Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eric Gill at USF

Drawn from USF’s Albert Sperisen Collection, the over 100 works in “Eric Gill Iconographer” primarily represent wood engravings completed between 1910 to 1940. These were commonly completed on boxwood using carving tools and were printed in limited editions using letterpress technology. Original engraving blocks and publications are also on display.        

Eric Gill was one of the most colorful and eccentric figures in early 20th century art. Sculptor, typographer, and writer, it was his superb line and strong graphic sense that have made his work so sought after.

"Letters are things, not pictures of things."

"Lettering is a precise art and strictly subject to tradition. The New Art notion that you can make letters whatever shapes you like, is as foolish as the notion, if anyone has such a notion, that you can make houses any shapes you like. You can't, unless you live all by yourself on a desert island".

 "Yet, as years go by, Eric Gill becomes more, not less, unsettling. His out of control sexuality, his flouting of societal norms regarding incest taboos make huge demands on those who admire his art. From today's perspective his work looks even better: his sculpture truly radical; his woodcuts and engravings instantly engaging, with an often astonishing ebullience of line; his lettering clear, confident and hugely influential on the development of modern type design. The world has now caught up with many of Gill's wider views: his fury at the "art nonsense" perpetrated by the fashionable London dealers; his hatred of bad workmanship and luxury and waste. His powerful religious sculptures have a wonderful contemporary resonance."

But the more we understand of the prevalence of child abuse, the more reprehensible Gill's personal morality becomes. Just what do we do with Eric Gill? Should we, CAN WE, just appreciate at his superb work without ethical or moral judgments? Separating the work of an artist from his or her life can sometimes be a conundrum; it's all the more difficult with Eric Gill.

November 5-December 20, 2009
Donohue Rare Book Room, 3rd Floor Gleeson Library
October 11-December 20, 2009
Thacher Gallery at USF

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