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Summer Reading: Artists' Books from Nashville Collections


The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery opened its summer exhibition program on June 17, 2003 with Summer Reading: Artists' Books from Nashville Collections. This exhibition presents a number of artist-made books, some simply illustrating important works of literature, others that are distinct, independent works of art. Also included will be a select group of press books-those that are produced in limited editions. The exhibition will run through August 16, 2003.

Reading is a particularly apt summer activity. Recognizing this, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery has brought together a remarkable collection of books, many from the private collection of Dave and Peggy Rados, along with other local collections such as the Cheekwood Museum of Art and that of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery itself. They include pieces by, among others, Susan Allix, John Baldessari, John Christie, Jim Dine, Richard Diebenkorn, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tony Fitzpatrick, Ronald King, Barry Moser, Robert Motherwell, Martin Puryear, Deb Rindl, Elliot Ross, and Claire Van Vliet, with work by such authors as Nelson Algren, John Ashbury, Charles Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Michael McClure, Herman Melville, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Kenneth White, and W.B. Yeats.

The exhibition will be divided into four sections: The Illustrated Novel, Poetry and the Illustrated Book, Shakespeare and the Illustrated Book, and The Unconventional Book.

The Illustrated Novel will contain such masterpieces as Arion Press' edition of Moby-Dick by the 19th-century American novelist Herman Melville, with illustrations in the form of woodcuts by Barry Moser, a master of the medium. This section will also feature Ernest Hemingway's seminal novel, The Old Man and The Sea, illustrated with photographs by Alfred Eisenstaedt, whom for many years was a photographer for Life magazine, as wellas Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain with illustrations, again, by Barry Moser.

The second section, Poetry and the Illustrated Book, will include Vanderbilt's Red Bird by Christopher Logue -- a collection of poems based on the Spanish of Pablo Neruda and illustrated by the English artist, John Christie. Also included will be The Temple of Flora, a beautifully illustrated book containing twenty-eight drypoint engravings by the American artist, Jim Dine, with botanical notes compiled and poetry selected by Glen Todd and Nany Dine.

Shakespeare and the Illustrated Book will present such Shakespeare classics as Anthony and Cleopatra, illustrated by Ronald King and included in Vanderbilt's collection, as well as The Tragedie of King Lear, with illustrations provided by Claire Van Vliet. Also included will be Flowers from Shakespeare by Susan Allix, a charming book containing eighteen quotations on flowers from Shakespeare's plays and arranged with a variety of prints. The text combines well-known favorites with obscure verse and flowers that include daisies, pinks, cowslips, primroses and poppies.

The final section, entitled The Unconventional Book, will highlight such books as Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery, one of America's most revered contemporary poets. Based on Parmiganino's sixteenth-century painting by the same name, Ashbery's poetry is joined, in circular format, with original prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers. The prints are in various mediums, including lithography, etching, and woodcut and were created in direct response to the poem as well as the self-portrait by Parmiganino that inspired Ashbery. Also included in this section is Deb Rindi's The Bookmaker, a hand-held, sculpturally based book-object which, when opened, the contents spring out and expand in size. Sections of text, instructions and various definitions of the bookform are placed amongst the concertina folds. Enlarged printed lettering is cut and folded as part of the book's structure to become both a decorative pattern and a pointer as to the physical direction of the work.

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rev. 10/20/10

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