Friday, November 18, 2011

MCBA's Winter Books from the Artists' Books Collection are on display!

Since 1988, MCBA's annual Winter Book has engaged artists, designers, papermakers, printers, bookbinders and community volunteers in producing a handmade, limited edition artist's book featuring poetry or prose by a Minnesota author.

The 7th annual Winter Book, The West Pole, features handmade paper and walnut stained cover papers.

The 8th annual Winter Book is hand bound with handmade paper over boards, enclosed in a box, with a removable print.

The 13th annual Winter Book, Ice Walk, features paper bound text and 10 loose prints in glasine sleeves, all housed in cloth-bound portfolio letterpress printing.

The 17th annual Winter Book, There is No Other Way to Speak, features illustrations and letterpressed text with an exposed long-stitch binding.

The 2011 Winter Book, Come and Get It, will be released December 10th! For more information, visit: MCBA

Monday, November 7, 2011

Capture the Floating World (Ukiyo-e) - Take in the MIA Exhibition Today

Utamaro, Kitagawa
Woman Holding a Comb
color woodblock print
ca. 1798
Art Institute of Chicago
In the rush of your life, take an hour to walk next-door to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where you can experience the fleeting moments of the people of Edo (1603-1868) Japan.  This was a time of urbanization when people were leaving their rural lifestyles to embrace the prospects of the cities. It was time when a large number of people could attempt to make their lives more than mere survival.  It was a time when people could seek novelty and pursue pleasures.

Many city-dwellers now had time and money to spend and they had abundant decadent options to choose from. Among these were the lively dramatic kabuki theater performances, the so-called "pleasure quarters" where men could spend time with beautiful and entertaining women, whether sexually or not.  In addition, they could take in poetry readings, dance recitals, celebrate festivals, enjoy tea in ceremonies, and eat at the many new restaurants.

Another result of their moving to cities was the loss of the natural world.  They came to cherish the beauty of nature in the small, changing details of the cherry blossoms or maple leaves.  To retain these natural experiences in their minds, they could buy artists' renderings of these flowers and trees to adorn their walls.

Since their wealth allowed them to travel for pleasure, they could see for themselves the famous and beautiful scenes they had read about in literature. And again, they could buy prints of these landscapes, whether or not they had actually seen them. These provided them a window into the natural world they had left behind.

Iona Rozeal Brown
a3 blackface #58
acrylic/paper 50x38"
The artists of the day tried to capture these moments in their wood-block prints, which they produced in multiples for sale to these city-dwellers.  They were very successful in creating both hauntingly beautiful prints and in representing the times in which they lived.

We, and all the artists after them, are very fortunate to be able to glimpse this world.  From the 19th century, when Westerners first saw these Japanese ukiyo-e prints, through today they have inspired many artists from Van Gogh to  Iona Rozeal Brown.  You can see the work of  twelve of these modern day variants in the second part of the show.

Before or after seeing the exhibition you can take a look at our books, both on ukiyo-e prints and on some of the best-known practitioners, like Harunobu, Utamaro, Sharaku, Hokusai and Hiroshige.  We also have a new book about Iona Rozeal Brown's recent exhibition of paintings, which she models directly on ukiyo-e prints. She is quite an inspiration herself.

So, go. Divert yourself in just floating, floating... at the MIA

Eva Hyvarinen, Visual Resource Assistant
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

These images were chosen as illustrations for this article and do not represent actual pieces in the exhibition.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Artist in Fiction: Artists have Stories, Told and Untold, Real and Imaginary

Magpie of the Gallows-Pieter Bruegel
Road with Two Cypresses-Vincent van Gogh
Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace-Frida Kahlo
Novelists, of course, love a good story and they have often found great stories in the lives of artists.  It seems that writers prefer artists over, for example politicians or businessmen.  Is this because they identify more with artists or because they find better stories in these artistic people? 

Certainly, plenty of artists have had colorful lives and have embraced the essence of the times in which they lived.  Therefore, writers and filmmakers can use them to illuminate a time and place. However, I think the more compelling reason that storytellers are drawn to artists is because they themselves have been entranced by the artists' works. 

They experienced a Van Gogh painting of an almost other-worldly landscape, one so much like what they have known, but with the odd skewed quality that actually seems to have more clarity and which reminded them of the magic in life.

Or they looked at Frida Kahlo's self-portraits and saw both the beauty and the horror of living.  And in seeing these paintings or seeing "Incredulity of Saint Thomas" by Caravaggio or "Magpie of the Gallows" by Bruegel they were drawn in to the artist's world by the details and suggestions.  Even in Mary Cassatt's portraits of her sickly sister or the self-portraits of Rembrandt they could see the stories the artists were telling and not quite telling.

Lydia working at a tapestry frame-Mary Cassatt
Incredulity of St. Thomas-Caravaggio
They perceived both the projected subjects, but also the hidden stories of the artists themselves. Consequently, they wanted to know and to reveal the details of these hidden stories. In some cases they had to create the missing story-pieces needed to complete the puzzles of unknown lives.  In doing so, they have created  fun, intriguing stories to read or watch. 

We have assembled, at our main library desk, these novels and films from a variety of artists through time and from many parts of the world.  You can experience the world of Piranesi in 18th century Rome, Vermeer in 17th century Holland, Audubon in 19th century Louisiana, or Pan Yuliang in 20th century Shanghai, among many others.

Self-portrait with Beret and Turned up Collar-Rembrandt
In addition to this biographical fiction, we have also gathered some purely fictionalized stories involving artists, students, historians, forgers, curators, models, and museum guards.  These show how art affects not just it's creator, but all the people who interact with it, sometimes in astonishing ways as in the Madonnas of Leningrad.

Pick one or more and enter into these imagined artist's worlds.  You might find that you identify with the difficulties and aspirations of the characters and come to appreciate their art in a way you wouldn't have without knowing their stories.

For those of you who are not able to come in to our library, you can take a look at our list of works, which are grouped by type and then alphabetically by title:

Novels  (Biographical)
The Agony and the Ecstasy, a Novel of Michelangelo / Irving Stone [Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564]
Artemisia : a Novel / Alexandra Lapierre [Gentileschi, Artemisia, 1593-1652]
The Artist's Wife : a Novel / Max Phillips [Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969; Klimt, Gustav, 1862-1918; Kokoschka, Oskar, 1886-1980; Mahler, Alma, 1879-1964; Mahler, Gustav, 1860-1911]
As Above, so Below : a Novel of Peter Bruegel / Rudy Rucker [Bruegel, Pieter, ca. 1525-1569]
Audubon's Watch : a Novel / John Gregory Brown [Audubon, John James, 1785-1851]
Burnt Umber : a Novel / by Sheldon Greene [Marc, Franz, 1880-1916]
Clara and Mr. Tiffany / Susan Vreeland [Driscoll, Clara, 1861-1944; Tiffany, Louis Comfort, 1848-1933]
Depths of Glory : a Biographical Novel of Camille Pissarro / by Irving Stone [Pissarro, Camille, 1830-1903]
The Forest Lover / Susan Vreeland [Carr, Emily, 1871-1945]
Girl in Hyacinth Blue / Susan Vreeland [Vermeer, Johannes, 1632-1675]
Girl with a Pearl Earring / Tracy Chevalier [Vermeer, Johannes, 1632-1675]
In the Casa Azul : a Novel of Revolution and Betrayal / Meaghan Delahunt [Kahlo, Frida]
Incantation of Frida K. / Kate Braverman [Kahlo, Frida; Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957]
La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl / David Huddle [La Tour, Georges du Mesnil de, 1593-1652]
Light / Eva Figes [Monet, Claude, 1840-1926]
The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals : a Novel / Michael Kernan [Hals, Frans, 1584-1666]
Lust for life, a Novel of Vincent van Gogh / Irving Stone [Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890]
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper : a Novel / by Harriet Scott Chessman [Cassatt, Mary, 1844-1926]
Michelangelo, the Florentine; a Novel by Sidney Alexander [Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564]
The Painted Room : a Tale of Mantua / Inger Christensen [Mantegna, Andrea, 1431-1506]
The Painter from Shanghai / Jennifer Cody Epstein [Pan, Yuliang, 1895-1977]
Painting in a Man's World / Diane Broeckhoven ... et al. [Bracquemond, Marie, 1841-1916; Cassatt, Mary, 1844-1926; Gonzalès, Eva, 1849-1883; Morisot, Berthe, 1841-1895]
The Passion of Artemisia / Susan Vreeland [Gentileschi, Artemisia, 1593-1652]
Piranesi's Dream : a Novel / by Gerhard Köpf [Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778]
Portrait of an Unknown Woman / Vanora Bennett [Holbein, Hans, 1497-1543]
Rembrandt, a Novel / Gladys Schmitt [Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1606-1669]
The Venetian : a Novel / by David Weiss [Titian, ca. 1488-1576]
Vincent; a Novel Based on the Life of Van Gogh / Joost Poldermans  [Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890]
The Years with Laura Díaz / Carlos Fuentes [Kahlo, Frida; Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957]

Films (Biographical)
Andrei Rublev : the Passion According to Andrei
Basquiat [Basquiat, Jean Michel]
Camille Claudel [Claudel, Camille; Rodin, Auguste, 1840-1917]
Caravaggio [Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610]
Crumb [Crumb, R.]
Dream of light : Quince Tree of the Sun [López-García, Antonio, 1936- ]
Edvard Munch [Munch, Edvard, 1863-1944]
Frida [Kahlo, Frida]
Girl with a Pearl Earring [Vermeer, Johannes, 1632-1675]
I shot Andy Warhol [Warhol, Andy, 1928-1987]
Love is the devil [Bacon, Francis, 1909-1992]
Lust for life [Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890]
Surviving Picasso [Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973]

Novels (Fictional artists)
Art & lies : a Piece for Three Voices and a Bawd / Jeanette Winterson
An Artist of the Floating World / Kazuo Ishiguro
The Birth of Venus : a Novel / Sarah Dunant
The Body Artist / Don DeLillo
Cat's Eye / Margaret Atwood
The Cheese Monkeys : a Novel in Two Semesters / by Chip Kidd
Conversations with a Clown / Michael Welzenbach
The Flanders Panel / Arturo Pérez-Reverte
The Horse's Mouth : a Novel / by Joyce Cary
Islands in the Stream / Ernest Hemingway
The Lady and the Unicorn / Tracy Chevalier
The Learners : the Book after "The Cheese Monkeys" / by Chip Kidd
Madonnas of Leningrad / Debra Dean
The Moon and Sixpence / W. Somerset Maugham
My Name is Red / Orhan Pamuk
Niche : a Novel / by Séguier and Plessis
Of Human Bondage / W. Somerset Maugham
On Beauty : a Novel / by Zadie Smith
Orchard : a Novel / Larry Watson
A Painter of Our Time / John Berger
Quattrocento : a Novel / James McKean
The Third Eye / by Mike Rogers
365 Views of Mt. Fuji : Algorithms of the Floating World / Todd Shimoda
The Time Traveler's Wife : a Novel / by Audrey Niffenegger
What's Bred in the Bone / Robertson Davies
When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of the Earth : a Novel / by Fernanda Eberstadt
A Window Across the River  / Brian Morton
A World to Come / Dara Horn

Films (Fictional artists)
Blood of a poet
Me and you and everyone we know
The Moderns
Moulin Rouge

Eva Hyvarinen, Visual Resource Assistant
Minneapolis College of Art and Design