Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Peter Saul, Conceptual Art (Picturebox, 2012, signed and numbered edition)

Picturebox was a wonderful publishing house based in Brooklyn that put out art and comic books from 2000-2013. I remember years ago they had a pop-up in Gowanus in Brooklyn and my wife and I stopped by for an event -- I think it was the launch party for the amazing two-volume Gary Panter book. The Picturebox bibliography was ahead of its time, doing zines with some big players in the contemporary art world like Joe Bradley and Michael Williams. As a comics fan, it was a thrill to browse their books for some new minis by Dash Shaw or the post-Buenaventura Press Kramer’s Ergot 8, and then be tuned into folks like Jonas Wood or find some historical books on Karl Wirsum and the Chicago Imagists.

Picturebox did an outstanding book with Peter Saul which completely passed by me when it first came out in 2012. Conceptual Art is a staple-bound compilation of Saul’s fantastic painting studies - it’s printed in purple ink like an old mimeograph. Saul’s one of my favorites and it’s such a silly time to look through these studies -- we’ve got goofy riffs on “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”, some cheshire-grinning de Kooning scrambles, and a slew of hotel-stationery doodles.

When he finishes a drawing that he thinks might be a great painting, Saul draws gridlines over it (art school 101-style) which are then transferred to his massive canvases. There’s a beautiful sense of naive wonderment to his works on paper, mixed with a confidence that can only be obtained from an exceptional fluency in art history.

This book is from an edition of 300 signed and numbered copies and is exceptionally hard to find -- there’s not ever a copy on abebooks. I don't know how you'd find one if you wanted to. I found this at Harper’s Books in Easthampton -- they have an amazing annual sale which bumped the price down to $135.

The book felt particularly essential to me because I recently bought this beauty: an original Saul drawing of a pig-nosed “REMBRANT” dog, with paintbrushes in his mouth!

Currently reading:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Currently listening to:
The Afghan Whigs, "In Spades"

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