Every summer, I visit the Newberry Library Book Fair, an incredible used and rare books festival which takes places at The Newberry Library in Chicago. I save up money and spend most of it on as many books as I can carry back home.
I’ve recently been looking at one of the books that I picked up at the fair. I wanted to share it with my students, then found myself completely immersed in it (this happens a lot). It’s a beautiful collection of over 100 full-page photographs of highly magnified plant forms. They are characterful and lively; with a little imagination, one could find faces, bodies, architecture, and plenty of inspiration in the simple, graphic structures.
The book is “Art Forms in the Plant World” by Karl Blossfeldt. It is not a rare book and can be acquired online quite cheaply.
Below are a few of my favorite pages scanned from the book. Click to view larger.
I got back to Chicago last week but haven’t found time to post anything until now. Although it was a short trip, I got to explore a little bit and see old friends, which is always lovely.
OK, serious dork-alert ahead, be advised…
One of my favorite places was the American Folk Art Museum (told you!) I was trying to find something similar to Intuit in Chicago (which is a total treasure). Turns out the Folk Art Museum has free admission. It also turns out not many people have heard of the place. It’s too bad because it’s got some really incredible gems! The exhibit, “Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined”, featured selections from the collection, everything from traditional crafts to more well-known figures like Darger and Wolfli.
I took photos of stuff I hadn’t encountered before:
This painting particularly struck me for some strange reason. It is by Jamaican artist Sidney McLaren, who didn’t begin painting until much later in life. It reads: “Sidney McLaren – Artist at 84 yrs. old. Life is What One Makes it. No Two Men Alike.” (1979)
This one is titled “Roaring Lion, Guardian of the Temples” by Augustin Lesage (1938):
Lesage, a miner in France, started hearing voices while working underground, and began to paint under their direction. “My guides have told me: ‘Do not try to understand what you are doing.’ I draw the figures they make me draw. I pick the colors they make me pick and mix colors without knowing what I will end up with.” Yep, just do what you’re compelled to do and you’ll be okay. Lesage did, and eventually even made it out of the mines.
‘Strange Fruits’, by Ulysses Davis, made in the 1970’s in Savannah, Georgia. It doesn’t translate well in the photo, the actual sculpture is very beautiful and fantastical in real life. It was made at the height of the civil rights movement. The title comes from a 1937 poem by Abel Meeropol – later transformed into a protest song and sung by Billie Holiday:
The next day I ended up at the Rubin Museum and walked around. There was a really great exhibit of Illuminated Books, such as this beautiful Gospels Book from 16th century Armenia, with earrings and metalwork tacked onto it:
There was so much more and I wish I could devote a whole day to writing about it all. I also visited Printed Matter, which was a real treat.
My love for early stop-motion Russian animation is endless. This film is one of my favorites; the images were photographed on glass panes that were slowly shifted to create the illusion of movement in space, along with other techniques. It’s written and directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, and co-directed by Yuri Norstein. This is some of the earlier work for Norstein (1969), his later work is really incredible and worth checking out.
This is a 2-color screen print on light green cover stock,12.5 in. x 18.5 in., in an edition of 53. Each artist, of the participating 70+, was asked to donate 25 posters to the Printervention show; these will be distributed in public spaces, part of workshops/demos, given to educators, and exhibited on April 16th at the Chicago Tourism Gallery (yes, come!) The posters are meant to raise awareness of social/political issues of today, in the style/sense of the WPA-era posters of the 1940’s – see the Library of Congress’ WPA Posters Collection for some beautiful poster art from those times.
Also, you can see the Printervention website for more information and a sneak peek at some of the posters & artists. If you click on the image below, it will expand, woooooo….
I found this link on Anders Nielsen’s blog, and I just had to repost. This photograph was taken by Chris Jordan in 2009.
Click here if you want to find out more about this image. To see more of Jordan’s work, you can visit his website at chrisjordan.com