[Traylor] was beautiful to see—so right with himself and at peace—as the rich imagery of his long life welled up into his drawings and paintings.
—Charles Shannon, 1985*
The High Museum of Art is currently showing the exhibit Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit, a collaboration of the two museums, showcases over sixty works by the self-taught, Alabama artist Bill Traylor.
Born into slavery around 1854, Traylor grew up in rural Alabama. In 1928 he moved to Montgomery where he survived on the streets of Monroe Avenue, working and living in meager conditions. When he was eighty years old and physically unable to work, he started to draw. On the sidewalks of Montgomery, he used crayons, graphite pencils, and poster paint on pieces of old cardboard to create pictures of rural and urban life.
Charles Shannon, a Montgomery artist, befriended Traylor in 1939. He soon championed his work, buying and preserving most of Traylor’s drawings. For nearly forty years, Shannon protected Traylor’s art, convinced the drawings deserved to be in museums alongside works by mainstream artists. Finally, in the late 1970’s, the drawings were introduced to the public and are now regarded as important examples of American art.
The exhibition catalogue, produced by Marquand Books, allows the reader a close view of the textural, temporal qualities of Traylor’s work. Essays by Susan Mitchell Crawley and Leslie H. Paisely explore both the history of the artist’s life, as well as the history of preserving his works. The 111-page catalogue includes portraits of the artist and selected works from the collections of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the High Museum of Art.
To learn more about the exhibition or to purchase the catalogue, visit the High Museum of Art online.
* Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Susan Mitchell Crawley. Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. (New York: Prestel, 2012), 13.
photography by Jeremy Linden
The history of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia is as interesting as its collections. Established in 1812, the Academy was the nation’s center for scientific thought and discovery. It funded expeditions into the western wilderness and its members classified and categorized the variety of specimens they found. Today, the Academy’s collections are important libraries of the biodiversity in flora and fauna.
The book A Glorious Enterprise chronicles events that have shaped the Academy’s history over the last 200 years, from its early beginnings as an epicenter for science to its present-day status as the United States’ oldest natural history museum.
Produced by Marquand Books and designed by Jeff Wincapaw, this 464-page book details the collections of the museum in more than 250 color illustrations. Essays by Robert McCracken Peck and Patricia Tyson Stroud and photographs by Rosamond Purcell illuminate the stories of past discoveries.
To purchase A Glorious Enterprise, visit the University of Pennsylvania Press.
photography by Jeremy Linden
A lot of thought and creativity goes into the design of each book we create: What colors and typefaces best suit the art each book holds? What materials and textures complement the artwork on the pages? At its best, this design process creates books that have compelling object quality—the thing about a book that makes you take it off the shelf and look through every page. Books with object quality are as intriguing on the outside as they are on the inside.
The catalogue New Image Sculpture, which we produced for the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, is one example of object quality. The 2011 exhibition featured works by artists who re-created and reinterpreted items of everyday life using unusual materials: a wheelbarrow was sculpted from clay, a boom box was made out of cardboard.
To create the exhibition’s catalogue, we also used uncommon materials. The cover of the catalogue, made with gray board, was inspired by New York artist Tom Burkhardt’s installation Full Stop (2004-2005) and printed to look like Peg-Board, giving the book a “do-it-yourself” feel that reflected the style of the exhibition. Wood-free uncoated paper was used for the essay, while smooth art paper was used for the plate section. The variety of textures in the book echoed the diverse materials of the exhibition works.
Pulp Fashion is another example of a book whose object quality was inspired by its content. The book, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and DelMonico Books/Prestel, features the intricate and textural paper gowns created by Belgian artist and sculptor Isabelle de Borchgrave.
De Borchgrave’s attention to pattern and print influenced our design of Pulp Fashion. We embossed the cover and end sheets with a motif from her piece Worth evening gown and shoe (1994), and the raised surfaces give the reader a taste of what her gowns might feel like. Incorporating the tactile with the visual enhances the reader’s experience: both of the art within the book and of the book as an object itself.
To get your hands on a copy of Pulp Fashion, visit the online bookstore at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
photography by Jeremy Linden
Three Fragments of a Lost Tale: Sculpture and Story by John Frame reminds us that an exhibition book can be mysterious, enigmatic, and haunting—and satisfy all on its own.
John Frame creates figurative wooden sculptures, each with individual character, motivations, and behaviors. He then constructs elaborate sets and uses his sculptures as actors in stop-action films inspired by classic Czech animators.
Frame is currently working on his final film, The Tale of the Crippled Boy. The project had its beginnings in a dream: Frame was jolted awake by what seemed like an unfolding story complete with cast and scenes. The film is now his next body of work and, he says, may carry him through the remainder of his lifetime.
Marquand Books produced this small book for the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, which showed the exhibition last spring. The book is edited by Kevin M. Murphy and Jessica Todd Smith, features an essay by David Pagel, and presents John Frame’s photography of his sets and sculptures.
Visit John Frame’s website for a rich preview of his astonishing work and be sure to attend the upcoming exhibition at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR, opening February 18.
Photograph by Jeremy Linden