Richard Minsky has been making and remaking artists’ books for over fifty years. He founded the Center for Book Arts in 1974, his work has been shown around the world and remains in public collections, including the National Gallery of Art and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Minsky has received many fellowships, grants and awards of recognition, including several from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his tremendous work is documented in The Book Art of Richard Minsky, published by George Braziller Inc. in the year 2011.
His new book – recently released – is a piece of art in itself and a documentation of a unique and fascinating field of collecting: American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933. In the preface Richard Minsky writes:
“I knew very little about Native American history, and each book was a revelation. Several categories emerged of covers that represented different aesthetic paradigms and different approaches to the subject. There are decorative Indian motifs used by well-known cover designers, book covers designed by Indian artists, covers presenting stereotypical representations of Indians, propaganda against marauding savages, propaganda from missionaries and humanitarians, propaganda by Indians, juvenile adventure stories, books written by Indians to preserve oral history and culture, poetry, prehistoric fiction, autobiographies, travelogues, and more. Seen together, these book covers give a visual representation from many perspectives of Native American cultures and their relationships with those who came from abroad.”
Minsky collects the works of cover artists like Margaret Armstrong, Frank Hazenplug, the Decorative Designers, Thomas Watson Ball, Angel de Cora, Bright Eyes, and many others. Each artist is introduced, his works are thoroughly described and illustrated. In addition to Tribal art, the covers include the evolution of Modernism from late Victorian through Eastlake, Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Poster style, and Art Deco. There are decorative, symbolic, and pictorial covers depicting cultures from the Arctic to South America, and times from prehistoric to the early 20th century, and also: includes captivity narratives, autobiographies, frauds, ethnographic works, myths, travelogues, propaganda, songs, dance, romance novels, and juvenile fiction.
A great work. A must-have!
American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933. Collected and Described by Richard Minsky. Stockport, New York, Richard Minsky 2014.
The Deluxe Edition cover features a recessed cloth cover panel reproducing the unsigned cover design for The Indians' Book, by Natalie Curtis, Harper and Brothers, © 1923; Revised edition. The design is likely by Angel de Cora (Hinook Mahiwi Kilinaka, Winnebago).
For more information please visit the official website and have a look inside the book!
Picture: Richard Minsky