IFPDA - Artwork
Poetry of Sappho

Julie Mehretu

Poetry of Sappho

2011

Artist's Book

14 1/2" x 9 3/4"

400

Arion Press

San Francisco, CA

415-668-2542

Under $2,200

More Information

In Poetry of Sappho painter Julie Mehretu has created prints for her first artist book, one of Arion’s most beautiful and ambitious publications. Twenty prints by Mehretu alternate with pages of poetry in Greek and in English. Four additional prints with hand coloring are presented in portfolio. The new English translations were commissioned for this edition from poet John Daley and classicist Page duBois.

SAPPHO

Sappho is the supreme lyric poet of antiquity. Celebrated by Plato as the “Tenth Muse”, she left a literary monument comparable to the other precious ruins of the ancient world. As with its time scarred architecture, mutilated statues, and partial inscriptions, what remains of her poems are fragments of a vanished whole, and all the more resonant for being so. The only woman whose poetry has come down to us from antiquity, Sappho wrote more than two and a half millennia ago, a century after Homer, but before the great age of Greek drama and philosophy. Her subject is not war and the state, but individual emotion and the enjoyment of beauty, expressed in unforgettable images. The theme of lost civilizations implicit in Sappho made the ancient Greek poet a fruitful subject for Mehretu.

Julie Mehretu is one of the most admired artists working today. An Ethiopian-American painter known for her densely-layered abstract images, she lives in New York City and works there and in Berlin. She received the 2005 MacArthur Fellowship.

The Arion Press book edition is limited to 400 numbered copies for sale and 26 lettered copies for complimentary distribution. All copies are signed by the artist.

The format is 14-1/2 x 9-3/4 inches, 112 pages. The introduction was set in 12-point Garamont Monotype. The English translations were handset in 18-point Garamont. Garamont is a type by the prolific American designer Frederic W. Goudy, based on the sixteenth-century Garamond rendered in the later style of Jannon and more recent French versions. The Greek was composed on computer in digital Adobe Garamond Greek type, printed from polymer plates.

The book contains 20 double-page Mehretu prints in black and white printed from polymer plates. On the title page, introduction, and colophon are 23 wood engravings cut by Anita Cowles Rearden in the 1880s, intended as illustrations for a book on Sappho and Alcaeus by her husband Judge Timothy Rearden, now printed for the first time (at the time the book went unpublished due to the author’s unexpected death). All printing is by letterpress.

The paper is Revere, an Italian mould-made sheet, 250 grams per square meter. The sections are handsewn with linen thread over vellum tapes, that are laced through the joints of the spine, which is also of vellum, stamped in gold with the poet’s name. The boards are covered with a fine binding cloth manufactured in Germany, of a light green color, imprinted with a portion of an image from the extra suite of prints in darker green. The book is presented in a cloth and paper covered slipcase with spine stamping similar to the book’s. Price: $1,750. Further information may be viewed here: http://www.arionpress.com/catalog/093.htm