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Illuminating Manuscripts

Bill talks about the creative partnership between writers and artists, and reconsiders Judith's eliminated work.


Rock stars get it. So do comedians, professional athletes, actors, and politicians. But where is the applause for artists? Maybe Work of Art can provide a round of that. I hope so. I, for one, would like to recognize Judith who went home this week. She stopped by an opening at my gallery a few months ago with Trong and started explaining her book cover idea for Pride and Prejudice in greater detail. Apparently after the taping was over Judith discovered that Jane Austen had actually written some letters backwards to her niece Cassy, which I found a cool little piece of voodoo and it definitely pushed me reconsider what Judith presented during the Penguin challenge. Since men began illuminating manuscripts, artists and writers have worked together and I'm glad to see the tradition continue. Richard Prince provided cover art for James Frey's novel Bright Shiny Morning, John Currin lent Amy Sohn an image for My Old Man, and a Tom Sachs happy meal graced the dust jacket of Deluxe.

I also love how current events can recontextualize literature. Recently, I've been reading some op-ed stories about how Moby Dick relates to the BP oil spill and it's precisely these types of deconstructionist readings which prompt us to revisit paintings and photographs again and again. It was great to see John win for his take on The Time Machine. We think of a time-traveling contraption as being something sleek that a visionary like Marc Newson might design: all-bended metal and reflectively futuristic. John 's treatment was both counterintuitive and California retro, which made for a wonderfully weird combo. Can't wait to see it on bookshelves!

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