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Illustrated Verses from the 1950s on View at Woodward Gallery
Friday, March 16, 2012
Etchings and aquatints that mash up handwritten verses with illustrations and designs are on display at Woodward Gallery in a new exhibition called 21 Etchings and Poems.
One artist collaborated with one poet to make each of the 21 black-and-white prints on view. Artists who illustrated the verses include abstract expressionists Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Writers who etched their verses backwards on the copper plates include Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and modernist poet William Carlos Williams.
Art critic Hrag Vartanian, who edits the arts blog Hyperallergic, says the prints vary in look and style.
"Some of them are very neat, some of them are very messy, some of them have real panache," he said.
The "21 Etchings and Poems" series was made between 1951 and 1960, after sculptor, printmaker and painter Peter Grippe took over the art studio and print shop Atelier 17, which was then located in Greenwich Village.
Gallery visitors will also hear audio recordings of the poets' works being recited. Vartanian says that the audio coupled with the illustrated verses makes the exhibit feel a little like walking into a period piece.
"It really does have this sense of nostalgia about it, but in a really good way," he said, "kind of like walking into a slice of old New York."
Vartanian added that it is not everyday that viewers get the chance to see all 21 prints displayed together since only 50 prints were made.
"Most of them were sold as individual sheets because people had favorite artists, people had favorite poets," he said. "But to see this as a complete collection is really a rare thing."
21 Etchings and Poems runs through April 29. See a slideshow of some of the works in the exhibit below.