a new kind of book l.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
A New Kind of Book PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
A New Kind of Book

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 28

A New Kind of Book - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Download Presentation
A New Kind of Book
An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript

  1. A New Kind of Book The (Strange) Case of William Blake

  2. Blake: Reproductive Engraver and Illustrator • Designed and engraved illustrations for commercial publication • Edward Young, Night Thoughts • Designed images, but engraved by others • Robert Blair’s “The Grave” • Created water color illustrations to poetry • Commissioned work for private collections and published books. • As usual in his work as an illustrator of other poets' works, Blake paid close attention to the text, but this disciplined approach did not preclude his own interpretations. • Milton’s “Paradise Lost” • Dante’s “Divine Comedy” • Robert Blair’s “The Grave”

  3. Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1797) • Designed and engraved illustrations for commercial publication • Executed 537 water colors • Began by gluing pages from the first and second editions of the poem onto large backing sheets, positioned slightly off-center so as to create a lower margin greater than the upper and an outer margin greater than the inner, as in most letterpress books. Blake filled these large marginal spaces with his designs--a format retained in the published engravings with the letterpress text of the poem printed in a central framed panel. • Blake then etched and engraved a selection of forty-three designs illustrating the first four Nights. • These were published in 1797 as the first of four intended folio volumes. • Before any further volumes could be produced, Edwards closed his publishing business.

  4. Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1797) • Etched and engraved • Uncolored • Private collection

  5. Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1797) • Etching and engraving with hand coloring in water colors • 1 of at least 27 copies with contemporary hand coloring. • The same palette appears to have been used for most copies, but the placement of the colors varies somewhat among copies. Such variation is not characteristic of the commercial hand coloring of the late eighteenth century in which a model is followed very closely.

  6. In October 1805, Blake was commissioned by the engraver and would-be publisher Robert H. Cromek to prepare forty drawings illustrating Robert Blair's “The Grave” (1743). • Cromek planned to select twenty of these designs for a de luxe edition of the poem. • Blake etched one image, but Cromek rejected it. • November 1805, Cromek announced that Louis Schiavonetti would engrave 12 designs for the new edition. • Pen and ink and water colors over traces of pencil • Multiple owners Robert Blair, “The Grave” (1805)

  7. William Blake: inventor • Luigi Schiavonetti: engraver • Etching and engraving • Private collection Robert Blair, “The Grave” (1805)

  8. Robert Blair, “The Grave” (1805)

  9. Illuminated Printing: Self-Advertising In his 1793 “Prospectus,” Blake describes a method of printing he calls “illuminated printing”: The Labours of the Artist, the Poet, the Musician, have been proverbially attended by poverty and obscurity; this was never the fault of the Public, but was owing to a neglect of means to propagate such works as have wholly absorbed the Man of Genius. Even Milton and Shakespeare could not publish their own works. This difficulty has been obviated by the Author of the following productions now presented to the Public; who has invented a method of Printing both Letter-press and Engraving in a style more ornamental, uniform, and grand, than any before discovered, while it produces works at less than one fourth of the expense. If a method of printing which combines the Painter and the Poet is a phenomenon worthy of public attention, provided that it exceeds in elegance all former methods, the Author is sure of his reward.

  10. Illuminated Printing: Process • Relief etching • “Blake wrote texts and drew illustrations with pens and brushes on copper plates in acid-resistant ink and, with nitric acid, etched away the unprotected metal to bring the composite design into printable relief” (Viscomi). • “He printed the plates in colored inks on a rolling press and tinted most impressions in watercolors” (Viscomi).

  11. Illuminated Printing: Songs of Innocence • 1789 • William Blake: author, inventor, delineator, etcher, printer, colorist • Catherine Blake: printer • Relief etching, with some white-line etching, and hand coloring

  12. Illuminated Printing: Songs of Innocence • 1789 • William Blake: author, inventor, delineator, etcher, printer, colorist • Catherine Blake: printer • Relief etching, with some white-line etching, and hand coloring

  13. Illuminated Printing: Songs of Innocence • 1789 • William Blake: author, inventor, delineator, etcher, printer, colorist • Catherine Blake: printer • Relief etching, with some white-line etching, and hand coloring

  14. Illuminated Printing: The Book of Thel • 1789 • William Blake: author, inventor, delineator, etcher, printer, colorist • Catherine Blake: printer • Relief etching with and hand coloring

  15. 1789 1818

  16. Illuminated Printing: Process • “Illuminated printing was not mysterious, complex, or difficult. The pens, brushes, and liquid medium enabled Blake to design directly on copper plates as though he were drawing on paper, which in turn encouraged him to integrate text and illustration on the same page” (Viscomi). • “Technically, such integration was possible in conventional (intaglio) etching…but the economics of publishing had long defined etching as image reproduction and letterpress as text reproduction, so that the conventional illustrated book was the product of much divided labor, with illustrations produced and printed in one medium and shop and separately inserted into leaves printed elsewhere in letterpress on a different kind of press” (Viscomi).

  17. Illuminated Printing: Artistic Control • “Whether Blake used relief or intaglio, as author illustrating and printing himself, he would have united the various stages of book production, obtaining control over the production of his illustrated text the same way he did as a graphic artist over his own images” (Viscomi). • “The tools of drawing and sketching, though, freed him to think in new ways, to unite invention and execution in ways defeated by conventional printmaking” (Viscomi). • “Moreover, the idea that an artist’s first and spontaneous thoughts are most valuable because they are closest to the original creative spark, often obliterated by high finishing, had become very popular in the late eighteenth century, creating a taste for drawings and sketches and motivating printmakers to invent techniques to reproduce them in facsimile and to simulate their various textures (e.g., chalk, crayon, pen and wash)…” (Viscomi).

  18. Illuminated Printing: Not Traditional Engraving • Reproductive engravings “were carefully executed with needles, roulettes (a textured wheel used to roughen the plate’s surface to produce tonalities), and other metal tools, their spontaneity a crafted illusion” (Viscomi). • “Blake, on the other hand, by actually using the tools and techniques of writing and drawing, had solved the technical problem of reproducing pen and brush marks in metal. He created a multi-media site where poetry, painting, and printmaking came together in ways both original and characteristic of Romanticism’s fascination with spontaneity and the idea of the sketch” (Viscomi).

  19. Illuminated Printing: Backwards Text • “Because the printed image mirrors the plate image, Blake rewrote his text backwards” (Viscomi). • “With no designs to transfer or reproduce, the placement and extent of text, letter size, line spacing, as well as placement and extent of illustration, were invented only during execution” (Viscomi).

  20. Illuminated Printing: Main Features • Time consuming process, but faster than engraving. • Merges text and image together in process of creation/reproduction. • Controls the process: designs pages, makes inks & watercolors, prints own designs…but also welcomed accidents. • Collaborative process. • Could print on both sides of the paper. • Could color print plates. • Doesn’t look printed: • “The unframed text and image looked written and drawn rather than printed, a unique rather than a repeatable image, an illusion further enhanced by colored inks and watercolor finishing” (Viscomi).

  21. Illuminated Printing: Image Reproduction…or Unique Objects? • “Making each impression exactly repeatable (as one would expect of books and prints) was not really possible when working by hand with an assistant” (Viscomi). • “While each copy produced was a unique work of art, most impressions printed and colored at the same time do not differ very much; they share printing style, colors, coloring style, and even placement of colors. Making each impression very different would have required more labor and time, and, given the objective of producing multiple copies of books “at less than one fourth of the expense,” would have been inefficient” (Viscomi). • “Books printed in different periods, though, were also printed and colored in different styles and are visually very different. Overt differences among copies, in other words, usually reveal different periods and styles of production and not revision of the particular work” (Viscomi).

  22. Illuminated Printing: Success or Failure? • From the perspective of book publishing, Blake’s illuminated books were produced as fine “limited editions” (i.e. these are NOT the cheap picture books Ivins is talking about). • They were not invented to secure financial independence, and they didn’t. • And though Blake stated that his method cut production costs (primarily by his not paying for labor, manuscript, or design), it was a labor intensive, not cost effective, and mostly underwritten by his commercial work. • Printing relief-etched plates was not difficult, but slow compared to printing books in the standard way. Considering how few copies Blake could produce during the “run,” we can see why he felt that he was “never…able to produce a Sufficient number for a general Sale by means of a regular Publisher,” and why the books proved “unprofitable enough to [him] tho Expensive to the Buyer.” • But from the perspective of an artist accustomed to producing unique works, illuminated books provided wider audiences and greater opportunities to make his reputation… • More freedom and control over his work.

  23. How are we supposed to see Blake? • As reproductive engraver… • As inventor of new techniques… • As (financial) failure… • As visual artist… • As DIY zinester • Make magazine article • makezine.com how-to • Watcha mean, what’s a zine? • As poet… • “Initially, all his books were sold in shillings, not pounds, priced as poetry rather than as colored prints or small paintings” (Viscomi). • “It is to be noted that the appreciation of Blake’s work has been confined in the largest measure to persons of bookish tastes rather than of visual tastes and experiences…” (Ivins 101).

  24. The Digital Blake • “Until the late twentieth century there was no base of knowledge and technology sufficient to conceive, much less execute, an adequate comprehensive edition of the work of a multimedia artist. The dominant tradition of Blake editing has been overwhelmingly literary. The historical Blake, a printmaker and painter by training who added poetry to his list of accomplishments, has been converted, editorially, into a poet whose visual art is acknowledged but moved off to the side where it becomes largely invisible…” (The William Blake Archive). • “Methodologically, the William Blake Archive is an attempt to restore historical balance through the syntheses made possible by the electronic medium” (The William Blake Archive).

  25. “The Sick Rose”Songs of Innocence and Experience 2008 Wikipedia 1885 ed. Joseph Skipsey 1874 ed. R. H. Shepherd O rose, thou art sick! The invisible worm That flies in the night In the howling storm Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy, And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy.

  26. Illuminated Printing: Songs of Innocence and Experience 1795 1818 1826

  27. O rose, thou art sick! The invisible worm That flies in the night In the howling storm Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy, And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy.

  28. The Digital Blake • Advantages of digital editions • Allow access to fragile documents located all over the world • “Unlimited” space for critical apparatus • Reunites text and image in Blake • Texts and images are searchable • Disadvantages of digital editions • Loss of the art work’s aura (in Benjamin’s terms) • Limit to what can be displayed in a transcript (e.g. partial letters, backwards writing, overlapping image and text) • Difficult to navigate