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Woodcuts by Antonio Frasconi

Galería Colibrí Catalogue No. 25, February 1967.

One hundred copies of this catalogue carry an original color woodcut signed and numbered by the artist.

(An exhibition of Frasconi's book illustrations, typography, and other graphic designs was concurrently on display at La Casa del Libro, Calle del Cristo 255, through March, 1967.)

Inroduction

by Fritz Eichenberg
This article is reprinted with permission from Artist's Proof No. 9 &10 (a journal of printmaking published by the Pratt Center for Contemporary Printmaking).

ANTONIO FRASCONI'S work runs like a strong and steady stream, skirting all the obstacles of prevalent fads and fashions. After nearly twenty five years of graphic activities, there is no let up, no signs of battle fatigue, no lack of new ideas.

His prints reflect the world in which he moves. They are in form pastoral and turbulent, playful and violent, poetic and socio political. Rarely are they dull or pedestrian. Frasconi renews his sources of creativity in these constant changes of emphasis and meaning.

Wood is his medium, no matter how often he may try to stray away from it. Just as he masters it - its fibers and accidental textures - the wood, in turn, holds him captive with its unending variations and innate qualities. He can play it like a fine instrument.

If there is anything more absorbing in Frasconi's life, it is his love for the book.for the printed page and the harmonious combination of letter and woodcut, which, through tradition, have become irrevocably intertwined. What attracts us to Frasconi's books is the painstaking devotion given to the minutia of their design and production, the variety of subject matter which reveals the artist's diversity of interests, and the pleasure conveyed by their aesthetic perfection.

Frasconi does not like to wait for commissions which may or may not be to his taste. So, for a number of years he has turned publisher without an imprint of his own. Some of his most delightful books have remained an edition of one. They are hand-printed accordion-fold books, in the Japanese manner. It is a joy to unfold rippling panoramas of tides, ships, and wheeling gulls, or of jumping acrobats and flying insects. Others: his calendars, his books on birds, on wild flowers, his fables, and portraits of Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and Thoreau, have gone out in limited editions, most of them distributed by E. Weyhe.

On a larger scale and commercially produced are Frasconi books published by Harcourt, Brace and World, examples of which are his most recent and perhaps best work, Neruda's Bestiary /Bestiario (see listing in Reviews of Recent Books and Portfolios, on pages 110-112), or the delightful palm-sized A Sunday in Monterey, printed in Japan; or the successful series of children's books See and Say, The House that Jack Built, and The Snow and the Sun. Needless to say, the illustrations are woodcuts, remarkably well printed in litho offset, apparently under the watchful eye of the artist who can easily frighten any printer into doing his utmost. Nothing, however, can surpass the performance of the artist's own hands. Frasconi has developed handprinting (without the benefit of a press) to perfection, almost to an art in itself. His sensitivity to the slightest variation of woodgrain, ink, and paper is transmited through the spoon or baren to the block's surface. It produces perfect prints which not even the most intricate machine can match,

Yet, in all fairness, it must be said that some of his books have been treated very creditably in smaIl editions by The Spiral Press and by Igal Roodenko and James Lanier.

Frasconi is essentiaIly a people's artist in the best traditions of I'image populaire, a man with a social conscience like Posada, who embraces unpopular causes with uncommon compassion. Garcia Lorca, the martyred poet, is his patron saint, symbolic in many ways for Frasconi who doggedly fights highpowered windmills. Brecht is another of Frasconi's idols. The artist's woodcuts for Brecht's grim Song of the Storm Trooper refreshes faulty memories of mankind's bestiality in our own time.

But what renews the artist's strength and hope is his constant encounter with the regenerating earth and its exuberant forms, shapes, and colors. Thus, we find Storm Trooper followed by the lyrical hand-colored dry-points of American Wild Flowers and preceded by Birds from my Homeland. And this is as it should be for an artist who lives a life which includes birds, flowers, and children, as well as human frailties.

 

CATALOGUE

Cat #                                                                      Year Ed. Size

393 "Summer Bird"                                             1958 10  22 1/2 x 34

418 "Pablo Casals"                                            1959 25  l7 1/2 x 28

524 "The Arena IV"                                             1963 25  6 1/2 x 5 3/4

533 M "Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963 - XVI"                1964 15  29 x 21 1/2

539 "The Window"                                              1965 50 16 1/2 x l3 1/8

551 "Moon Bird"                                                  1965 50 11 x 8

553 "Niaht Dog"                                                   1965 25 10 1/2 x 7

554 "Conversation"                                             1965 25 9 1/2 x 6 1/2

555 "Spider"                                                         1965 25 9 x 10

556 "Edgar A. Poe and Text"                            1965 25 7 1/4 x 9 1/2

557 "Walt Whitman -Star"                                  1965 25 101/2 x 6

574 "Sundial I"                                                     1965 25 6 7/8 x 5

576 "Flight"                                                           1965 25 9 x 7 1/4

587 "Scrap I"                                                        1965 20 22 3/4x 16

588 "M.anresa I"                                                  1965 20 30 x 22

591 "Barn Door"                                                  1965 14 21 7/8 x 16

593 "Miguel"                                                        1966 20 23 3/4x 17 1/4

594 "Family Portrait"                                           1966 20 36 x 22 1/2

596 "The Meadows II"                                        1966 18 22 x 34

598 "Winter Night"                                              1966 12 22 x 34

599 "Albert Einstein"                                          1966 50 7 7/8 x 7 7/8

605 "Thaw I"                                                        1966 23 22 x 33 77/8

606 "Thaw II"                                                       1966 23 22 x 29 7/8

607 "The Hawks VII"                                          1966 15 34 7/8x 23 1/4

612 "The Rock Garden I"                                  1966 20 22 x 34

615B "Henry D. Thoreau and Text"                1966 50 12 3/4 x 5 5/8

626 "Phases of The Moon"                               1966 50 8 3/4 x 7 3/4

633 "Tuscany V"                                                 1966 18 25 x 22

AII the works listed in this catalog are color woodcuts, except numbers 576 and 593, which are in black and white. The numbers follow the order established in the two comprehensive catalogs published by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art, respectively on the occasion of their exhibitions of the artist's work.

   
           
               
     

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