 35 McCaul St, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1T7. 1995. 64pp. $15. ISBN 0-7727-6015-2.
Reviewed by Robert Goff, The Outlaw Press.
Fine Printing: The Private Press In Canada is the catalog of a traveling exhibition by that name sponsored by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild and The Friends of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The exhibition covers some 60 years of pre- and post-war printing in Canada, and runs from April, 1995 to October, 1997.
The catalog is printed on ivory laid paper bound in sewn sections of four sheets with a matching brown speckled paper cover glued on. It includes 19 fine-screened photographs and four color plates of the works on exhibition. The text is in black with teal accents in a few initial caps and headings.
Upjohn writes a three-page introduction in which he describes the purpose and selection criteria for the exhibition. Work from the "commercial book industry" and "artists' books" were not included, although Upjohn himself acknowledges an ill-defined boundary. He says that they tried to find examples from outside British Columbia and Ontario, but few were available. Indeed, of 46 presses represented, two are in Alberta, three in Quebec, and one in Manitoba; the rest are in British Columbia or Ontario. He briefly describes the background of printing in Canada, beginning with the "sorry state" of the Canadian book industry in the 1930s and mentioning Kemp Waldie's Golden Dog Press, which attempted to reverse the trend. He attributes the post-war turnaround to European immigrants "from a tradition which emphasized technical training and expected good design in print", and mentions some of the important houses, professional associations, and exhibitions of the 1950s through 1970s. He also mentions the revolution brought about by computer typesetting and layout and hopes that the exhibition will stimulate fine printing "by whatever technology craftsmen find sympathetic."
Will Reuter of the Aliquando Press in Toronto writes a meandering two-page essay which is a series of questions asking whether the advances in lithographic and computer technology and the decline of letterpress is detrimental to the production of "fine printing." He offers no answers except that "we need constantly to expand the boundaries of our awareness of printing." If he means that we should always be aware of the advances in technology and the uses that our fellows are putting it to, I would have to heartily agree. It does little, however, to define "fine printing," nor does it help us decide whether the definition is inherently dependent on letterpress.
The remainder of the catalog is devoted to the presses and their representatives in the exhibition. Each press has a one- or two-paragraph description of when and how it was founded, a statement of the proprietor's philosophy of printing, and sometimes a short bit of the press's history. Some are written by the proprietors and for presses no longer operating, some are taken from trade or professional publications. Below the press and its description are descriptions of the paper, font, and binding of representative titles.
The short descriptions and few illustrations can do little more than whet the reader's appetite for the exhibits, which is, after all, the purpose of a catalog. The technical descriptions of the exhibits do offer a look at the range of materials and techniques available to the printer. More importantly, many of the descriptions of the presses themselves offer insight into the kinds of people that take up this art and inspiration for anyone who aspires to it.
Created Space: An Exhibition by the Members of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, 1995.
Reviewed by Claire Owen, Delaware Valley Chapter Chairman, printer, binder, book artist.
This exhibition was held at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, November 13 through December 12, 1995. It opened in the John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence RI in April, then traveled to Syracuse University Library, Syracuse NY, before ending in Philadelphia.
Stephen Bloom, Director of the UA Libraries, at the Albert M. Greenfield Library where the exhibit was held, is to be thanked for hosting the exhibit, and for the handsome installation. Mary Phelan, Head of the Master of Book Arts Program at the University, was also closely involved and wonderfully helpful with the organization of the show.
The exhibit confirms the New England area as one in which the book arts are being pursued in a lively and diverse range, aesthetically, as well as a craft. There were twenty-four members of the Guild exhibiting work which includes examples of letterpress printing, paper marbling, fine bindings, limited edition artist books, unique artist books, fine press work and calligraphy.
Those using the book form as a unique visual object/artifact were Nancy Leavitt, Melissa McCarthy, Rebekah Lord Gardiner, Valerie and Michele Wyckoff, and Gloria Helfgott.
There were three limited edition titles from the Quercus Press by John Carrera, which combined fine art printmaking with letterpress. One of the titles, "Putrefatti", was a collaboration of Carrera and Sam Walker. Another collaborative work was "Town", a limited edition fine press book bound by Linda Lemke. The piece is the work of Brian Cohen's Bridge Press, and is one of several titles Linda has bound for Cohen. A piece by Marilyn Hatch is, in fact, the first edition of Annis Press, the teaching press of the Wellesley College Library. The title, a Keepsake for the Alumnae Association, is bound in a format designed by Hedi Kyle.
The letterpress work of Carol Blinn's Warwick Press was seen in a title using a poem of John Updike, which she developed from a commercial project.
Barbara Cash exhibited a broadside from her Ives Street Press, which was printed letterpress in nine colors. The art of letter form was also represented by the calligraphic work of Julie Stackpole and Nancy Culmone. John Benson's work in paper marbling included motifs inspired by 18th c. Turkish & 19th c. Spanish papers.
Fine, designer bindings were shown by John Benson, Dorothy Africa, Julie Stackpole, Kathleen Markees, Julie Hille, James Reid-Cunningham, Peter Verheyen and Katherine Beattie. Amy Lapidow called her piece a model, a study in bookbinding techniques, including edge decoration, headcaps and leather decoration. Joe Newman, present President of the New England Chapter, had three Period Reproduction Bindings in the exhibit.
There is a handsome catalog accompanying the exhibit, with logo designed by Melissa McCarthy. This was a satisfying and inspiring look at the variety of creative work being done by the bookworkers of the New England Chapter.
N.B. Copies of the catalog may be available. Contact Luisa Granitto, Chapter Secretary, 617-275-5265, for information.
Pages of Perfection, Islamic Paintings and Calligraphy from the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg.
Reviewed by Frances Manola
I saw this exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art about a week before it closed. The show originated last January at the Musee du Petit Palais, Paris, and traveled from there to the Villa Favorita, Lugano, throughout the summer. It was finally shown at the Metropolitan from September 15 through December 10. It was organized by the ARCH Foundation. A fine catalog accompanied the exhibition, with at least one page from each of the sixty-seven masterpieces exhibited illustrated in color, as well as several pages of some of the more elaborately decorated manuscripts. They are preceded by commentaries by experts from the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences and the Metropolitan Museum. The books included range from the 8th century to about mid-19th century. The interesting bindings, as well as the pages, have been carefully described. The book covers are unusual in that they have a flap that folds over the fore-edge. Many are illustrated in the catalog.
As I looked at the exhibition, I couldn't help but think of Donald Jackson's article in AbraCadaBra (see calligraphy news, this issue) and what good source material was contained in this exhibition for people making manuscript books or artists' books. The pages are very colorful and most of them, even those in Arabic writing alone, contain gold. There was not too much burnished gold, but mainly flat gilding. I haven't yet read the catalog completely; it is very large, and I am not sure whether or not their gilding processes are explained. Although the book has a Glossary and a Bibliography, it does not have an Index. Some of the pages in these manuscripts are so sumptuous that they are decorated from page edge to page edge - the margins themselves are decorated, sometimes with a gold sprinkling, other times with gold in patterns and designs. The Arabic and Persian scripts blend beautifully with their decoration. I liked particularly The Book of Herbs, in design not too unlike other Herbals I have seen. Some of the miniatures are packed with crowds of colorful people, and remind me of the work of the Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel with his happy gatherings of people. There are many animals and birds decorating these pages, and especially elegant horses. The catalog is still available at the book store at the Metropolitan Museum. I think it would be a valuable addition to the library of calligraphers and binders.
We do not have a price for this catalog. Contact the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 255 Gracie Station, New York NY 10028-9998.
The GBW Newsletter reviews books, reports, new periodicals, booksellers' and auction catalogs and electronic products that pertain directly and indirectly to the book arts: papermaking, calligraphy, typographic design, printing book illustration, bookbinding, marbled and decorative papers, book conservation, etc. Reviews focus on issues of interest to active artisans and craftspeople. Interested parties are asked to send appropriate publications for review or notices to the book review editor.
Books received which are not strictly within the scope chosen for the Book Review section, but which might nevertheless be of interst to readers of the Newsletter are noted as books received.
Books or publication announcements should be sent to the Book Review Editor: Sidney F. Huttner, The Library of Tulsa Library, 2933 East 6th St., Tulsa OK 74104-3189; (918) 631-3133; fax (918) 631-3791; internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Book Review Editor welcomes notice from GBW members of their willingness to review and their areas of interest or knowledge.