Friday, January 27, 2012

Featured Item of the Week: Works by Gunnar Kaldewey

Changing Waters. Part 1: The Hudson

Instead of having a single featured item this week, we have chosen to highlight the renowned publisher and book artist Gunnar Kaldewey, who printed his 75th artist book, titled "AT 75," this past year.

Asia America Europe
Kaldewey and the Bromers have had a long relationship. Kaldewey began his career as an antiquarian bookseller based in Germany and New York, but found his true calling as a printer and publisher. He has been producing unusual, often multi-media artist's books at his studio in Poestenkill, NY since the mid-1980s. In 1987, he designed a catalog for us showcasing a collection of miniature books in designer bindings, which garnered a certificate of merit from the Printing Industries of America's 1988 Graphic Arts Awards Competition.

 Kaldewey's books often employ unusual typography, layers of various kinds of hand-made paper, and unconventional shapes and bindings. Asia America Europe (1994) explores three extremely tall buildings, one on each of the continents: The Longhua Pagoda of China, the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany. In order to convey the sense of height, Kaldewey silk screened images of the buildings onto separate, hanging scrolls that can be unrolled alongside the text.

In an article about an exhibition of Kaldewey's work at Harvard's Houghton Library in 1990, Anne Anninger, former Curator of Graphic Arts, is quoted as saying that Kaldewey combines the tradition of the livre d'artiste, or artists' book, with fine letterpress printing. In doing so, "he creates a tension between the traditional mode and the very experimental mode," resulting in "something very handsome and exciting." In addition, many of his works incorporate sound recordings, creating a complete, multi-sensory experience. In The Desert (1987), seven black & white etchings of desert landscapes are accompanied by two tapes: one a recording of the sounds of the desert during the day, and the other of the desert at night (view a video of this book here). Kaldewey also recreated the atmosphere of a Japanese pachinko parlor in his book Pachinko: A Nine Minute Dream (1999), a video of which is included below.

Other works by Kaldewey focus more on the tactile experience of the book. In Insect Musicians (2001), each printed page is separated by a soft, transparent paper "netting"  flecked with gold and silver leaf, which is decorated with little insects printed in black and brushstrokes of green and yellow. These "netting" pages layer over the text pages with a beautiful delicacy, allowing the text to become part of the illustration. A video of the book can be viewed at the bottom of the page. Using a different approach, Kaldewey brings together subject and form in Dreams of a Butterfly (1995), which, when opened, takes on the shape of the butterfly. Bun-Ching Lam, Kaldewey's partner, did the Chinese calligraphy and English translation of the text, which was written by the fourth-century Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu.

Dreams of a Butterfly

For more information about these items and other works by Gunnar Kaldewey, please visit our website. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to sharing more of our hidden treasures with you next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment