Tag Archives: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Insights into Artist Books

Any regular (or irregular) reader of this blog knows that art and books are important to The Art Caravan.  We’ve looked at a few significant books  and authors  amidst the scores of posts about art.

Artist books seem a match made in heaven, don’t you think?  I mentioned them briefly in this post about the Athenaeum Music & Art Library (speaking of heaven….)   I’ve explored making them, too – creating various structures and enclosures.

If, edition of 5, 2015, intaglio

Intaglio, relief print, marbling, paper cutting

X marks the spot…., 2016, accordion book and clamshell box

If you’d like to know more about artist books, I recommend The Book as Artone of a series of short videos in Insightsfrom the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums in San Francisco.  Also in the series, Iliazd: Publishing as an Art Form,  is a remarkably beautiful ten minute video focusing on Ilia Zdanevich’s fifty years of creating original hand-made books with prominent 20th century artists.

de Young Museum, San Fransisco, T. Vatrt image

May we all be enjoying time this summer reading books.  If you’re looking for suggestions, head to the Good Reads page on this blog.

Libreria Palazzo Roberti, Bassano del Grappa, Italia, T. Vatrt image

We can’t look away anymore

Have you ever seen a work of art that’s almost too difficult to view?  (I am not referring to work that is badly executed, or manipulative, or too clever by half, but an artwork worthy of attention.)

I felt that way when I saw The Hanging Tree by Joe Minter at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

The Hanging Tree, 1996, Joe Minter, welded found steel

The Hanging Tree, 1996, Joe Minter, welded found steel

The museum information label read:

de Young Museum, San Francisco

I was overwhelmed by the historical facts presented.   I focused on the shadows at the base of the artwork, not wanting to accept what I had read, and what was before me.   I attempted to process the information, as I was deeply shocked  by the facts. There were recorded lynchings as recently as 1981???

I was also overwhelmed by the beauty and integrity of the sculpture in response to the brutality suffered – unfathomable events,  repeated hundreds of times, with little or no repercussions to the perpetrators.  And yet – despite these unspeakable acts,  this violent history towards African Americans – Joe Minter says We have went through tribulation, but from that experience we learn patience and develop the strength of hope.

The Hanging Tree (shadow), Joe Minter, 1996, welded found steel

The Hanging Tree (shadow), Joe Minter, 1996, welded found steel

This sculpture was part of the exhibition  Revelations:  Art from the African American South  at the de Young Museum from June 2017 until the end of March 2018.

Even as I write this blog, my heart rate is elevated.  It’s difficult, and challenging to face the reality of our society’s inhumanity and ongoing injustices.  But –  face it, and act to change it  – we must.  We can’t look the other way.