Representing the Word: Modern Book Illustrations

January 29–July 31, 2013
Ripin Print Gallery

The practice of illustration is as old as writing itself: both forms of expression originated in the pictograph. In the modern era, literary texts have been a frequent point of departure for artists. This exhibition features works from the AMAM collection designed by visual artists of the 19th and 20th centuries to illustrate texts. Among the series on view are William Blake’s engravings for the Book of Job, Edouard Manet’s lithographs for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Claire Leighton’s wood engravings for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Oskar Kokoschka’s lithographs for William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

While some of the works in Representing the Word were created to signify specific, critical moments of a narrative to accompany a printed book edition, others merely took the text as a point of departure, generating varied compositions in response to the written word. First-edition books on loan from the Oberlin College Library collections offer the opportunity to consider several of the illustrations in their originally-intended form.

This exhibition was curated by Denise Birkhofer, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Clare Leighton (English, 1900–1989)
On the Moors, from the series Wuthering Heights, 1930
Wood engraving
Gift of Mrs. Malcolm L. McBride, 1944.108