Granary Books is pleased to offer for sale a selection of striking collages and collage books created by Lewis Warsh.
This coincides with the upcoming issue of Mimeo Mimeo (a magazine edited by Kyle Schlesinger and Jed Birmingham about "artist's books, typography & the mimeo revolution") devoted to the work of Warsh, a poet, novelist, publisher, artist, and teacher.
We've published several projects with Lewis over the years including: Bustin's Island '68, a work which asks for a new rubric, call it a poet's book; The Angel Hair Anthology, a massive gathering from the formative magazine and press he edited with Anne Waldman in the sixties and seventies; Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005, with a Warsh cover collage; and Debtor's Prison, a collaboration with visual artist Julie Harrison.
It is therefore a special privilege to share a rarely glimpsed but most important aspect of Warsh's practice since 1996. His collages seem a natural if not inevitable extension of his writing, and portray a visual dimension that is sumptuous, alluring and mysterious.
What follows are some highlights followed by a full gallery of images with a brief artist's biography and statement. Contact Steve Clay () regarding availability.
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Lewis Warsh was born in the Bronx in 1944. He has been an active figure in the downtown New York City literary community since the mid-sixties. His first book, The Suicide Rates, was published by Toad Press in 1967. In 1966 he and Anne Waldman founded Angel Hair magazine and books and in 1977 he founded United Artists magazine and books with Bernadette Mayer. United Artists Books is still active to this day, establishing Warsh as one of the longest-running small press publishers in the United States.
Warsh's writing has been published in more than 30 volumes of poetry, fiction, autobiography and translation including; A Place In The Sun (2010), Inseparable: Poems 1995–2005 (2008), Ted's Favorite Skirt (2002), Touch of the Whip (2001), The Origin of the World (2001), Debtor's Prison, (2001), Money Under the Table (1997) and A Free Man (1991).
He has been the recipient of many awards and honors including the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry in English.
Lewis Warsh is Professor of English at Long Island University in Brooklyn and is founding director of their MFA in Creative Writing program.
I made my first collages in 1996. They were image-based, like most collages, cut-outs from magazines. I did a series of 24 4x6 collages on poster boards. I always wanted to do collages and artist's books so I decided to do it. In the early 90s I'd begun a series of poems where I collaged and then arranged often a hundred or more lines, with a space between each line. Each poem consisted of 3-4 pages of these lines, mostly lines from poems that I'd discarded. There was no obvious connection between each of the lines but I tried to arrange them so they created a hidden narrative. 17 of these poems were collected in the book, The Origin of the World (Creative Arts, 2001), named after Courbet's famous painting. (I didn't realize that it was famous until afterwards.)
I then realized I could make color xeroxes of all the small collages and create a series of artist's books. For the first group of 24 I created an edition of 4. I made 4 copies of each collage and pasted them in books which I bought in art supply stores. So I figured that I could make collages and then books as well and that all this connected to my poetry. I was also writing non-collage poems at the time along with novels and stories.
I continued doing image-based collages until 2006 when I started using letters. I cut letters from magazines—white letters on black backgrounds, black letters on white backgrounds, and letters of various colors. I covered poster boards—8x10, 11x14, 16x20—with letters. I became aware of the shapes of letters, and then the sizes of the letters I was cutting out, but most of my decisions (where to put the letters) were intuitive and in the moment. I didn't attempt to spell any words with the letters, not at first. I became involved in clustering letters—a lot of A's, for instance, in one corner. Often the letters overlapped one another, but not by much. Mostly I used art magazines—someone gave me about 100 back issues of Artforum. I learned a lot going through these magazines and reading the articles.
I began to see that variations were possible. I did one collage just using the lettter "E"—both capital and lower case, a kind of homage to Georges Perec who wrote a novel, La Disparition, without the letter "e". In another series of collages, I spelled out the words "Hysteria" "Obsession" and "Paranoia." The possibilities were endless. I did a series of SOS collages. I did about 5 very large collages, approx. 30x40 inches.
Then I realized I could do image-based collages and cover them (partially) with letters, so that the image showed through as well. I've been doing these for the last year, though I've also returned to the all-over format (just letters). I like doing collages in series, so if I do one in a particular style I often do several in the same style.
I've begun covering cigar boxes with letters with a little artist's book inside the box.
I've also made numerous series of artist's books, using images, texts and letters.
I also work with grids—dividing a poster board into 5 parts, for instance, and doing something different in each part. One part might contain the letter S, one part might contain just red letters.
Please contact Steve Clay () for additional information.