18 March 2012


Rubbings - frottage is the arty term for a simple process. Getting texture from one surface onto another. Graphite is good - so is a wax candle, and then adding ink, paint or dye. What prompts me to write about it is seeing this -
by John Wolesey (seen here), which in its scritchy-scratchy marks - little incursions of time, or a map being formed - is so delicate, in comparison to this -
a rubbing of the smashed car mirror I found on the street the other morning. [Breaking a mirror is, traditionally, seven years' bad luck... is there a superstition about finding, rescuing, a broken one?] I think of the black rubbing as stifling the reflections, trying to mend the cracks - but when you remove the "bandage", lift up the paper, the cracks are still there and any reflection is as crazed as ever.

Max Ernst's "Forest and Sun" (from MOMA) shows what frottage can be in the hands of a master -
Another by Ernst - "The Entire City" -
And one of many gravestone rubbings -
that of poet John Keats, in this case. 

Fiber artist Susan Lenz makes quilts (with interesting backings) of grave rubbings -

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