Category Archives: fine press editions

fine press editions

Mapping Greenwich Village Saturday Night

This aerial photograph of Washington Square Park gives a view of “The Row,” the townhouses of wealthy New Yorkers living along Washington Square Park North (Waverly Place). Below are the names of the residents in 1924/25.

“…the most charming square in all New York: De Forest, Rhinelander, Delano, Stewart, De Rham, Gould, Wynkoop, Tailer, Guinness, Claflin, Booth, Darlington, Gregory, Hoyt, Schell, Shattuck, Weekes,—these, and others are still the names of the residents of Washington Square North. Father Knickerbocker, coming to smoke his pipe here, will be in good company, you perceive!”–Anna Alice Chapin, Greenwich Village. Illustrated by Alan Gilbert Cram (2005)

Map annotated by Lew Ney 1925, given to Princeton University Library.

 

 

Lew Ney (born Luther Emanuel Widen, 1886-1963), The Greenwich Village Saturday Night (New York: [Lew New, 1924-1926]. Little Magazines LM GVSN Princeton holdings: Vol.2, no.1 (Nov. 21, 1925); 2 copies- Vol.2, no.3 (April 10, 1926). Gift of Lew Ney.

 

Beginning with September 20, 1924, the Greenwich Village bohemian Lew Ney (pronounced Looney) distributed his neighborhood newsletter entitled The Greenwich Village Saturday Night, written and hand-printed in his cold water studio at 246 West 14th Street (check the map!). Each issue (except v.2, no. 2) included a large, two-page map of the area below 14th street with his commentary on New York history and current residents. Princeton was given four issues by Lew Ney himself and one of the maps is annotated by him [see above], a later copy including these notes in a cleaner version.

 

John Sloan (1871-1951), Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Village, 1923. Etching.

 

1924

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1926

A few details:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulysses Ab Ex

James Joyce (1882-1941) and Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Ulysses; Etchings by Robert Motherwell for Ulysses by James Joyce (San Francisco: Arion Press, 1988). 835 pages, 40 unnumbered leaves of etchings. Copy 142 of 150. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

“An edition of 150 copies for sale and 25 copies hors commerce, with 40 etchings by Robert Motherwell”–Limitation notice, p. [3]./ “Designed by Andrew Hoyem … ten extra printer’s copies are without illustrations and bear modified limitation and title pages”–Colophon./ Forty of the copies for sale and ten of the copies hors commerce are accompanied by an extra suite of twenty-two prints, numbered and signed by the artist. These are contained in a portfolio box (36 cm.)–with a title/limitation leaf: Etchings by Robert Motherwell for Ulysses by James Joyce./ The forty leaves of plates are joined as twenty pairs, tipped together at the fore-edge.

https://vimeo.com/490241884

 


The artist said, “I found Ulysses at a time when I was searching for the key to a vaguely perceived modernist aesthetic that I knew I had to make my own. Joyce served my purposes then and now. If you have taken on the adventure of modernism as I have – and the history of it – there have to be a few prophets to help you when you get discouraged. You go back to them for reinforcement Joyce is permanently on my mind.”

Motherwell’s obsession with Joyce began with a painting titled Ulysses, which dates from the time he was living in East Hampton, New York. It is painted on a piece of cardboard attached to part of a wooden crate.

“The painting is named after James Joyce’s famous modernist novel Ulysses (1922) which Motherwell first read while travelling through Europe in 1935. Joyce’s style of writing, in particular his use of the technique known as ‘stream of consciousness’, had a profound effect on Motherwell, who believed that art should be an expression of the innermost thoughts and feelings of the artist. The art historian Dore Ashton has written: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that [Motherwell’s] discovery of Joyce was as important as his study of Picasso and Matisse, for Joyce revealed to him the infinite potential of free association’ (Dore Ashton, Robert Motherwell, exhibition catalogue, Padiglione d’arte contemporanea, Milan 1989, p.11). https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/motherwell-ulysses-t07137

Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), Ulysses, 1947. Oil paint on cardboard on wood. Tate Modern, London.

Wifredo Lam

By the 1950s, Surrealism had run its course in New York and Berlin. In Paris, short-lived magazines such as Medium; Le Surréalisme, Même; and Bief continued to promote the work of Breton, Péret, Lam, Masson, Tanguy, Leonore Carrington and others.

Two small fine-press poetry volumes were published in 1958 under the Paris imprint Méconnaissance (Misunderstanding), presumably hoping to continue but finding these luxury publications too costly. The first was Ce château pressenti with poetry by Ghérasim Luca (1913-1994) and a frontispiece print by Victor Brauner (1903-1966). The second was La Rose et la Cétoine; La Nacre et le Noir, with poetry by Claude Tarnaud (1922-1991) and a frontispiece etching by Wifredo Lam (1902–1982).

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have added this publication, uncut, and with a hand colored etching by Lam.
Claude Tarnaud and Wifredo Lam, La Rose et la Cétoine. La Nacre et le Noir (Paris, Méconnaissance, 1958). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

“From the only poet to a shining whore,” Samuel Beckett for Henry Crowder to sing.

Photomontage by Man Ray (1890-1976)

Two complementary volumes were recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection, greatly enhancing the fine press holding of Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press and more generally, expanding material on Harlem Renaissance expatriates living in Paris during the 1930s:

Henry Crowder (1890-1955), Henry-Music. Poems by Nancy Cunard, Richard Aldington, Walter Lowenfels, Samuel Beckett, and Harold Acton. Music by Henry Crowder (Paris: Hours Press, 1930). Edition: 100. Cover photomontage by Man Ray. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process. Acquired thanks to funds provided by the Friends of the Princeton University Library.

Anthony Barnett, Listening for Henry Crowder: A Monograph on His Almost Lost Music with the Poems and Music of Henry-Music (Lewes, East Sussex, England: Allardyce Barnett Publishers, 2007). “This 128 page monograph with previously undocumented materials includes an essay, roll/discography, some 90 photos, documents, music, CD insert with rolls and recordings including the Crowder-Cunard composition Memory Blues aka Bouf sur le toit and new recordings by New York vocalist Allan Harris of six compositions by Crowder including his collaboration with Samuel Beckett.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Here is a brief snippet of music by Henry Crowder from Listening for Henry Crowder:

Born in Georgia, the Black jazz pianist Henry Crowder (1890-1955) first met the White shipping heiress Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) in Venice while performing at the Hotel Luna. They fell in love and moved to Cunard’s home outside Paris. Together they converted an old farmhouse in Reanville into a fine press printing studio, called Hours Press, where they set type, designed and printed small editions, and published the work of Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, Norman Douglas, Laura Riding, and others. The young Samuel Beckett won a poetry contest sponsored by the press and became a valued friend.

 

In Cunard’s book These Were the Hours: Memories of My Hours Press, Reanville and Paris, 1928-1931, she writes about their 1930 publication Henry-Music. Richard Aldington, Harold Acton, Walter Lowenfels, and Beckett each gave Crowder poems to be set to music during an August vacation in the village of Creysse. “Nearly everything was written here in the course of four weeks, so that we went back to Paris with the Opus almost finished. … To do the covers Man Ray’s name came to me at once, for he had not only a strong appreciation for African art but for Henry as well. I had known Man Ray and had admired his work for several years.” Crowder later wrote an account of his years spent with Cunard, published posthumously, with almost no mention of this publication.

Princeton’s copy of Henry-Music includes a lengthy inscription from Crowder to Mr. & Mrs. Otto Theis: “Dear friends, if this little effort of mine brings you one moment of pleasure, I assure that I am amply repaid for whatever effort went into the making of it. You two people are realy [sic] nearer to my heart than you may suspect. Probably I am presuming when I say that, but nevertheless the Gods themselves (whoever they are) don’t always know who loves them.”

See also: Henry Crowder, As Wonderful as All That?: Henry Crowder’s Memoir of His Affair with Nancy Cunard, 1928-1935 (Navarro, CA: Wild Tree Press, 1987).

Nancy Cunard, These Were the Hours (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969).

Below is the poem twenty-four years old Samuel Beckett gave Henry Crowder for Henry Music, and above is a snippet of vocalist Allan Harris’s recording. The complete recording is available on our CD included in Listening for Henry Crowder. **It begins very quietly**

From the Only Poet To a Shining Whore
for Henry Crowder to Sing

Rahab of the Holy Battlements,
bright dripping shaft
in the bright bright patient
pearl-brow dawn-dusk lover of the sun.

Puttanina mia!
You hid them happy in the high flax,
pale before the fords
of Jordan, and the dry red waters,
and you lowered a pledge
of scarlet hemp.

Oh radiant, oh angry, oh Beatrice,
she foul with the victory
of the bloodless fingers
and proud, and you, Beatrice, mother, sister, daughter, beloved,
fierce pale flame
of doubt, and God’s sorrow,
and my sorrow.

Hours Press


One of the most interesting small presses to come out of Paris in the 1920s was Hours Press, run by Nancy Cunard (1896-1965), with the assistance of Henry Crowder (1890-1955). Details about the press are recorded by Cunard herself in These were the Hours: memories of my Hours Press, Reanville and Paris, 1928-1931, edited with a foreword by Hugh Ford (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, [1969]).

The British heiress was a popular jazz age beauty, well over six feet tall, she was sought after by many artists including Constantin Brancusi whose bronze sculpture La jeune fille sophistiquée (Portrait de Nancy Cunard) sold in 2018 for $71,000,000.

Cunard settled in Paris at the age of 24, where she published three volumes of poetry in quick succession: Outlaws in 1921, Sublunary in 1923, and Parallax in 1925. Convinced that she could print and publish her own books, Cunard left Paris in 1927 for a house in Réanville, Normandy. There she installed a 200-year-old Belgian Mathieu hand press purchased from Bill Bird of Three Mountains editions. It came with plenty of Caslon Old Face type and Vergé de Rives paper that she happily used for most of her early books. As a printer Cunard was chiefly self-taught although she had some lessons in setting type from Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Her imprint was to be called Hours Press, perhaps a suggestion from Virginia.

Front covers above. Back covers below.

 

Around this time, she also fell in love with Henry Crowder (1890-1955), a Black American jazz musician and lived with him for the next eight years, building the printshop together. “Henry Crowder, . . . had helped in many different ways already . . . Together we folded the sheets into pages as they came off the new Minerva press I had just bought to increase the tempo of our work.” Many friends offered to let Hours Press publish their manuscripts and artists such as Man Ray and Yves Tanguy agreed to design the covers.

In January 1930, they moved their home and printshop back to Paris where Crowder could both print and perform with his jazz band. Under his direction, they also worked on an anthology of African American writing to be called Negro, which soon became an obsession for Cunard. While vacationing in the south of France that summer, Cunard and Crowder turned over the management of the press to Mrs. Wyn Henderson and her young printer John Sibthorpe. This freed Cunard for research and travel to collect work for their anthology but eventually, she had to choose between projects. Hours Press was closed in early 1931 having completed 25 publications.

Cunard published her Negro anthology in 1934, collecting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction primarily by African-American writers, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston along with writing by George Padmore and her own essay on the Scottsboro Boys.

Hours Press books:

1928
Douglas, Norman. Report on the Punice-Stone Industry of the Lipari Islands. June 1928. 80 letterpress copies set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Not for sale.

Moore, George. Peronnik the Fool. December 1928. 200 letterpress signed copies on Vergé de Rives paper set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Sold for £2.

Aldington, Richard. Hark the Herald. December 1928. 100 letterpress signed copies on Vergé de Rives paper, set in 17 pt. Caslon Old Face. Mary blue wrappers. Not for sale.

1929
Guevara, Alvaro. St George at Silene. January 1929. 150 letterpress signed copies on Velin de Rives paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Designed by the author. Sold for 10s, 6d.

Douglas, Norman. One Day. July 1929. 200 signed copies on Velin de Rives, set in monotype. Sold for 3 £3, 3 s. Also 300 copies, Vergé de Vidalon sold £1. 10s

Symons, Arthur. Mes Souvenirs. July 1929. 200 signed copies on Velin de Rives paper. Sold for £2, 2s.

Aragon, Louis. La Chasse au Snark. Early winter. 300 letterpress signed copies on Alfa paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Title on front designed and composed by Aragon. Also 5 copies on Japan paper. 300 copies sold at £1. 1s; 5 copies at £5, 5s.

Aldington, Richard. The Eaten Heart. Late winter 1929. 200 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier set in 16pt. Caslon Old Face. Sold for £1, 1s.

1930
Lowenfels, Walter. Apollinaire. Early 1930. 150 copies signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Cover front and back designed by Yves Tanguy, printed black on daffodil paper boards. Sold for £1, 10s.

MacCown, Eugene. Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings, and Gouaches. Early 1930. 1000 copies set in Caslon old Face Italics on Vergé de Rives paper. Not for sale.

Graves, Robert. Ten Poems More. Early spring 1930. 200 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt Caslon Old Face. Cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £1. 10s.

Riding, Laura. Twenty Poems Less. Spring 1930. 200 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Front and back cover photomontage designed by Len Lye. Sold for £1. 10s.

Riding, Laura. Four Unposted Letters to Catherine. Early summer. 200 signed copies on Haut Vidalon paper set in Garamond Italic type. Front and back cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £2.

Campbell, Roy. Poems. July 1930. 200 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Two drawings by the author. Sold for £1. 10s.

Beckett, Samuel. Whoroscope. Midsummer 1930. 100 signed letterpress copies and 200 not signed, both on Vergé de Rives paper set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Won £10 prize for the best poem on ‘Time.’ Signed sold for 5s; not signed sold for 1s.

Pound, Ezra. A Draft of XXX Cantos. Midsummer 1930. 200 copies not signed on Canson-Montgolfier-Soleil Velin paper and 10 signed (2 of these on vellum) on Texas Mountain paper bound in red leather. Initial letters by Dorothy Shakespear (wife of Pound). 200 copies sold for £2; 10 copies sold for £5, 5s.

Rodker, John. Collected Poems. August 1930. 200 signed copies hand-made paper. Initial lettering by Edward Wadsworth. Front and back cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £1, 10s.

Crowder, Henry. Henry-Music. December 1930. 150 copies signed. Cover photomontage by Man Ray. Sold for 10s, 6d.

1931
Acton, Harold. This Chaos. January 1931. 150 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Front and back cover designed and printed in blue by
Elliott Seabrooke. Sold for £1, 10s.

Aldington, Richard. Last Straws. January 1931. 200 signed copies in green suede cloth boards. 300 not signed copies in grey-brown paper boards. Designed by Douglas Cockerell. Signed copies sold for £2; unsigned copies sold for 7s, 6d.

Howard, Brian. First Poems. January 1931. 150 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Covers designed by John Banting. Sold for £1. 10s.

Brown, Bob. Words. January 1931. 150 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Upper cover designed by John Sibthorpe. Sold for £1, 10s.

Moore, George. The Talking Pine. Early 1931. 500 copies. Not for sale.

Ellis, Havelock. The Revaluation of Obscenity. Spring 1931. 200 signed copies. Blue cloth boards. Sold for £2.

See: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/more-than-a-muse-nancy-cunard/

Zapata from Yolla Bolly Press

If you were very fortunate in the 1980s or 1990s, you got to visit the Yolla Bolly Press, “Publishers of Modern Literature in Fine Press Limited Editions,” in Round Valley, Mendocino County, four hours north of San Francisco, deep in California’s Coast Range mountains. The press, founded by James and Carolyn Robertson, ceased printing/publishing with the death of James Robertson in 2001. Happily, many of their books are still available.


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired Zapata: a narrative, in dramatic form, of the life of Emiliano Zapata written by John Steinbeck with woodcuts by Karin Wikström (Covelo, Calif. : Yolla Bolly Press, 1991). Copy 33/100. Graphic Arts Collection Q-000936 (note: printed with several different colored papers)

 

“This work formed the basis for the screenplay, Viva Zapata!” notes the t.p. verso. Steinbeck’s text is accompanied by: Zapata, the man, the myth, and the Mexican Revolution : commentary on John’s Steinbeck’s narrative by Robert E. Morsberger.

Princeton University Library Forrestal Annex, Reserve PN1997 .V56 1993 c.1; c.2; c.3; c.4

“One hundred copies were printed, of which fifty numbered copies accompany the portfolio version of the Steinbeck narrative” “Forty copies, numbered 11 to 50, have seven handcolored illustrations, an additional Wikström print, a supplemental text, and are enclosed in a portfolio of archival board covered in buckram with bone closures. One hundred ninety copies, numbered 68 to 257, are enclosed in a slipcase of archival board covered with buckram. Copies numbered 1 to 10 and 51 to 67 are reserved for the Press”–Colophon.


Comparing The Seasons 1794 and 1797

James Thomson (1700-1748), The Seasons (Parma, Bodoni, 1794). Printed by Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813). In original orange boards. Graphic Arts Collection F-000132.

 

“Despite the general decline of the folio format in the second half of the century, it was revived for two editions of The Seasons, one of which was an elaborate subscription venture that took four years to complete; the other was commissioned and largely financed by Thomson enthusiast David Steuart, 11th Earl of Buchan. Catering to the upper end of the market, booksellers issued the lavishly illustrated 1797 folio edition, dedicated to the Queen, with engravings by Peltro William Tomkins and Francesco Bartolozzi.

In Italy, Giambattista Bodoni published another luxurious English-language folio edition for an elite clientele in Britain, using his superb type but no illustrations; he primarily targeted a Scottish market for the work because of the growing cult of Thomson that Steuart had fostered early in the 1790s, and aimed at book collectors to purchase his edition. –Brian Hillyard, “David Steuart and Giambattista Bodoni: On the Fringes of the British Book Trade,” in Worlds of Print: Diversity in the Book Trade, edited by John Hinks and Catherine Armstrong (2006), 113-25. 8.

To prepare for a virtual student visit this week, both folio editions of Thomson’s The Seasons were pulled and some pages photographed.

Warren E. Preece wrote a brief commentary on Bodoni, noting “In Italy, Giambattista Bodoni enthusiastically took up the principle of page design as worked out by Baskerville, though not his typefaces. Further modifying the Aldine roman of Garamond, he mechanically varied the difference between the thick and thin strokes of his letters to achieve the ultimate contrast possible in that direction. His letters are rather narrower than those of either Caslon or Baskerville. He exaggerated his thick lines and reduced the thin ones almost—it seems at times—to the point of disappearance. Like Baskerville, he used opulent papers and inks blended for special brilliance.

His pages were not easy to read, but he became, in the words of Stanley Morison, the typographical idol of the man of taste, and his “plain”—though deliberately and artfully contrived—designs were an important factor in the decline in importance of the édition de luxe and its replacement by works more austere in feeling, more modern even to today’s eyes. He set what was, in general, to be the standard book style of the world until the appearance of William Morris. Warren E. Preece, “Typography,” Encyclopædia Britannica

As is widely noted, William Morris considered Bodoni’s mechanical typography an example of “modern ugliness.”

Bodoni also set the standard for printing the alphabet with his Manuale tipografico (1818). The two-volume set features 142 sets of roman and italic typefaces, a wide selection of borders, ornaments, symbols, and flowers, as well as Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Phoenician, Armenian, Coptic, and Tibetan alphabets (Graphic Arts Collection Q-000122).

 

 

 

 

James Thomson (1700-1748), The Seasons. Illustrated with engravings by F. Bartolozzi, R.A. and P.W. Tomkins, historical engravers to Their Majesties; from original pictures painted for the work by W. Hamilton, R.A. (London: Printed for P.W. Tomkins, 1797). Rare Books Oversize 3960.2.38.16f

 

In contrast with Bodoni’s Seasons, a lavish edition of The Seasons was prepared by Peltro William Tomkins, who commissioned paintings by William Hamilton (1751-1801), which were translated to engravings by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) and Peltro William Tomkins (1759-1840). Targeted at the Scottish market, this edition was enthusiastically promoted and sold well into the early 19th century.

Anaïs Nin’s first American Publisher

When Anaïs Nin bought a printing press and set up shop in Greenwich Village, Jimmy Cooney made a number of trips into town to give her printing lessons and publishing advice. Who was he?


In the 1930s, Blanche and James Cooney moved “on the Maverick,” an artists’ colony outside Woodstock, NY, founded by Hervey White in 1905. They had no telephone or indoor plumbing but acquired a full stockpile of metal type and a small hand press. Notices were placed in The New York Times Sunday book review section and the Herald Tribune asking for manuscripts to be published in a new magazine. “We would print it ourselves; it would be the rallying point, through it we would spread the word of a community of separate dwellings and shared land and stock and tools; …We would publish writers whose unpopular or seditious views would have no chance in the commercial press.” It would be called The Phoenix, in honor of D.H. Lawrence.

Henry Miller wrote from Paris that both he and his friend Anaïs Nin would send material, happy that someone welcomed their provocative stories. Each was published in The Phoenix several times before they were forced to leave Paris for New York City.

As soon as Anaïs was settled, she and her husband Hugh Guiler (Hugo) made a pilgrimage to meet the Cooneys and the press that was not afraid to publish her work. Anaïs’s famous diaries do not mention of this trip, probably because Hugo asked her not to write about him and she agreed. However, the visit is chronicled in Blanche Cooney’s autobiography:

“In 1940, on her return from Europe, Anaïs came to Woodstock with her husband Hugh Guiler to stay with us for a few days. She wanted to meet her first American publisher, we wanted to meet the fabled Etre Étoilique [Miller’s 1937 short story about Anaïs]. A great pleasure to look at, she moved like the dancer she was, a fluid supple line in a dress of purple wool. . . Hugo—Anaïs called him Hugo and he said we were also to call him Hugo—was the banker, an international banker. A tall lean Scotsman, gentle, handsome, he deferred to Anaïs, his adored one, his indulged one. No whim, no quirk, no passion, or bizarre appetite would he deny her, Yes to a houseboat on the Seine, Yes to the Miller connection, to a fling with a woman, an English poet, a Peruvian Indian, Yes….

Hugo, Anaïs said, will be studying engraving with Stanley Hayter at the New School. Hugo had a definite talent; he will do the covers and illustrations for her books, she said; they will find a printer and publish privately. “my text and Hugo’s decorations.” Anaïs smiled into Hugo’s eyes with intimate secret reference. The visit went well, no explosions, no denunciations . . . .”–Blanche Cooney, In My Own Sweet Time (Ohio: Swallow Press, 1993). Z473 .C755 1993

The Phoenix ([Haydenville, Mass.: Morning Star Press, 1938-1984.]). Vol. 1, no. 1 (Mar./May 1938)-v. 9, no. 3 & 4 (1984). AP2 .P464

Natashia Troubetskoia, Anaïs Nin, ca. 1932. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Want to know more? Please join us at 2:00 p.m. on September 25, 2020 for the fifth in our series of webinars highlighting the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University. Register for free here: https://libcal.princeton.edu/event/6949414

 

The history of the Maverick: https://player.vimeo.com/video/11435652

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press

Please join us at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2020, for the fifth in our series of live webinars highlighting material in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University Library. Recently we acquired most of the rare letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Best known for her diaries, Nin also wrote fiction with themes of history, feminism and multiculturalism. Together with Gonzalo More, one of her many lovers, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she taught herself to set type, stood for hours pumping a treadle press, and distributed her books with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Many were illustrated with original etchings by her husband, Hugh Parker Guiler, a banker who used the pseudonym Ian Hugo so his colleagues would not discover he was also an artist.

They called the imprint Gemor Press (pronounced G. More) after Gonzalo, although it was Anaïs who raised the money and did most of the physical work. Located first on MacDougal Street and later at 17 East 13th Street where the small building she rented still stands. After a close look at the books and prints, we are fortunate to be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will update us on their efforts to landmark this building, as well as other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

This session is free and open to all. To register: click here

Here is the complete series of past and future webinars highlighting material in Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection

New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut. May 22, 2020
To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest surviving print from Colonial America, we assembled all five extent copies of the portrait of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) by or after John Foster. Julie Mellby was joined by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints and Associate Librarian for Collection Care and Development, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask. June 26, 2020
This program was chosen specifically for June, LGBTQ pride month and this year, the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride march. Both Walt Whitman and Thomas Eakins, in their own way, broke down barriers around sex, sexuality, and the celebration of the human body. Presented by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, and Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum.

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler. July 31, 2020
This month focused on the speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of author Octavia E. Butler. Julie Mellby was joined by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the award winning team who produced the graphic novel adaptations of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. August 26, 2020
The fourth in our series celebrated the centenary of the 19th amendment on Women’s Equality Day. Julie Mellby was joined by Lauren Santangelo, author of Suffrage and the City and lecturer in Princeton University’s Writing Program, along with Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement within Scholarly Collections and Research Services at Princeton University Library.

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press. September 25, 2020
For the fifth in our series we highlight the recently acquired letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Together with Gonzalo More, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she printed and published fine press books, distributed with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Julie Mellby will be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will talk about efforts to landmark the Gemor Press building and other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

 

Maya Angelou and John T. Biggers

https://achievement.org/achiever/maya-angelou/

Maya Angelou (1928-2014), Our Grandmothers. Lithographs by John T. Biggers (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1994). Lithographs and letterpress. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process


She stands
before the abortion clinic,
confounded by the lack of choices.
In the Welfare line,
reduced to the pity of handouts.
Ordained in the pulpit, shielded
by the mysteries.
In the operating room,
husbanding life.
In the choir loft,
holding God in her throat.
On lonely street corners,
hawking her body.
In the classroom, loving the
children to understanding.

Centered on the world’s stage,
she sings to her loves and beloveds,
to her foes and detractors:
However I am perceived and deceived,
however my ignorance and conceits,
lay aside your fears that I will be undone,

for I shall not be moved.
–Maya Angelou, Last stanzas from “Our Grandmothers” first published in I Shall Not Be Moved (1990).

When Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson) agreed to allow her poem “Our Grandmothers”  be used in a Limited Editions Club publication, she asked that it “be illustrated by her favorite artist, John T. Biggers, an internationally acclaimed muralist and printmaker. …And now, for the Maya Angelou poem, Biggers has created five monumental lithographs that synthesize his concepts for the soul of Black Africa and its American reincarnation, of ancient myth and contemporary reality.” [-prospectus]. In planning his contribution to the book, Biggers used several elements from his 1992 triptych entitled “Family Arc,” seen above.

Originally published in her fifth poetry book, I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), the poem’s 1994 printing had a limited run of 400 numbered copies signed by both the author and the artist. It was one of the largest-format books (17 3/4 x 22 inches) ever issued by the Club.

“Angelou had written four autobiographies and published four other volumes of poetry up to that point. Angelou considered herself a poet and a playwright and her poetry has also been successful, but she is best known for her seven autobiographies, especially her first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She began, early in her writing career, of alternating the publication of an autobiography and a volume of poetry. …[She grew up] with their grandmother in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, the young girl experienced the racial discrimination that was the legally enforced way of life in the American South, but she also absorbed the deep religious faith and old-fashioned courtesy of traditional African American life. She credits her grandmother and her extended family with instilling in her the values that informed her later life and career. She enjoyed a close relationship with her brother. Unable to pronounce her name because of a stutter, Bailey called her “My” for “My sister.” A few years later, when he read a book about the Maya Indians, he began to call her “Maya,” and the name stuck.
https://achievement.org/achiever/maya-angelou/

An unsigned obituary for John T. Biggers, published on January 29, 2001 in the Washington Post, mentioned their collaboration, describing him as ”a pioneering black muralist who became known for the epic sweep of his work in profiling the African American experience.” The piece continues:

“Dr. Biggers, who lived in Houston, founded the art department of what is now Texas Southern University in Houston in 1949. He directed the department and served on its faculty until retiring in 1983 to devote his time to his artwork. He had gained national attention in 1943, when his mural “Dying Soldier” was included in the landmark exhibition “Young Negro Art” in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. After he settled in Houston, his artwork, which was inspired by Mexican political muralists, became part of the very landscape of Lone Star schools and businesses.

…In 1994, he illustrated Maya Angelou’s poem “Our Grandmothers.” She had said that his art “functions as delight and discovery. He sees our differences and celebrates them. And in so doing, he allows the clans of the world to come together in respectful appreciation.”