Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble is the third project that brings 21st Editions together with Josephine Sacabo, one of the most talented artists working today.

Upon my visit to New Orleans earlier in 2012 Josephine escorted me to the Ogden Museum to walk me through her retrospective exhibition of photogravure and silver gelatin prints. The proposal for Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble happened there at the center of that exhibition.

This rather new format, 21st Editions emphasizes a collection of ten signed chine-collé photogravures printed at the artist’s studio with an accompanying book illustrated with 10 signed platinum prints.

We suspect that with the advent of polymer plates, as opposed to copper plates, hand-pulled photogravure is now at the beginning of a renaissance. Known for its capacity to handle an extremely broad tonal range, hand-pulled photogravure equals the inherent quality that is found in an expertly executed platinum print. Not to be confused with rotogravure or sheet fed gravure, hand-pulled photogravures are labor intensive. The hand-pulled photogravure was a process preferred by photographic masters Alfred Stieglitz (Camera Work), Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, and Alvin Langdon Coburn (New York  and  London), as well as being the medium of preference for the The Journal of Contemporary Photography, the Deluxe and Museum series that gave birth to 21st Editions.

Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble is comprised of original hand-pulled photogravures printed on Japanese tissue, a rarer photogravure process requiring great skill and known as chine-collé:

“A technique in printmaking in which the image is transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process. The purpose is to allow the printmaker to print on a more delicate surface, such as rice paper or linen, which pulls finer details off the plate. During printing, a glue is applied to the back of the paper (a paste made of rice flour and water being traditional), and then the heavier support (typically, the heavyweight paper normally found in printmaking) is placed on top. Under the pressure of the press, the lighter surface is glued to the support simultaneously with the image printing on it.” (from Art of the Photogravure: www.photogravure.com)

For this project, 21st Editions editor and co-founder John Wood enlisted the talents of Keagan LeJeune to construct 14 poems inspired by the Sacabo’s images.

In addition to being one of our finest contemporary poets, LeJeune is also a distinguished Louisiana folklorist, author of Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War, a study of an early 20th Century, Louisiana outlaw who was a Robin Hood-type hero.  He is also a Professor of English Literature and Folklore at McNeese University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he serves as Director of Graduate Studies in English.

Josephine Sacabo

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