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Cute but stupid

>Imaginatioin without skill gives us modern art.<

If anything endangers the future of the book arts, it would be taking this
as anything more than an outdated joke.

Yesterday I was at Bill de Kooning's funeral. St. Luke's church in East
Hampton was filled with a generation of artists who triumphed over the
ignorance and closed vision that gave rise to comments like the Stoppard
quote (which, as part of a standup comedy routine in Las Vegas 30 years ago,
may have been amusing). At yesterday's gathering those who participated in
and were influenced by the revolution in visual art which began in New York
in the 1940's paid their final respects to the artist who was at the center
of it all.

There are people today who still say "my 2-year old can paint better than
that," and who just don't get it -- they think "modern art" is not based on
skill. I don't pity those individuals-- I just don't have time for them.

25 tears ago I was up against this sort of attitude in the conservative
world of bookbinding. Unless the craft skill was applied in a way that was
familiar to the establishment, they couldn't see it. You had to do things
the way they knew, or it was "bad craft" or "sloppy." They didn't have the
concept or understanding that you could learn a craft technique, and then
not use it because it was not appropriate in the expression of the metaphor
of the immediate work. Or that you could change it so that the skill was not

And the main reason for this philistine attitude was ignorance. Most of the
book establishment knew nothing of art. This is less true today, but then I
only found one person who understood both bookbinding and art-- Polly
Lada-Mocarski (who is now 94 and recovering from a broken hip). Many of the
people on this list know what an inspiration and support Polly has been for
contemporary bookbinding. If you want to read a story about how things were
in 1975 it's at <http://minsky.com/birdstxt.htm>

Today there are many people who are working at bookbinding as craft and art.
Read "Innovation from Tradition in the Book Arts" by Richard Minsky.
_American Craft_, October/November, 1993.

Beware of uptight reactionary bibliophiles, and the hacks who provide them
with product for their collections. They will try to undermine anything
beyond their comprehension in an effort to make their view more valuable.


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