One of the items to be featured in our upcoming architectural exhibit, Building Buffalo, is a uniquely bound guest book believed to have been owned by the Darwin Martin family. The beautiful designs on the cover closely reflect the window designs of the Martin house, and the book includes the signatures of numerous Martin relatives.
The book, which was probably bound at the turn of the 20th century, was created by internationally renowned bookbinder John F. Grabau (1878-1948), a local teacher, lecturer and master of the hand-tooled art. Examples of his work were owned by four American presidents, European royalty and many literary celebrities, and Grabau’s works were exhibited at numerous significant exhibitions.
Among the visitors of the Martin family who signed their names as guests between 1907 and 1930 include American poet Carl Sandburg, who was presented to the Buffalo social organization the 20th Century Club in November of 1920, and organic architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Rare Book Room’s latest artist’s book acquisition is Timothy Freich’s creation Shale. Inspired by Agricola’s great geological work De Re Metallica (1556), Shale captures the look and feel of the Marcellus Shale that can be found in Western New York along the shores of Lake Erie.
The front and back covers of Shale are made of a flexible rock material. The pages are hand-made papers produced from black denim. A hand-sewn Coptic binding makes the structure of this codex. Between the leaves, which look like layers of shale, digital reproductions of De Re Metallica‘s woodcut illustrations are printed onto the pages. The graduated shape cuts into the text block engender a geologic structure like that of the Marcellus Shale strata formation providing interior texture and depth to the work.
Shale joins Mr. Frerich’s Linnaeus Gardens sketchbooks and folios in the Rare Book Room’s Book Arts Collection.
Central Library staff decided to create a book sculpture–an homage to the book–and place it where those approaching the front entrance of Library and those inside looking out could see it through the seasons as an evolving member of the garden.
Though not belonging to the Rare Book Collection (and certainly NOT made of books from the Rare Book Collection!), the sculpture is another worthy demonstration of Book Art making it near and dear to Rare Book Room’s heart.
As stated before, the sculpture was a collaborative staff effort. Staff from the Maintenance Department, Graphics Department and the Grosvenor Room designed and installed this fine piece of book art [re]using superseded or duplicative books that had been discarded. Instead of destroying the no-longer-useful books, we turned them into art!
Filed under Art, Book Art
The latest artist’s book acquisition for the Grosvenor Rare Book Room (GRBR) is Julie Chen’s Memento. Limited to 50 copies, GRBR was fortunate to secure number 49. Reflecting upon the March 2007 bombing of a bookseller’s stall on Baghdad’s Al-Mutanabbi Street, the metal locket holds a miniature book to demonstrate the delicate nature of books and words, and to remind us about the power of reading. Also held in the locket is a triptych commemorating the booksellers’ street. Done with jeweler’s precision in miniature, Chen’s work speaks volumes with its few words.
You live your life
careless of the liberty that you have inherited.
For you, the printed word has become commonplace
a substance that you take for granted
like the inalienable right to think your own thoughts
thoughts made visible through words on paper and then
thrown in the trash without consideration
a thing so basic that you are not conscious of its contingency.
You value the written word only abstractly
not as though this value could be translated into such things as
time or money or freedom from persecution.
What if with each word you ever read you risked losing
one millisecond of your life
And with each word you destroyed without thought
you risked bringing your community
one millisecond closer to destruction?
A book would be a force of reckoning
An object to he cherished and feared
The dividing line between the free world and the unfree world
This is the reality you pretend not to see
You focus instead on
We focus instead on
The idea of freedom for all
ignoring the simple fact that this has never been
the way things are.
What will it take to wake us
from our collective dream?
The second installation of artists’ books alongside the science texts that inspired them is on display in the Central Library’s Grosvenor Rare Book Display Room. In this phase of the exhibit artists’ books and science first editions pairings include:
- FAULT LINES BY DOUG BEUBE, 2003, with BRITANNIA: OR, THE KINGDOM OF ENGLAND AND DOMINION OF WALES, ACTUALLY SURVEY’D BY JOHN OGILBY, 1698.
- BERNOULLI’S EQUATION FOR UNSTEADY FLOW BY AMANDINE NABARRA-PIOMELLI, 2008, with ARS CONJECTANDI, OPUS POSTHUMUM. BY JAKOB BERNOULLI, 1713.
- DE RERUM BY TIM FRERICHS, 2013, with PRINCIPLES OF GEOLOGY BY (3 VOLUMES) BY SIR CHARLES LYELL, 1830-33.
- POWERBOOK #2 BY RICHARD KEGLER, 1996, with BIBLE, OLD TESTAMENT [LEAF FROM BOOK OF JOB] PRINTED BY JOHANNES GUTENBERG, C. 1450-1455.
There is art to be found in science books and science to be found in artist’s books.
Although current society has come to think of science and math exclusively as “left-brained” functions while art and creativity are considered “right-brained” activity, some book artists are bridging this hemispheric divide with artist’s books and book arts inspired by science texts. These artist’s books reflect upon or interpret significant works and concepts of astronomy, medicine, geology, physics and more. Today’s mutually exclusive idea of “left-brained” and “right-brained” activity discounts longer understood ideas that science is a creative pursuit—that there really is art to be found in science—and that creative artworks often have some scientific basis and/or inspiration.
Since the short story “Rip Van Winkle” was first published by Washington Irving in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 1819, numerous adaptations have appeared. Among the first American authors to achieve international acclaim, Irving would argue for stronger copyright laws as his early works were often pirated for European consumption.
The late author and librarian, Edward F. Ellis, would leave several book collections to the BECPL in his will, products of over forty years of book collecting. Perhaps the most unique collection of items are the books and other materials inspired by “Rip Van Winkle.” Included among the many editions are fine bindings, such as the Roycroft printing of 1905, as well as editions by important illustrators such as N. C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham and Barry Moser.
Prints and figurines are also part of the collection, including a 1954 Royal Doulton mug.
Rip Van Winkle Figurines