Astarte In Paisley

Take, if you will, the following group of words and and allow them to swim and mix and coalesce in your head: Greek mythology, simulated sex, paisley leotards, projectors, flowers, psychedelia, lotus tattoos, day-glo, multi-media, “hard rock” music, ballet… Now let me ask you, what single word might the synthesis of these things naturally result in as response? If you harumphed and murmured, “trainwreck” I’m right there with you. 

02.18. filed under: art. history. observations. 8

The Emperor of Presumption

History has seen to it that the number of artists we’ve never heard of far outweighs those which we have, and positively dwarfs, like a supercluster to a matchbook, the number which we revere. This is doubtless as it should be since every aimless young person without quantifiable interests or skills seem to eventually shuffle (or be herded) into the arts seeking refuge from reality. From among these ranks of artists destined to be forgotten I bring you the somewhat interesting case of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the self-styled “emperor of presumption,” who undertook a determined campaign to be remembered in the annals of art history.

Histoire Naturelle des Indes

The Histoire Naturelle des Indes, created sometime in the 1590’s, is one of the earliest illustrated records of European contact with the America. Also know it by its informal title The Drake Manuscript it was donated to the the Pierpont Morgan Library in 1983, who after many years of study graciously produced a full color facsimile. I happen to have said facsimile, which was published in 1996, right here in front of me. Shall we take a gander?

01.19. filed under: art. books. history. humanity. 12


Or: praise of futures past

A few weeks ago I picked up a book in the bargain bin at Strand titled Mechanismo. When the guy ringing me up at the checkout counter came upon it in my stack, he stopped, flipped through it quickly and somewhat sheepishly, and alerted a buddy standing a few registers down. They admired it together. I remember thinking, “Well, guess that one is Nonist worthy.” The book, published in 1978, is essentially a collection of essays by the venerable Harry Harrison on all things science-fictional. What makes the book standout, however, is the bounty of 70’s era sci-fi illustrations contained within, and it’s some of these that I’d like to share with you.

01.12. filed under: art. books. science. space. 13

The British Library has a dynamite collection of fine and historical bookbindings numbering, evidently, in the thousands, and their online database will happily serve them up, in random groups of 25, for your ogling pleasure. On the whole they are ludicrously beautiful, making those spiffy, redesigned, Penguin Classic’s we’re all so fond of look about as precious as supermarket circulars. To see them for yourself go here and simply click “reselect” to see more.

The site does not offer much, however, by way of supporting historical information, and knowing, as I do, that beautiful pictures just aren’t enough for you “internauts,” and indeed how ravenously hungry you all are for lengthy texts to read in your browser window, I’ve taken the liberty of gathering together a list of related materials which could shed some light on the art and craft of bookbinding. See below. 

01.03. filed under: art. books. design. history. 7

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