Artist books—broadly speaking, artwork conceived and produce along the lines of a book—cover terrain so diverse that it can be difficult to make distinctions between works on paper, sculpture, book, or pure object. This is what makes the subject so appealing, both to artists and to art lovers.
Opening recently in San Francsico’s Legion of Honor is the exhibition Letter and Image: Inspired Alphabets, which continues through July 2nd. Bay Area artist Ward Schumaker, a DART subscriber, sent this in last week:
My favorite room in San Francisco's Legion of Honor is the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books. So it is a huge pleasure for me that curator Stephen Woodall has included one of my hand-painted books in his current show, Letter and Image: Inspired Alphabets. You'll find my book nestled between Léger and Le Corbusier, directly behind Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg. Other artists include Claes Oldenburg, Russel Maret and Natalia Goncharova.
About my book––Respite (Markandeya)––Woodall writes: "Through his hand-cut and painted lettering, Schumaker relates a parable without visually depicting it. The story––which came to the artist in a dream and which he sees as a variation of one in the Sanskrit textBhagavad-Gita––follows a small boy emerging from the mouth of a whale. The text over several pages reads: 'I hope you enjoyed your rest, my son,' said the whale / then it turned and re-entered the waters / the little boy smiled, waved good-bye, and turning towards the rising sun / began to sweep the beach." To see the complete book, please visit my blog
Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park | 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street), San Francisco, CA Info
This week the Baltimore Museum of Art [BMA] opened Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books, which continues through June 25th. The exhibition highlights more than 130 rarely shown artists’ books and related prints by more than 50 artists, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Grace Hartigan, David Hockney, and Ed Ruscha. Stephen King, Frank O’Hara, and Robert Creeley are among the more than 30 authors represented.
Among the works on view are Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower (1902), above, Henri Rivière’s Japanese woodcut-inspired images of the French landmark; Bestiary, or The Parade of Orpheus (1911), a book of elaborate animal woodcuts by Raoul Dufy with poems by Guillaume Apollinaire; and Ready for Anything (1958), Joan Miró’s whimsical color woodcuts with text by Paul Éluard. Two other remarkable books are 1¢ Life (1964), 61 vibrant color lithographs by Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and others that accompany poems by Walasse Ting, and The Departure of the Argonaut (1986), a gigantic bound volume with 48 color lithographs by Francesco Clemente and letterpress text by Albert Savinio.
The exhibition came about through a collaborative project between the BMA and The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) led by Rena M. Hoisington, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs. Hoisington taught the course “Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books at The Baltimore Museum of Art” through JHU’s Program in Museums and Society for 11 undergraduates from JHU, Loyola University Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. The students helped to determine the checklist and thematic organization of the exhibition as well as write the label texts and blog posts for the books. Info
Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, Maryland Info
Meanwhile in New York City, the Center for Book Arts continues its series of discussions in conjunction with the current exhibition, Pulp as Portal: Socially Engaged Hand Papermaking, with a panel on Friday, March 17, 6:30 pm.
Paper as a Social Practice, Engagement, and Intervention, The Center for Book Arts, 28 West 27th Street, NY, NY Info