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 inexpensively.
Below are a few of my favorite pages scanned from the book. Click to view larger.
One of my favorite places was the American Folk Art Museum. I was looking for something similar to Chicago’s Intuit , which is one of my all-time favorite museums. 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 recognizable names.
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.”
‘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.
This early Russian stop-motion 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. It is written and directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, and co-directed by Yuri Norstein.
screen printed poster, 12.5″ x 18.5″, edition of 53
Participating artists were asked to create posters in the style of WPA-era posters of the 1940’s. The goal is to raise awareness of certain social/political/environmental issues of today. The posters will be distributed in public spaces, donated to educators and workshops, and exhibited on April 16th at EXPO 72 / Chicago Tourism Gallery