David Bjoerling Jensen

Tag: art

Crystallized Codices

Whoa!  Check this out!  These books were recently  found in a crevasse deep in a cave in the hill country of central Texas.  It seems a long-forgotten explorer had left them behind ages ago, only to let the unstoppable forces of nature work their mineralogical magic…and now they’re covered in crystals!

Nah, jk.  (But wouldn’t that be enchanting?)  Ever wonder how to re-purpose and old phone book or an obsolete text book?  Well San Francisco-based installation artist/sculptor Alexis Arnold has come up with one clever way.  Grow crystals on them and create an amusing new addition to the world of book arts.  No, you can’t read them.  But they’re interesting to look at, aren’t they?  It reminds me of something done with those chemistry sets that nerdy 9-year-old kids love to play with, except much more artistically executed, with a great idea for a substrate.

A body of her other work, CV, and links can be found on her website at: http://www.alexisarnold.com/.

Book Carvings

To my way of thinking, the hallmark of any good piece of artwork is whether or not one is left with an awe-inspired sense of “what the…?”  In other words, the criteria upon which I judge quality art–like the piece or not–are based upon whether I’m left pondering a) how on God’s green earth did this person dream this concept up, and b) what in the hootenanny hell did they do to create it?

In the case of artist Guy Laramée and his brilliantly conceived landscape carvings FROM BOOKS, he has done just that.  I highly encourage anyone as intrigued by this uniquely novel (no pun intended) form of artistic expression to read the artist’s statement, which may glean some insight into criterion “a” above.  As for criterion “b” I’m left musing that the creation of these works entail some ingenious craftiness with digital imaging technologies and a CNC laser cutting machine.  In any case, what the…?!?!

El amor por las montañas nos curara. Carved Litré dictionary, inks. 43 x 14 x 27 (h) cm (15 x7 x11 inches). 2012

Visit the homepage of Guy Laramée for many more images, recent and past projects, biography, CV, etc.

Fore-Edge Paintings

About a month ago, I posted an entry about book paintings, describing one artist’s interesting use of books whereby stacks of these beloved objects were used as a “canvas” to be painted upon.  Well this time around, I report on a much more antiquated, subtle, and artistically crafted use of “book-as-canvas” known as fore-edge paintings.  The fore-edge of a book is the part of the text block opposite the spine, the edge of the leaves a reader thumbs through.  Fore-edge paintings, naturally, can allude to any painting on the fore-edge, but the most common usage of the term refers a “hidden art.”  In ABC for Book Collectors, John Carter describes this art as:

an English technique quite widely practiced in the second half of the 17th century in London and Edinburgh…whereby the fore-edge of the book, very slightly fanned out and held fast, is decorated with painted views or conversation pieces.  The edges are then squared up and gilded in the ordinary way, so that the painting remains concealed (and protected) while the book is closed:  fan out the edges and it reappears (108).

This video clip provides a quick demonstration:


For much more information on this wondrous book art, please be directed toward a website maintained by the Boston Public Library entitled On the Edge: The Hidden Art of Fore-Edge Book Painting, which highlights a special collection of more than 200 high-resolution images of fore-edge paintings housed in their Rare Books Department.  The site contains numerous articles written by expert bibliographers regarding historical and curatorial insight into the featured selections contained therein.


Carter, John and Nicolas Barker.  ABC for Book Collectors, 8th ed.  Delaware:  Oak Knoll Press.  2004.

Book Paintings

I’ve heard of art books.  I’ve heard of book arts.  I’ve heard of books on artists and artist books.  I’ve heard of art in books, but never have I heard on art on books…until now, that is.

Ever wonder what to do with all of those dusty volumes you’ve collected over the years, some you’ll never read again and some you’ll never get around to?  Rather than sell them to a used book shop or donate them to the local library or thrift store, Los Angeles-based artist Mike Stilkey has a creative solution…use them for a support to paint on and create wonderfully fresh installations at galleries.



More information, including many more photos of these eye catching artworks, can be found here.

Also, visit the artist’s website at www.mikestilkey.com.

Brooklyn’s Ringmasters of Monochrome Woodcut Follies

Their mission at Cannonball Press is a simple recipe:

  • 1 lurking artist
  • 1 one-eyed master printer
  • 1 idea
  • 5 cups backwater goo
  • 6 spoonfuls of jumpstart and holler
  • 9 lbs. mess with your face
  • 1 bottle Tickle-My-Fancy
  • 6 smatterings of kick-ass juice
  • 1 handful of Fine Art

Preheat idea in Oven of Rock.  Make sure color is off!  Allow images to gestate and contort at will.  When mysterious, funny, or twisted, remove and slap on table.  Add all ingredients, and beat and cut until smooth and hot.  Do not add Fine Art at this point.  Add master printer, work him into a steady boil, edition.  Throw Fine Art in trash.

Sign and serve.

Reviving a centuries-old craft of artistic reproduction in printmaking–relief woodcuts–this Brooklyn-based artist collective is actively churning out visually stimulating works of art with astonishing skill, craftsmanship, and originality.  Their output is high quality, black-and-white prints such as these:


"Overheard in NYC III" by Mike Houston

"Speakers" by Mike Houston

The founders of this funky printing press were awarded a USA Ford Fellowship in 2009.  Prints are available for sale at a very reasonable price on their website.

Infinite Jest

Cruikshank The Head Ache

George Cruikshank (British, 1792–1878). The Head Ache, February 12, 1819.

Above pictured is an example of what one will find at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current exhibition entitled “Infinite Jest:  Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine”, on view for only a few more days until March 4.  The images presented show remarkable works of social commentary and political satire from the past several centuries, showcasing amazing examples of printmaking in the form of woodcuts, engravings, and lithographs.

While the pieces hold their own as amusing artworks–simultaneously lifelike and completely un-lifelike!–they are imbued with true meaning through their descriptions, which flesh out the historical period in which they were created so as to breathe contextual life into their existence.  Many of the prints have never been exhibited, and aren’t widely known, except to specialists in the field.  This is, simply, amazing curation!

If you happen to be in the NYC area, do yourself a favor and stop by to check it out before it’s long gone!

I ♥ Public Art

Gage/Clemenceau Architects, Valentine to Times Square.

Just piggy-backing on a post from our friends at Flavorwire.com–which features a variety of fascinating feeds on subjects like art, books, music, design, film, television, and more–this post features 20 sculptures of the world’s most romantic public art.

Oh, oh yeah…Happy Valentine’s Day!


For those of you bibliographers, print-making historians, natural history enthusiasts, illustrators, graphic artists, and general appreciators of all things related to book arts, I would like to share one very well put together and amusing blog:  BibliOdyssey.  Among the tags chronicling the wonderfully rich and pedantically detailed postings you’ll find artistry, ephemera, fauna, flora, monsters, printing, science, and others.

Below is a sampling of a few striking images–all of which are reproductions originally printed in books–to be found on this blog.

Please enjoy!…

tori, maihouou, maitsuru, houou (animal - kamon)

Examples of "Kamon," i.e. Japanese family crests.

toucan illustration - coloured engraving

This hand-colored plate, an engraving of a toucan, was taken from 'Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux de Paradis et des Rolliers, Suivie de celle des Toucans et des Barbus' -- François Levaillant ; Jacques Barraband ; Perée, Jacques Louis ; Grémillier ; Bouquet, Louis, Paris : Denné le jeune / Perlet, 1806.

A fine example of a woodcut illustration printed in 'Monstrorum Historia' by Aldrovandi, first published in 1642.

“Withus oragainstus”

Renowned renegade artist, Banksy, known for his bold street art and radical stance on the “War on Terror,” sure pulled a fast one when he surreptitiously hung this mockery of a specimen of the harlequin beetle, Acrocinus longimanus, in the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Biodiversity.

“Withus oragainstus”

With glued on plastic sidewinder missiles under jet fighter wings and a satellite dish protruding near the antennae, the artist’s commentary on this piece suggests it is “an outsider’s view of the modern American bug, bristling with listening devices and military hardware.”  Allegedly, the prank was executed as the artist and his accomplices staged an ostentatious gay lover’s quarrel to distract security guards while the piece was mounted to a column in the Hall of Biodiversity with Velcro.  It inconspicuously hung there for 5 days before anyone noticed or took action to remove it.  As an indisputable unique artwork, the glass-encased specimen, “Withus oragainstus,” is now housed in the AMNH Research Library’s Rare Book Collection.

Click here for the cataloged AMNH OPAC record of this work…and here for a related article.  Also, visit  Banksy’s website.