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Re: [BKARTS] Patriot act takes an artist (good!)

At 09:28 AM 09/06/2004 -0400, Edward Stansell wrote:
... Picasso, Pollack, Maplethorpe and others work is fine art, have no
taste of their own, don't know good work when they see
it. ... Anyone could produce such wrk.

Dear Edward,

The point with most of the work you cite is that it was done.  Perhaps you
COULD reproduce the work, but you didn't, and won't.  Or more to the point,
you wouldn't have produced the originals in their place.  Many artists of
their times could have done so.  The same goes for many modern painters,
sculptors, etc.  The same goes for Richard Minsky.  As he notes, his early
bindings didn't start out as particularly difficult craft projects.  Their
noteworthiness was the imagination of the assemblage, and that they were
done in their time at all.  The art is in the conception, the idea, the
juxtaposition of object with context, etc.  Or perhaps the art is in the
minds of the viewers, then as now.

When the National Gallery of Canada acquired Barnett Newman's "Voice of
Fire", there was a big stink about how simple it was and how large the cost
of acquisition.  People of all walks of life, including politicians and
farmers, began buying sheets of plywood and cans of house paint, and
slapping together "reproductions".  Contrariwise, in the National Gallery
there is a room of colour field paintings.  I was amused one day to see
someone standing inches away from a ten foot canvas, minutely scrutinizing
the surface.

In both of my examples, the point is not so much to ridicule the reactions
to these pieces as it is to remind us that these simple ideas are capable
of provoking long after their creation, even though they were created out
of the fabric of their own time, to attempt to capture and convey a
perception which occurred to their creators about the nature of the
exercise itself, in the context of their own, very particular times.  I
think it would be amusing and informative to mount an exhibit of "Voices of
Fire" devoted to the many offspring of that grand vision.

To bring this mild disquisition back to the topic, it seems to me that the
times are particularly ripe for similar comments on the nature of books and
bindings, suitable for book artists and fine binders.  Who reads?  What do
they read?  I produce books of poetry, hand made to look and function
exactly like a trade book.  What is the difference?  Trade books are made
and sold in quantities of tens if not hundreds of thousands.  Ours are made
and sold in quantities of a few tens or hundreds.  Is this art?  I don't
claim it as such, but I perceive that the activity is more akin to art
making than to publishing, a view shared by our Canadian literature
publishing funding bodies.  I think that I shall begin to print in the
colophon of my books this legend:

"This is not a trade book.  Each of these hand made books stands for a
thousand trade books.  If you own this book, you are one in a thousand."

Gavin Stairs Gavin Stairs Fine Editions 525 Canterbury Road London, Ontario Canada N6G 2N5

telephone: (519) 434-8555.
email: stairs@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Gavin Stairs Fine Editions is a small, computer press specializing in book
design and fine, hand-made books.


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                  ENTRY DEADLINE -- September 1, 2004

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