Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ramifications and Insects

Today was glorious. I spent some time in our research library looking at the first and second editions of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection to look at the one illustration in the volume, his famous “Tree of Life” diagram showing the natural variation among offspring of a given species, emphasizing those variations that are preserved by natural selection and that lead, after many (thousands) of generations to new genera. This appears in the chapter “Character of Natural Selection” in the section on “Divergence of Character.” Here is some of Darwin’s language on the topic, which I found especially heartening since I am working on a project about trees-as-trees and trees-as-metaphors and I have struggled with the wonderful words “ramify” and “ramification.”
The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth. […] As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.
I also took several hours to look closely at a sumptuously illustrated book by Marie Sibylle de Merian (1647-1717), Histoire générale des insectes de Surinam et de toute l’Europe …. Merian, of the great Frankfurt family of printmakers, begins her text with the disarming admission, "Des ma jeunesse je me suis appliquée à l’examen des Insectes."
Well, a toast to Marie Sibylle for sustaining her childhood love of the study of insects. This book is a beautiful achievement that considers insects in their complex relationships with plants and people. Note the current exhibition at the Getty Museum: Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science.

[Images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Litany of Locations of Printy Particulars, Spring 2008

It has been a mad spring, punctuated by an impressive lineup of print-related travels to: Evanston, Northwestern University, Block Gallery, to attend the symposium, “Patterns, Pixels and Process,” held in conjunction with the exhibition Painted by Numbers.
§ →Frieder Nake spoke eloquently, commenting that even forty years ago when you (a computer artist) had only 4K, your mind didn't care, it said, "let's try it, come with me."
§ →Image: © Colette and Jeff Bangert, Large Landscape: Ochre and Black, 1970, ink on paper, computer-plotter (detail)

Wellesley, Davis Museum and Cultural Center, to attend the symposium and opening for Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Dürer and Titian.
§ → image: Dürer’s Triumphal Arch of Maximilian was brilliantly installed, allowing it to shine with more than imperial splendor.

oston, Museum of Fine Art, to see the exhibition Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1939.

§ → In which the keen edges of British linocuts are seen to churn forth from the froth of WWI (apologies to Edward Wadsworth).

ew York, to discuss an idea with a foundation and to visit a collector of prints who is, of course, also a
bicycle fanatic.
§ → In which I learn of the Ghost Bikes.
§ → image: view from a modest hotel room.

New York, MoMA and Parsons/New School, to attend the Mind08 symposium, held in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition, Design and the Elastic Mind (also visiting paper-pilgrim sites such as Printed Matter and the new Kinokuniya bookstore on the Avenue of the Americas).
§ → In which I take thirty pages of notes, many in darkness save blinding flashes from the Blackberry of an idiot sitting next to me.
§ → In which we learn from Peter
Galison of a study by John Nettis and his concern for symmetry in snowflakes (1755), and especially of snowflake No. 84.
§ → image: message received.

hicago, to assist in sorting out the estate of two dear friends. By luck I was also able to attend the opening night of Artopolis.

§ → I am captivated by the series, “The Structure of Thought” by Doug and Mike Starn, reminded of the work of Martin Ramirez, and heartened by the presence of artists’ books and printed tee shirts.

§ → image: label copy

inneapolis, University of Minnesota, Department of Art, to judge an invitational print exhibition. I Also visit with surprising range of old friends: one from college
days (ca. 1970), one from my years in Belgium (ca. 1980), a previous student (ca. 1990) who is now tenured at “UMN,” and an artist friend who I first met ca. 2000. Happily, I also made at least two new friends and visited Highland press.
§ → image: two UMN studios.

s I put pixel to screen I am in South Pasedena, near my home town of Altadena. I am commuting to L.A. to do some research at the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies (LACMA) and to participate in the 7th annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators. I also hope to see two exhibitions: a) concerning Doctrinal Nourishment by my old love, James Ensor, and b) concerning the prints of Ludwig Kirchner.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Making Prints in 2008

Well, this will be a short post to encourage all you printmakers out there to make some important work in 2008. I'm still at work on a thank-you print for friends who helped with my travels last fall. I'm just inking up an old test block I made awhile ago to try out various carving tools and, of course, it turned out better than a well-planned image. Best to you all for 2008!