Tag Archives: books

The World’s Oldest Multicolored Printed Book Has Been Opened and Digitized for the First Time

All images courtesy Cambridge University Library

All images courtesy of Cambridge University Library

The earliest example of multicolor printing is now available for the public eye, digitally available through Cambridge University Library’s Digital Library site. The 17th century book, Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu), is so fragile that it was previously forbidden to be opened, its contents a total mystery before its recent digitization.

The book was created in 1633 by Ten Bamboo Studio and is the earliest known example of polychrome xylography, invented by Hu Zhengyan. The technique, also referred to as douban, uses several printing blocks applied in succession with different inks to achieve the appearance of a hand-painted watercolor. The Cambridge site explains that the although the skill required to achieve such douban prints is admirable, the gradations of color within the book are what led to its reputation as “perhaps the most beautiful set of prints ever made.”

The manual contains eight categories showcasing birds, plumbs, orchids, bamboos, fruit, stones, ink drawings and miscellany. All of these sections of the manual are contained in the original “butterfly binding,” and has been identified to be the finest copy in the original binding by a leading scholar.

In addition to Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu, the library has also digitized other selections from its Chinese collections including the oracle bones (the earliest surviving examples of Chinese writing anywhere in the world), a Buddhist text dated between 1127 and 1175, and a 14th century banknote that threatens forgers with decapitation. (via Hyperallergic)

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Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined, a New Book by Jeff Hamada

Salvador Dali, "The Ship," 1942-43, watercolor on paper, remake by Justin Nunnink

Salvador Dali, “The Ship,” 1942-43, watercolor on paper, remake by Justin Nunnink

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Day Dream,” 1880, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Four years ago, Booooooom creator Jeff Hamada asked the internet to join in on an art challenge to recreate their favorite old master paintings as contemporary photographs. The Remake Project sparked many professional and amateur artists to create elaborate sets, paint their bodies, paint their friends’ bodies, and take their own shot at works by artists from Dali to Magritte. This collection of original paintings and their contemporary counterparts has now taken the form of a book released through Chronicle Books titled Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined.

The book features side-by-side page layouts of a selection of works from the original contest, displaying the photographic re-interpretations next to their old-world inspiration. Photographs range from the strikingly similar to loose interpretations, a grand spectrum of re-creations represented from the project’s open call. Remake: Master Works of Art Reimagined is now available in the Colossal Shop.

Rene Magritte, "The Lovers," 1928, oil on canvas, remake by Linda Cieniawska

Rene Magritte, “The Lovers,” 1928, oil on canvas, remake by Linda Cieniawska

Ramon Casas i Carbo, "After the Ball," 1895, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Ramon Casas i Carbo, “After the Ball,” 1895, oil on canvas, remake by Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto

Jacques Louis David, "The Death of Marat," 1793, oil on canvas, remake by Adrianne Adelle

Jacques Louis David, “The Death of Marat,” 1793, oil on canvas, remake by Adrianne Adelle

Edward Hopper, "Nighthawks," 1942, oil on canvas, remake by Bastian Vice and Jiji Seabird

Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks,” 1942, oil on canvas, remake by Bastian Vice and Jiji Seabird

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Bookshelf Superheroes Appear to Save Your Favorite Reads

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Created by Artori Design, these fun metal bookshelves give the impression a stealthy superhero is saving your books from certain doom. The sideways version uses a magnet to harmlessly attach the end of the books, while the other model is a wall-mounted floating shelf that gives the impression a caped crusader is giving your books a boost from below. The shelves are currently available through Designboom. Suggestion to Artori: a lot of my favorite book superheroes are women.

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A Library That Plummets into an Abyss by Susanna Hesselberg for Sculpture by the Sea

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Susanna Hesselberg, “When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down” (2015) / Photo by Claire Voon for Hyperallergic

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For her entry into the biannual Sculpture by the Sea in Aarhus, Denmark, Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg installed this ominous library that plumments into the ground like a mining shaft. While visually arresting, the piece has a somewhat somber intention. Titled “When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down,” the artwork makes reference to lyrics from Laurie Anderson’s song World Without End. The piece joins an additional 55 sculptures on display right now at the 2015 Sculpture by the Sea through July 5, 2015. (via Hyperallergic)

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Bird Portraits Painted On Secondhand Books Featuring Their Native Brazilian Habitats Carved from the Pages

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Guy Laramée‘s (previously) new series Onde Elles Moran (Where They Live) captures the mystique of the native birds of the Brazilian region Serra do Corvo Branco (Range of the White Raven) through both portrait and carved landscape. The series contains nine sculptures sourced from secondhand bookstores within the country—tomes of the Classicos Jackson which is a series of literature classics published in the ‘50s in Brazil. The rich linen covers inspired the palettes of many of the portraits, the original colors working their way into Laramée’s artistic remodeling.

Although Laramée had originally planned to photograph the vast canyons of the region during his 4-month visit, the diversity, songs, and liveliness of the native birds kept persuading him to eclipse the beautiful scenes with their portraits. The series is dedicated to these birds and their habitat, each book containing a portrait of one on the cover against a faded background and an environmental carving into the pages of the book on the opposite side. The size ratio of the bird to corresponding landscape highlights the creatures’ importance, acknowledging their role as the true owners and rulers of the region.

“Being in the company of these lively beings were one thing, painting them was another story,” explained Laramée while discussing his process. “They became like ghosts on a theater backdrop, posing in front of wallpaper, looking at a vanishing scenery.”

Laramée hopes that this series exudes the stark differences between Man and bird, recognizing that we do not live within the same world. Man’s world has been transformed into an object from which we now feel alienated he explains—we live within our heads and books, not the canyons or earth. “Maybe where they live is where we should live,” says Laramée. “In the solitude of virgin landscapes, we might rediscover our intimate relationships to the world.”

Laramée is represented by JHB Gallery in New York City.

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Simon Stålenhag’s Retro Sci-Fi Images of a Dystopian Swedish Countryside Published In Two New Books

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Across the backdrop of an expansive retro-Scandinavian landscape, Swedish illustrator Simon Stålenhag has spent the last few years imagining a world of science fiction inhabited by roaming mech robots, dinosaurs, and other technological innovations plopped right onto the Swedish countryside. The digitally painted images spread far and wide across the internet over the last few years, capturing the imagination of legions of fantasy and sci-fi fans who clamoured for comic books and even a feature film. For now, we’ll have to make do with old-fashioned art books.

Stålenhag and Free League Publishing just announced a Kickstarter project for two new books featuring Stålenhag’s dystopian vision of the future that will pair illustrations with short stories written in English. You can explore many more illustrations on his website (just start scrolling), and some are available as individual prints.

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Book Conservator Nobuo Okano Repairs Tattered Books to Make Them Look Brand New

For the past 33 years Japanese craftsman Okano Nobuo has been repairing tattered books and reconstituting them to look brand new. When a customer brought in an old Japanese-English dictionary that looked like it had been through a few wars, Okano approached it like an art conservationist repairing a painting. Using very basic tools like a wooden press, chisel, water and glue, Okano reconstituted the book to make it look like it was just purchased.

The tedious job required Okano to take each page—all 1000 of them—and flatten out all the creases with tweezers and an iron. But not everything is repaired. Okano makes some things disappear, like the initials of an old girlfriend. And much like the way a sculptor removes pieces to improve on it, Okano applies a subtractive process to bring the book back to life.

Once the job was done the book was returned to the customer, who presented it to his daughter as she was on her way to college. “It’s not their shape or form but what’s inside them that attracts us to books,” says Okano. For a man who makes it his job to repair the shape and form of books it’s an incredibly humbling statement and is a testament to the value we still hold in physical books. (via Reddit)

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