Leonard Baskin and Typography

signatures

Leonard Baskin labelled himself an “architect of the page”. The output of Gehenna Press, founded by Baskin in 1942, demonstrates his attention to detail and concern for the artistry of books.

The typography alone makes his approach evident. See this excerpt from the site Artifex: Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press.

“Once Baskin reached a mature phase as a book designer in the 1960s, the Gehenna Press favored classic typefaces, particularly those designed and cut by Nicholas Jenson in Venice in the late fifteenth century, and revived in the early twentieth-century. The beauty of these balanced, time-honored letterforms appealed to Baskin’s sense of the history of book making as much as to his aesthetic preferences.

Nicolas Jenson. Latin grammar text book, 1475

Nicolas Jenson. Latin grammar text book, 1475

Indeed, he crafted his own handwriting, evident in the many signatures and notations on display in this exhibition, as a modern adaptation of Italian Renaissance chancery hand. Baskin later began to appreciate more modern typefaces, including Spectrum (designed by Jan Van Krimpen) and Civilité (designed by Herman Zapf), both of which revived Renaissance letterforms.”

Baskin’s focus on typography is not unfamiliar to our contemporary culture. We’re generally aware of different typographical terminologies. We have the ability to work and play with them on our word processing software every day.

Only a few decades ago, this was not the case.

See this fantastic video (made by a McMaster student) of the history of typography.

An Invitation to See the Self through Others

Deanna Bowen video still

Deanna Bowen (Canadian b. 1969)
sum of the parts: what can be named, 2010
video still. Courtesy of the artist and Vtape

A guest blog by Gio Diokno
4th year Theatre and Film Student, McMaster University

Throughout the course of the term, Ben Robinson and I have been conducting research on the issue of self-representation under the supervision of Dr. Janice Hladki and Dr. Sarah Brophy and in relation to the art exhibit, This is Me, This is Also Me. The exhibit provides an opportunity to engage in an inquiry with issues surrounding self-representation in such a way that broadens the scope of possibly understanding the ways in which people represent themselves.

However, what is the purpose of examining the ways in which people represent themselves? What is it that we can take from recognizing the ways in which self-representation is read as political, self-reflective, or abstracted?

Perhaps we can answer this by thinking of ways that we see ourselves in the art; ways to connect with the art and learn more about ourselves in how art presents the self. I would like to offer a personal reflection on the art in the exhibit as a means to show the connection with art and how I learned more about myself through engaging with the artworks.

Deanna Bowen explores and traces her personal, familial history in sum of the parts: what can be named. Bowen illustrates the intersection between personal history and historical events and engages in an interrogation of how history is written. The artwork traces the history of the Bowen family alongside the history of racism and slavery in America. In relation to Bowen’s reflection on her own personal history, I found that having a personal engagement with history provides alternative ways of encountering history and lends to the recognition of people’s lived experiences within these histories.

With regards to my own experience, I’ve encountered opposing perspectives on historical events, with both Filipino and American perspectives on the politics surrounding the Spanish-American War. Growing up the in Philippines, I learned how the Americans partook in their own form of colonialism by helping the Filipinos defeat the Spaniards, promising the Filipinos their freedom, but eventually extending their stay and building military bases all over the country. Upon moving to the States, however, this event was framed as a valiant effort to liberate the Filipinos from Spanish colonial rule and a project to develop an outpost in the Pacific, which only ended upon the realization on the part of the Americans that imperialism was immoral and that the Filipinos should have their freedom.

The intersection between these perspectives on history is a mark of my complicated diasporic identity and is a reminder of how it’s important to remember the history of my heritage and how it relates to the history of the West. I find that Bowen’s work attempts to reframe how history is understood, and in some ways decolonizes history, with the subjugated Other as the primary voice of the story being told. Bowen’s work addresses the absence of the self in history and articulates the importance of personal stories in the framing of history, illustrating concerns as to whose stories are told and whose identities are at stake.

The artworks in the exhibit pose such questions about the interactions between self and society, considering how we represent ourselves and whether or not “the self” is at the center of dominant modes of representation. The artists illustrate the politics of representation and offer their art as ways for audiences to understand, not only the artist’s politics, but also how the audiences are implicated in the issue of representation. With the topic of society and politics of representation in mind, we can mobilize these artworks as ways to look into our own lives and how we represent ourselves.

With our visual culture inundated with “selfies” on multiple platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, it’s quite clear that contemporary culture centers on the practice of image-making and articulating the self.

Gio Diokno

Gio Diokno, 4th year Theatre & Film Student, McMaster University

A continued reflection upon the ways in which we take part in the process of self-representation could lead us to understanding more about ourselves, how we represent ourselves in relation to society, and the cultural phenomena unfolding before us.

To further engage with the discussion on self-representation, a panel discussion, “Representing the Self, Connecting to Others,” will be taking place on November 27 at 1:30pm in the McMaster Museum of Art. Come and join the discussion!

PANEL DISCUSSION: Representing the Self, Connecting to Others. Nov 27

Installation view with works by artists Edvard Munch, Rebecca Belmore, and Cathy Daley. This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art.

Installation view with works by artists Edvard Munch, Rebecca Belmore, and Cathy Daley.
This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art.

The McMaster Museum of Art invites you to a…

PANEL DISCUSSION:
Representing the Self, Connecting to Others
Thursday November 27 from 1:30 – 3 PM

You are invited to attend a panel discussion by scholars of autobiography, visual culture, feminist theory, sexuality studies, and Indigenous Studies. The panel is hosted and organized by Dr. Sarah Brophy and Dr. Janice Hladki, McMaster professors and co-curators of This Is Me, This Is Also Me, an exhibition of self-representational art now on view at the McMaster Museum of Art.

The panelists are:

EVA C. KARPINSKI is Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University, where she teaches feminist theory, cultural studies, autobiography, and translation studies. Her research interests include postmodernist, poststructuralist, and affect theories, feminist ethics and pedagogy, twentieth-century literature, and women’s life writing in multiple genres and media. She has published over 30 articles and book chapters in Canadian and international venues, most recently in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. She is the author of Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation (2012) and co-editor of Trans/Acting Culture, Writing, and Memory: Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard (2013).

SHOSHANA MAGNET is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies and le départment de Criminologie at the University of Ottawa. She has published three books: When Biometrics Fail: Race, Gender and the Technology of Identity (Duke University Press, 2011), The New Media of Surveillance (co-edited with Kelly Gates, Routledge 2010) and Feminist Surveillance Studies (co-edited with Rachel Dubrofsky, and forthcoming from Duke University Press in spring 2015).

CARRIE MCMULLIN is a recent graduate of McMaster University, holding a combined honours B.A. in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, History, and Indigenous Studies. Carrie’s academic interests combine these disciplines into work that reflects upon ideas of identity and the representation of othered bodies within the multi-national project of Canada. As a multi-national Mohawk and Canadian citizen herself, Carrie hopes to further address the political ramifications of these representations in both historical and contemporary contexts. Upon her graduation in spring 2014, Carrie received a President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership, in part for her work on behalf of the McMaster First Nations Students Association.

THY PHU is an Associate Professor at Western University. Her research and teaching focus on cultural studies, visual culture, Asian North American literature, critical race studies, and American studies. Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture (Temple University Press, 2012), her first book, explores the relationship between civility and citizenship. Her second book, Feeling Photography, a collection of essays co-edited with Elspeth Brown, is published from Duke University Press. She is currently working on two related projects. The first, with Andrea Noble, is on the Cold War Camera, a collaborative exploration of the ways that photography mediates the global cold war. The second is a history of 20th-century Vietnamese photography.

This free panel discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.
Please join us for what promises to be an exciting and invigorating discussion!

This project is supported at McMaster University by the Arts Research Board; Forward with Integrity, Office of the President; and Research & International Affairs.

McMaster Museum of Art
Alvin A. Lee Building
McMaster University
1280 Main St W
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6
905.525.9140 x.23241

Admission is Free
Museum hours: Tue/Wed/Fri 11am-5pm, Thu 11-7, Sat 12-5
museum@mcmaster.ca
http://museum.mcmaster.ca

A Year of Creativity: Session #2

This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition (viewing video by Kenyan/British artist Grace Ndiritu) — at McMaster Museum of Art.

This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition
(viewing video by Kenyan/British artist Grace Ndiritu) — at McMaster Museum of Art.

The McMaster Museum of Art invites McMaster graduate students to the second session of the “Year of Creativity”, a series of workshops that will engage graduate students in creative thinking through the Museum’s inspired space and art collection.

design_2Exploring art and the brain:
problems and possibilities
A Year of Creativity: Session #2
Thursday November 27, 5 – 7 pm

Dinner provided

Here’s an outline of the evening…

November 27 Exploring art and the brain:
problems and possibilities
5 – 5:30 Sally McKay, Instructor, McMaster School of the Arts.Exploring art and the brain: problems and possibilities. This seminar will consider art and neuroscience to challenge the mind/body split.
5:30 – 6 Art-making activity led by Sally McKay.
6 – 6:20 Tour of This Is Me, This Is Also Me exhibition.This group exhibition of Canadian-based and international works focuses on self-representation and self-portraiture.
6:20 – 6:45 Creative activity: Mind-mapping – a creative way to visualize our thoughts, ideas, issues and the connections between them. Mind maps let us see what we think.

For more information please contact Irena Radisevic (radisei@mcmaster.ca) or Nicole Knibb (knibbn@mcmaster.ca).

Space is limited. To register please visit our Eventbrite page

Directions to the Museum

 

A True Opening

A guest blog by Ben Robinson,
4th year English Student,
McMaster University

Since last spring Gio Diokno and I have been working with Professors Brophy and Hladki as they have been preparing their exhibit for the McMaster Museum of Art entitled “This is Me, This is also Me.” As I was thinking and writing about the many works that were going to be included in the exhibit I grew more and more excited for the exhibit to finally open. The opening of the exhibit would mean that the various pieces that I’d seen thumbnails of on the internet or read long academic essays about would finally be physically in front of me.

However, I also had ideas about what an opening at a university gallery would be like. Now I had been to the McMaster Museum of Art many times before and always had great experiences, but for some reason in my mind an opening was an entirely different thing.  I grew anxious as I imagined myself mingling in a room filled with professors, talking to them about my puny papers and how I’d just been to the gallery the week previous for my first year art history elective. I figured by virtue of its association with the University it would be a largely academic affair and as an undergraduate, I’d probably stick out a little bit.

But as I made my way into the gallery on Thursday night I very quickly recognized a friend in the line that was spilling right out the front doors of the museum. And as I entered to the smiling faces of my supervisors I was shocked to see such a mixed room. There were first years who had come straight from a lecture, research assistants who had been working on the show for months, members of the community who had come by on a whim, and even a couple of children running around. Perhaps, the students were just there for the free wine before heading back to work on papers, but the diversity of the event was marked. Together they circulated the room, discussing things like how Edvard Munch’s portrait kind of creeped them out.

And all of this speaks to the community ethos of the museum and the exhibit more generally. It was clear that all those involved  were concerned with sharing their knowledge with the community in order to dispel the “ivory tower” image of the university. In fact, the Director and Chief Curator of the MMA, Carol Podedworny highlighted the importance that Professors Brophy and Hladki are “presenting their research work in a public forum” in her opening address.

This tension of being academically and yet at the same time community oriented was captured perfectly in the pair of faculty members who offered their reflections on the exhibit. The first speaker was Professor Don Goellnicht, the Director of the Institute of Globalization and Human Rights, and he took a more classical academic approach to the exhibit’s content. He lauded the inclusion of various racialized, gendered, queer, and Indigenous artists in the exhibit and went on to explain the way that marginalized began to adopt a post-structuralist idea of the self where one’s identity is fixed in any one form. He explained the way that many communities began to see the value in a flexible idea of the self in representing difference, led largely by artists like Grace Ndiritu whose video art installation shows how she can display herself in many different ways.

This academic insight into the exhibit was paired with the reflections of Professor Sheila Sammon, Director of Community Engagement. Sammon also praised the exhibit for its inclusivity of both on-campus and off-campus communities stating the importance of sharing the knowledge of the university with people in the surrounding area. The project embodied the idea of knowledge translation in the way it had brought academics and artists and community members together to discuss common issues.

That is the beauty of an exhibit like this in my mind, that it unites people locally and offers an opportunity for knowledge to be shared across groups. I knew going into the exhibit that it represented a diverse range of perspectives but I was please to see that the community gathered to celebrate the opening of the exhibit also represented diverging ideas of gender, race, class and age. It struck me that in a beautiful moment of symmetry, the various “Me”s hanging on the walls in the museum were like a reflection of the diverse collection of “Me”s that filled the interior of the room for the opening.

Leonard Baskin’s Prints to Honour Sculptors

Installation view of Leonard Baskin monotypes in The Art of the Book exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art

Installation view of Leonard Baskin monotypes in The Art of the Book exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art

Leonard Baskin created several series of prints honouring artists he admired.

Currently on display at the McMaster Museum of Art are five pieces from his book Twelve Sculptors: a book of monotypes with short notes on the monotypes and the sculptors (1988).

Of his numerous honorary portraits, Baskin wrote:

I can but speculate as to why I have been put to the ardent making of homages to artists of the past, and in inordinate numbers. It is not, I feel certain, an act of simple or complex, straightforward or devious, obeisance, from a poor contemporary thing to the titans of the past: I suffer in myself no false humility. Rather, this near-blizzard of portraits-in-homage is the anxiety-obsessed wail emitted by an artist who feels isolated and under siege. It is the stretched, the harassed call of comrades-in-arms, for re-enforcing help and fighting strength, for justification, for reassurance, a battering on the door of history to send witnesses to plead his cause, to usurp the enemies who have so wantonly seized power and control.   (Baskin, Iconologia, (1988): 1)

Here are the five portraits of sculptors now on view, alongside a photograph of a public sculpture by that particular artist:

Elie Nadelman, 1882-1946, American

Leonard Baskin, Elie Nadelman, 1988 Monotype Image: 12.6 x 10 cm   Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin 2007.004.0026

Leonard Baskin, Elie Nadelman, 1988, Monotype, 12.6 x 10 cm
Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin. ©The Estate of Leonard Baskin; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.
Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University 2007.004.0026

The Fuller Building in New York City with two figures by Elie Nadelman flanking a clock. Photo: Wally Gobetz

The Fuller Building in New York City with two figures by Elie Nadelman flanking a clock. Photo: Wally Gobetz

John Flanagan, 1865-1952, American

A sculptor who designed the Washington U.S. quarter dollar coin, which was issued in 1932.

Leonard Baskin, John Flanagan, 1988 Monotype, 12.8 x 10.2 cm, Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin 2007.004.0029

Leonard Baskin, John Flanagan, 1988
Monotype, 12.8 x 10.2 cm,
Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin
©The Estate of Leonard Baskin; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York. 
Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University 2007.004.0029

flanagan

John Flanagan, Rotunda Clock, marble, c. 1896, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington D.C. Photo: Carol Highsmith

 Andrew O’Connor, 1874-1941, American-Irish

Leonard Baskin, Andrew O'Connor, 1988, Monotype, 12.6 x 10.2 cm  Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin 2007.004.0031

Leonard Baskin, Andrew O’Connor, 1988, Monotype, 12.6 x 10.2 cm
Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin
©The Estate of Leonard Baskin; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.
Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University 2007.004.0031

Springfield Illinois State Capitol Dome and Lincoln Statue by Andrew O'Connor. Photo: Randy von Liski

Springfield Illinois State Capitol Dome and Lincoln Statue by Andrew O’Connor. Photo: Randy von Liski

Bessie Potter Vonnoh, 1872-1955, American

She produced genre statuettes depicting domestic and feminine subjects that not only captured a refined segment of turn-of-the-century society, but also contributed to the vitalization of small bronze sculpture in America.

BASKIN, Leonard Bessie Potter Vonnoh, 1988, Monotype, 12.4 x 9.8 cm  Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin 2007.004.0033

Leonard Baskin, Bessie Potter Vonnoh, 1988, Monotype, 12.4 x 9.8 cm
Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin
©The Estate of Leonard Baskin; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.
Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University 2007.004.0033

Bessie Potter Vonnoh,  The Secret Garden, Burnett Fountain in Central Park's Conservatory Garden. photo: Joe Shlabotnik

New York City – Bessie Potter Vonnoh, The Secret Garden, Burnett Fountain in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. Photo: Joe Shlabotnik

Frederick MacMonnies, 1863-1937 American

He was the best known expatriate American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts school, as successful and lauded in France as he was in the United States. He was also a highly accomplished painter and portraitist. (MacMonnies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Leonard Baskin, Frederick MacMonnies, 1988, 12.6 x 10 cm Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin 2007.004.0035

Leonard Baskin, Frederick MacMonnies, 1988, 12.6 x 10 cm
Gift of Rabbi Bernard Baskin ©The Estate of Leonard Baskin; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.
Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University 2007.004.0035

Brooklyn - Prospect Heights: Grand Army Plaza - Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch with 3 sculptural groupings commission from Frederick MacMonnies in 1894. Photo: Wally Gobetz

Brooklyn – Prospect Heights: Grand Army Plaza – Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch with 3 sculptural groupings commission from Frederick MacMonnies in 1894. Photo: Wally Gobetz

Celebrating ‘This is Me, This is Also Me’

This is Me, This is Also Me. Reception: Nov 6/14 at McMaster Museum of Art

This is Me, This is Also Me. Reception: Nov 6/14 at McMaster Museum of Art

Thank you to everyone came out last Thursday evening to support and celebrate the opening of our new exhibition This is Me, This is Also Me. The event kicked off with opening remarks and insights from Don Goellnicht, Professor in English and Cultural Studies and Director of the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition; Sheila Sammon, Professor in Social Work and Director of Community Engagement; the exhibition’s co-curators, McMaster Professors Sarah Brophy and Janice Hladki; and the Museum of Art Director Carol Podedworny.

Check out the album of pics below, come see the exhibition, and please  join us for upcoming related events including:

PANEL DISCUSSION - Representing the Self, Connecting to Others on November 27, 1:30 – 3:00 pm with panelists:
Eva Karpinski, School of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, York University
Shoshana Magnet, Institute of Feminist & Gender Studies, University of Ottawa
Carrie McMullin, Graduate of the Indigenous Studies Program and the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies & Critical Theory, McMaster University
Thy Phu, Department of English, Western University

A STUDENT MEDIA WORKSHOP: Our Selfies, Ourselves? :  February 5, 2015 from 4:30 – 6:30 pm

ARTIST PANEL DISCUSSION with Rebecca BelmoreDeanna BowenCathy Daley:  March 12, 2015 from 6 – 8 pm

 


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