The list before you takes as its inspiration Colin Franklin’s observation that “(I)n its long history even the most rational critic will agree that vellum well used has inspired extraordinary enthusiasm.” That this statement appears in our very own Mystique of Vellum certainly deepens the appeal as a guiding principle. Herein you will find books that explore the subject of printing on vellum in depth; exemplars of vellum printing, from Essex House Press's elegant panorama of English monarchic history in their Masque of the Edwards of England, to Melchior Lechter’s mystical meditation on sacred symbolism in Das Maerchen vom Sinn; and books bound in vellum—a material in which “(F)lexibility and strength were skillfully balanced,” as Ana Paula Cordeiro noted in her brief introduction to Lightweight, a celebration of the enduring binding material. In this list, you will find it both limp and stretched over boards, painted, calligraphed, and tooled in gold and palladium—the ideal blank canvas.
In the mid-20th century, the advancement and proliferation of new technologies democratized the art of the book, and of printmaking in general, to such a degree that, as many artists adopted innovative processes of Xerox, risograph, and silkscreen, so too did many rediscover letterpress. Print was chic, print was groovy, print spread the word of protest and opposed the systems and strictures of its traditional predecessors. Alongside the overt political statements of poster-makers and underground newsletter printers were the aesthetic forces of conceptual and serial artists, and it was a natural result that the birth and growth of artists’ books and private press publications boomed with the help of Kim Merker, Walter Hamady, Morris Cox, and so many others.
In the present e-catalogue, we celebrate this crucial moment in print history. We hope this list inspires you with the power of print, whether for its nostalgia or its invention, its relevance or its history.
This e-catalogue shines a spotlight on fine printing from our neighbors to the north. We have, of course, long admired the excellent work of Rollin Milroy, whose Heavenly Monkey and HM Editions are quite well represented here. Other Canadian presses represented in this e-catalogue include a few exemplars from Crispin and Jan Elsted’s Barbarian Press, including a seldom-seen title they printed for Muddy Foot Press in Vancouver, as well as two early books from the Locks’ Press—so early, in fact, that Fred and Margaret Lock had not yet departed Brisbane for the Great White North.
In the introduction to our last Eric Gill list three years ago, we quoted Fiona MacCarthy, who said of Gill’s artistic legacy that “his immediacy lingers.” Three years later, we find ourselves again in a position to consider his bountiful contribution to the evolution of the book arts. Occasioned by the acquisition of a cache of original art—including a finished wood block—we offer a mix of material that covers a wide swath of an artistic career that spanned close to four decades. Beginning with the original artwork for Roger Fry’s 1910 Christmas card and bookended by his detailed drawing for the crucifix for the Blundell School chapel, which Gill executed in 1938—just two years before his death—this group presents a representative overview of Gill as calligrapher, sculptor, engraver, illustrator, and author.
In his introductory essay to The Gehenna Press: The Work of Fifty Years, Colin Franklin cites a contemporary interview Leonard Baskin had given in which he stated that “People like me who care about printing, constitute the tiniest lunatic fringe in the nation.” Judging from the range of those whose projects has been influenced by Baskin’s book work—whether directly or indirectly—that fringe has grown into a tapestry.
Inspired by Michael Kuch’s solo show, "Angels & Emblemata: Monotypes, Oils, and Intaglios by Michael Kuch," on view in our Gallery through May 4th, 2023, we took a deep dive into our shelves and assembled this list of work by illustrators and printers whose graphic sensibility derived from studying or working with Baskin—a list that, in addition to Kuch, includes Barry Moser, David Godine, Gillian Tyler, and others. Even from this relatively small sampling, one can see the deep, indelible impression Baskin left on the world of fine printing.
Now that we have turned the calendar page to a shiny new year, we thought it a fitting occasion to present our first list for 2023, which we have filled with shiny new acquisitions. We therefore offer for your consideration twenty-five recent arrivals in the area of American and English fine printing.
In this e-catalogue, we present a fairly representative cross-section of the output of the firm David Bryce & Son, which revolutionized the miniature book world around the turn of the 20th century.
Over the duration of our exhibit, “Word for Word: Four Artists in Conversation,” we have reflected on the look of language, on the parallels between the ways we see and the ways we speak and write. What is for us a source of wonder has been the central question for our current artists—Sarah Hulsey, Thomas Ingmire, Marianne Perlak, and Margaret Shepherd—and the primary pursuit of typographers and calligraphers who seek to reveal a text’s meaning by way of its own letters. With this in mind, we here offer highlights from “Word for Word” and from our own collection, setting out a landscape of letterforms rich in creativity and interpretation.