Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's the Book Arts!

an occasional Thursday feature highlighting the work of Mrs.5000 and other book artists or toilers in affiliated vineyards.

Congratulations are now due to the Haas Arts Library Special Collections at Yale University, which has not only jumped on the bandwagon of institutions across this great continent with a original Mrs.5000 in their collection -- but which had the tact and good sense to do so by commission!!  

Mrs.5000, 2011

Collaged wood accordion-fold book with collapsible string art; ¾” Douglas-fir boards hinged with airplane linen and usu mino repair tissue. Collage and acrylics on cold-press watercolor paper, with perforated circuit board, walnut, birch aircraft plywood, and cotton-wrapped polyester thread. 2011. Unique.

From the Artist's Statement

"....As I began work on this book, I decided to continue working with paintings from the late Gothic period—in which artists were increasingly interested in depicting architectural space, but laws of perspective were not yet fixed and codified. Many of these scenes seem oddly modern, with their tilting floors and improbable constructions, a charming, uneasy blend of fancy and observation. Moreover, they work well in an artist’s book, where the movement of facing pages emphasizes fluid, shifting viewpoints.

This time around, lacking a strong single source, it took me many days, with open books spread out on the floor in front of my bookshelves, to slowly converge on a set of images and unifying themes. On my way, I pondered the line between medieval and Renaissance, and lamented the relatively infrequent depiction of interior spaces. I coveted St. Jerome’s study, especially as imagined by da Messina and Durer, and contemplated reassigning it to various women: Jerome’s acolyte and chief funding source Saint Paula; Saint Barbara, locked in her mythical tower; or Christine de Pizan, medieval writer and proto-feminist. Eventually, I settled on a disparate series of images and texts that seemed to cohere—not one but several women, linked by threads of reading and writing, spinning and  lacemaking....


The book’s title, monochromatic illustrations of lace, and text in German come from Handbuch der Spitzenkunde: Technisches und Geschichtliches by Tina Frauberger, published in Leipzig in 1894. The first part of the book describes different techniques of lacemaking; the second part, “Geschichtliches,” gives brief historical accounts of lacemaking in various countries. Geschichtliches means “historical” (or, since it has a plural form, perhaps“historicals”). For me, it’s an expansive, open-ended title, referring to any number of possible stories or histories that might be suggested by the book. Though I don’t speak German, I’ve long been intrigued that its word for history shares a root with geological terms for sedimentary layers. At the bottom of one of the pages, I added a line from a poem I wrote over twenty years ago: “Geschichte is history, but also layers.”

The small, gothic text which also occurs as a collaged element is from a Swedish Bible.

The three women, one writing and two spinning with distaffs, are all from The Medieval Woman: An Illuminated Book of Days, 1985, researched and edited by Sally Fox. The woman writing is Christine de Pizan. Other images are reproductions from various art books (culled from many years of Friends of the Library book sales). The building in the third front panel is from a fresco in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, attributed to Giotto. The two back pages are dominated by the wonderful (and decidedly Renaissance) St. Jerome in His Study by Antonello da Messina. St. Jerome has been excised, but his lion still prowls about. The book and hand on the front cover are also those of St. Jerome, by Giovanni di Paolo; the same artist painted the arches to the right of St. Jerome’s  shadow-drenched arcade. The book in the foreground is in the hands of the moneylender’s wife in a well-known portrait by Quentin Matsys."


Jennifer said...

Aww, lucky (and smart) Yale!

gl. said...

most excellent!