18 April 2015

Book and Bard

It arrived on Wednesday, much anticipated - yet I've hardly had a moment to look at it.

Flipping through, I'm struck anew by Franz Kline - love those dark lines, the resulting negative spaces -
and near the end is -
yes, a stitched work! - and it plays with the idea of people always needing to see the back of stitched work...
Dredging the photo archive a while back, I found a photo of that page, taken while looking at the book in the college library, and tried to find information on the artist, Joellen Bard. She was active in the 1960s and 70s, in the predigital era, so there was very little to find, other than what is in the book -

"Joellen Bard (Contemporary American). Sewn Xerox Series #1, 1979. Xerox print with hand-sewn thread (Number 6 in a series of 7), each 8 1/2" x 11" (22 x 28 cm). Courtesy Pleiades Gallery, New York. Photo: Mort Greenspun.

"Bard has experimented with a vast array of materials and means for making marks, from drawing on acetate with ink to this current series in which her lines are not drawn but sewn with needle and thread on canvas. [Note the need for clarifying what sewing is, and that it's on "canvas" so within the realm of art!]

"Her 'image' is generally rows upon rows of horizontal 'lines,' but to create this photocopy print, she turned the sewn canvas to the reverse side, which contains all of the ends of her thread. These ends create a completely different and accidental or 'found' image unlike the intentional one she had produced on the other side. A print was taken of this reverse side and then six rectangular areas of the paper were hand stitched with real thread (which in this reproduction appears slightly greyer and more solid). [You can just about see the solid areas in the photo above.]

"Bard also took photocopy prints of the 'correct' side, the character of which is completely and totally unlike this one. 207 Hours is the name that she gave to another free-hanging, 4' x 6' (1.2 x 1.8 m) field of canvas she had sewn horizontally with row after row of tiny black stitches, because that is how long it took her to complete this compulsive project."

Bard, born in 1942, put together an exhibition, "Tenth Street Days: the co-ops of the 1950s" - after 1953, the second and third generation Abstract Expressionist artists came to live and work near Tenth Street, New York City, and founded and ran a number of co-op galleries. Pleiades Gallery, source of the Xerox Series image, was one of them and is still going. The records of the exhibition, shown in Dec 1977-Jan 1978, are in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonial Institution.

Back to the book, which was published in 1980 ... it was Katherine Tyrrell's review of it - or rather, of the reissue, the 30th anniversary edition, that got me ordering it. So far I've read just one page, the foreword, in which Kaupelis says -

"If a student does not know the meaning of values or how to produce a broad range of them with a variety of materials, I thoroughly believe that he [or she!] should acquire this knowledge at once."

This will have to be a little project, producing a range of values with a variety of materials, and then the reading of the book can continue.

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