The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Lyra Kilston reviews Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design for the LA Review of Books.

The Well-Made Book — An interesting article by Michael Agresta on how printed books, and their design, are changing in the digital age:

Now, as we move into the digital age, the well-made copy has come to occupy a familiar, almost nostalgic middle ground between the aura of an original and the ghostly quality of a computer file. A mass-produced paper book, though bulkier and more expensive, may continue to be more desirable because it carries with it this material presence. And presence means something—or it can, at least, in the hands of a good book designer.

Innards and Interiors — The Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition at the Barbican reviewed at The Financial Times:

Paul Klee favoured risotto with steamed calf’s heart, sour liver and lung ragout: in the kitchen, as in his paintings, he was obsessed with innards, interiors, reconfiguring essential forms. Wassily Kandinsky lived in a streamlined white apartment but, incongruously, cooked on a “kamin” – a Russian wood-burning stove made from heavily ornamented black iron. Josef Albers claimed “I paint the way I spread butter on pumpernickel” – robustly and straightforwardly; he called the colour mixes in his “Homage to the Square” series his “recipes”. And Swiss painter and vegetarian zealot Johannes Itten was driven out of Weimar because he hijacked the Bauhaus kitchen and alienated director Walter Gropius by producing only “uncooked mush smothered in garlic”. The Barbican’s new exhibition… gives a whole new flavour to the story of the art school long seen to embody sober, purist German modernism.

Weird Comics — Local small press publisher Annie Koyama profiled in the Quill & Quire:

Koyama says her strategy for the year ahead is “to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks,” but she acknowledges her biggest business challenge is twofold: increasing print runs to improve margins and lining up reliable distribution for the fledgling firm. After working around the clock for nearly four years… she says her goal now is to create a sustainable enterprise that can continue to fulfill its artist-centric mandate… She’s also considering expanding into children’s books. But not in the way you’d expect. “While there are a million good kids’ books out there, there aren’t a million good kids’ comics I can see – especially not weird ones,” she says.

And finally…

Maurice Sendak, “author of splendid nightmares” has passed away aged 83. The New Yorker has made a short Art Spiegelman comic about meeting Sendak available online. And here is a wonderful interview with author from December last year:

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