Monday, May 31, 2010

Cat Ladying--it was only a matter of time.

So today I bought a ceramic cat.

Really, it's a pepper shaker. I don't know how old it is, as much of a midcentury wunderkind collector as I am, I don't know a goddamn thing about salt & pepper shakers. I think they're, generally, kind of a stupid thing to collect.
(me? judge people for irrational collecting? Ask me how many copies of Lolita I have. Ask me how many times I've read Lolita.*)

It's got a "Japan" sticker, placing it after 1952 ('cause it's not "occupied Japan," you know), and I don't think it's that old anyway.

I have to wonder, was the salt shaker white? Or were they designed for black-cat enthusiasts?

No matter, I just initiated my destiny of Cat Ladihood. As if my tapestries hadn't already marked me, I actually didn't own any ceramic cats. Until today. It was five cents at a garage sale.

Did that nickel make me more or less a caricature? A pepper shaker is really just too perfect of a geriatric cliche , right? Though I swear I'm an old person, I'll never be that old, salt-and-pepper-shaker old. ( But then, I did photograph my ceramic cat with my actual cat.) Yesterday, I was pointed towards the horizon. Today I am picnicking on the mountain. It's a whole new journey for me from now on.

Look at squid. She looks like she thinks she's being replaced for a slimmer model.

*Answers: 1) maybe three or so, two of which are the same edition, but one's a later printing of that edition, but it's in better condition, so I just had to keep all of them.
2) never. I actually can't even read. True story.

Friday, May 28, 2010

1960 or so

Shish Kabobs and Royal-Ironstone "StarGlow"

Kuhlman in New Motion Picture Technology

I was googlin' about for a good page of Roy Kuhlmans to link to, and I stumbled on Gwarizm, a very excellent blog that features this page of Kuhlman-ing. He's interested mostly in the Beckett covers, and he features a lot of great covers that are hard to find around the web. I own a few of them, covet the rest. A few I've never seen--and I've seen lots of Kuhlmans.

He mentions Obscene, the documentary about Barney Rosset. It's a film I've wanted to see anyway: Of course, it's about the owner of Grove Press which, in my world, is the publishing company. Even if it wasn't for my lubsession with Mr. Kuhlman's covers and all things Evergreen, I mean, we're talking about the man who fought to publish Lady Chatterly and Tropic of Cancer. As a Person Who Doesn't Read All That Often, I love reading Henry Miller. A champion of perfect book design and raunchy modern literature? A man after my heart!

But now, I have to see this film. He features screen captures from a segment in the film where Alex Meillier animates Roy Kuhlman's covers. I don't know what to expect, other than dying of excitement! I'm renting the film soon, I'll give feedback and look around for the clip itself.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Guide to Well Designed Products: Pt. 1(?): Essences: Motherwell & Lustig: Modernism & Abstraction: Form

"On the book jacket, the essence of the book is translated by means of type selection, color and significant form into an immediate visual impression."
From "Alvin Lustig: His Work" in Everyday Art Quarterly, Spring 1950.
(I don't know who wrote this one.)
"The design of a book is an extremely subtle problem; as compared with the design of a magazine, it suggests rather the workings of a string quartet than those of a symphony orchestra. It involves a series of delicate relationships such as type selection, scale of type to the page, area of type on the page, width of margins, proportions of the book, choice of paper. These and similar nuances add up to a total that somehow must seem organically related to the material."
-Alvin Lustig, poet of margin, type & line
From his essay "Contemporary Book Design: 1" in Design Quarterly No. 31, 1954.
(I don't know if it's available for free on the internet, but I would highly recommend you hunt it down, oh faithful lovers of eloquent lines)

"The attitudes towards the surface on which the artist works, the use of the multiple axis, the breaking of the classical frame, new concepts of space--all of the working vocabulary of the contemporary architect, designer, painter or sculptor--have made their way, slowly and painfully, into the art of book design."
Hells yes, Alvin Lustig! You break that classical frame!

I love it when artists are so sincere and emotional when they write about things like margins and size-of-type.

Robert Motherwell, "Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 57," 1957-60

Read: Robert Motherwell's "On the Humanism of Abstraction," which isn't available on the internet to my knowledge but which is well excerpted here. Motherwell, being that eloquent master of, well, humanism and abstraction; that sincere and beautiful and ever-honest seer and prophet and voice of brutish nonfigural Gods like Pollock and so-on; his ideas are so applicable to us lovers of forms and lovers of things.

Let's talk about that.

Tavi & Terry

Tavi Gevinson wrote about the Terry Richardson Controversy (and the Do Terry Richardson's Photos Suck Controversy) better than I did.

Girrl knows what she's doing. I don't think I've read any better condemnation or discussion or musing on power-relations in fashion than her original post on the subject.
"It's fun! Uncle Terry said it's fun and everyone likes it!" Know who didn't say it's fun and everyone likes it? The people who had the opposite of fun and did not like it at all!
I wish I could be as great as she is.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Graphic design: visual comparisons

I went to some book sales today. At one, I'm sure a graphic designer donated a lot of books, most of which I bought. You know, I frequently buy whole collections that belonged to people I never knew.

I will romanticize said probable-designer for a long time, just like I have mental ideas about the owners of all of my stamped mid-century lit crit books (the most beautiful books I own), or the set of 25 or so Time Reading Program editions I bought all at once, or even all of the Ian Fleming pulps that we bought (they were all the same edition, 17th printing) and then sold because we got sick of Ian Fleming pulps.

For the moment, a few of my discoveries:

Problem Schmoblem

Bought some new books today. Squid does not approve.

"I paint with shapes" - Alexander Calder

I went to Grand Rapids last night, this is the best I could get in a downpour driving by with the windows up. It's La Grande Vitesse, and you can still feel its force even through this, right? Alexander Calder, one-and-only.

Here's how it looks in full:


She loves books, too. NOT.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Terry & Tom & Juergen & Marc & Lola & Me

Lily Donaldson for Terry Richardson in Peter Pilotto, I don't know what season, from Vogue, I don't remember when

So I had a dream about Terry Richardson. We were somewhere, doing something, I guess I was a model. There were other models. We were shooting, but eventually he got all Terry-Richardson-style-creepass on me, was chasing me around, giant prosthetic penis, you know, the usual. (Follow some of the TR controversy here).

The best part was the other model. It was like we were in on some secret together: yeah, we know Uncle Terry is a creepster. And we know this is all a sham, but we were powerful and cooler than everyone else and knew exactly what we were willing to do. (It reminded me of the relationship between Esther and Doreen early on in The Bell Jar, which probably isn't a coincidence, since I had just finished it that night.) I love that about models--the best of them are interesting and sophisticated and quietly aware, and in solidarity.

He was praising us, we were just standing there (I remember thinking, when do I tell him I'm not really even a model?). Until I made the wrong face or something, then he kept saying my name over and over again like, "Come on, now," like a dentist when you're a kid and you won't sit still. Or like your parents, when you're a kid and you won't sit still. Or when they're just disappointed in you.

So I rolled my eyes at him. And at that moment something glamorous must have happened and he said, "You're witnessing a genius in action." And I said--here's the real best part, the most badass thing I've never done--"Whatever, I like Juergen Teller better."

So Juergen Teller & Terry Richardson, and their associates, that's what this post is about.

back to something beautiful

Homemade Pierogies & Turquoise Mel-a-Mine.

Object Wrath, Object Envy, Object Pride, Object Gluttony, Object Greed, but never Object Sloth

I hate you for already using the column title "Object Lust." I don't even think you understand what it really means. No, Provencal parfum and organic groceries and Netflix are not the same. You will never know what Object Lust really is, the way a wide-set paperback can give me arrhythmia or that just-so coral lampshade or the Cold-War-Red enamel on that bracelet, 1965 maybe but not 1967. The perfect image and feel and meaning of every goddamn thing I own. No, no, you will never understand Object Lust like I do,, and it isn't fair.

I need a new catchy phrase.

From here on, this blog is a battle to prove that I, in fact, rightfully am owed that titled. Watch it,


Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Poetry

Just an '81 Bantam edition

I don't really like Sylvia's poems--not really even "Ariel," or "Lady Lazarus," or "Daddy" or any of the famous ones. I'm a 21 year old woman and I just read The Bell Jar. I've read Catcher 7 times but I've only just read the Bell Jar. It's embarrassing--and here I'm publicizing it. It took me all these years to become the cliché I already was anyway, and, what do you know? I loved it to such a personal degree that I can't even really talk about it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

America's Quality Paperback Series

Now, some titles from the Scribner Library.

For That Not-Quite Coral, or, all those yr-to-yr details we die for

I will work on the layout. It's a little too Campbell's Pop, which is to say not my kind of Pop. But I'm working on it.

It's the red, right? Let's talk about the color red. Tell me you can tell that that isn't Warhol's red as much as it's that indeterminate red red that belongs, universally, to the 1950s. That red that maybe became a mod poppy red over the course of the 1960s (Notably, like beloved Pacific Southwest Airlines girls, 1973). Or maybe like Calder red, the most loving (and mid-century) color around. There is that color that is unmistakably "vintage," the color of Modernism. And it looks great on books.

So let's talk about some of those Cold-War-Not-Quite-Coral Calderesque red red books.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Through the Keyhole, a lovesong to NC1882 .P73 2001

When I was working in the art library I saw the due date was in October. Months ago. I don't know who you are but your lending period tells me that you are faculty or graduate. Are there art history graduate students? Not now, I don't think. And surely anyone disserting, or whatever, about book covers would have been introduced to me. No, no, likely you're a professor. Probably not even an art professor or a lit professor, probably just sosh or food science or something. You just have a hobby. In any case, I never needed it bad enough to recall it, exactly, but I want this book. And, just as importantly, I want to know who has had it checked out all year.

Anyway, all I'm saying is, I am going to buy this book:

And PS I was looking at the cover of the book about book covers and wondering how many editions featured on the cover I own (answer: some) and I was thinking oh where oh where can I buy that 1965 (6?) edition of Ariel designed by (it seems) Berthold Wolpe and was it featured in paperback and can o can I find a first paperback edition of Ariel that looks like that and why o why do I only have the "Restored Edition." ?.