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Woodcut Hardcover – May 2, 2012
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"A swell coffee table companion for hip young DIY-ers who cultivate a lumberjack look that says they've come straight from splitting firewood, the new book "Woodcut" is also likely to appeal to a much wider audience." -- Wall Street Journal
"With this mesmerizing series, Bryan Nash Gill doesn't just bridge the gap between abstraction and representation, object and subject-- he closes them. WOODCUT confirms Gill's place as one of the most inventive, inspired artists working today" -- Tod Lippy, Esopus magazine
It's a strangely moving experience to flip through Woodcut (Princeton Architectural Press, $30), a book of Bryan Nash Gill's relief prints of tree-trunk cross sections, which the artist harvests from felled trees, cedar telephone poles and discarded fence posts in his native Connecticut. One is struck by how Gill's method - cutting blocks with a chain saw, sanding them down, burning them and sealing them with shellac - amplifies the events in the life of a tree: lightning strikes, burgeoning burls, insect holes and, of course, the aging process, evidence of which radiates out in transfixing patterns. Verlyn Klinkenborg , who also writes for The New York Times, describes these cross sections in the book's preface as "the death mask of a plant, the sustained rigor mortis" of maple, spruce and locust. They remind us, he says, that every biological form "possesses a unique footprint." --- T: The New York Times Style Magazine
About the Author
Bryan Nash Gill was born and raised in the same rural, north-western corner of Connecticut were he works as an artist today. His sculptures and drawings are heavily influenced by the New England countryside but also by geographical regions as diverse as Carrara, Italy, New Orleans, and northern California where he has lived and worked.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Simply put, Bryan Nash Gill has given us a collection of prints of tree rings; those mysterious and every changing marks you see when you examine the end of a cut log or branch. The author/artist has given us a very nice over view of the techniques he uses the printing methods and has shared with us the many wonderful and curious observation he has made with each piece of wood he worked with. Now I am most certainly not a Dendrochronologist my any means but trees are a very important part of my life. I am and unashamed tree hunger and have been all of my life. I love working in the woods and with wood; love the feel, looks and functionality of the stuff as well as the natural beauty.
At the end of the book the author has shred with us some of his techniques and handling of his subject - all extremely interesting bits of data.
This is a pleasing work which has been very well printed and I have received much pleasure from it already.
I don't ordinarily buy an art book without having first seen it; however, the review coupled with the publisher (Princeton) made this a compelling choice.
I was so excited about its arrival that I even blurted out to a bookseller I know that I had just purchased a fantastic new book title 'Woodcut' etc.; a brag that I reserve for my best finds/sales.
Upon opening the packaging, I was immediately disappointed by the small size of the book (at the time of pre-ordering I didn't see any size stated).
Folks!!! This book is only approximately 10" x 10" in size (and maybe 3/4" thick in approx. 120 pps.): A laughably small size when you consider that some of the prints the author made were more than 4 FEET per side.
As such, you can imagine how small the actual reproductions are. In fact, only a single, solitary print even spills onto a second page and it doesn't fill it. The editors even went so far as to cram as many as four reproductions on to a single page: Not excusable.
The printing and binding of this book were done in China. Once again, nobody who cares about producing an art book is going to send the job to China for, her production skills are just not up to snuff at this time.
Here's why the points I have just made about this book are critical. One of the things I had wished for in this book was that the artist had taken on the task of reproducing a wide variety of tree species that occur around his studio. In other words, I had hoped a high art book with a scientific/naturalist angle enabling a reader to see, in cross-section, the species of the forest as found in his neck of the woods, Connecticut.
This the artist failed to do. He, instead, chose to reproduce pretty patterns. Again, this would have been great, but for the diminutive size of the book and prints and the less than stellar quality of the paper and reproductions. As such, these are mildly interesting but do not in any way do justice to the underlying death mask, I think.
For me, a lover and collector of art books, this book is a bit like that porridge served to David Copperfield, I, though, won't ask for more, sir!
Crosscuts of trunks, branches and burls are carefully trimmed and sanded, then inked and printed, giving us a record, not only of the life of a tree, but of the world around it. What years were dry? What sort of injury caused this scarring? Gills trees speak to us thanks to his painstaking process of discovery.
While this is essentially an art book, the section on process is well worth reading because it is also a history of the trees represented.
I see people complaining that the book isn't big enough, isn't glossy enough. If you just want a coffee table book, go elsewhere. On the strength of this book, I'll be looking for more by Gill. He has respect for his subjects, which is what makes this book special.