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Black Swans by Maurice R. Bebb. Aquatint, 1953.
A Graphic Sanctuary
For Animals, Birds, and a Few Fish
Curated by William J. Dane
May 8 - June 2000

An exhibition celebrating a wide variety of creatures sharing planet Earth is currently on view in the galleries of The Newark Public Library. The visual project is entitled “A Graphic Sanctuary for Animals, Birds and a few Fish,” with about 200 works of graphic art especially selected from The Fine Print Collection of The Library. Scores of artists from around the world have created these creatures on paper in an extraordinary variety of interpretations and techniques. The primary purpose of this gathering is to further appreciate the incredible gift of multiplicity of life with which Mother Nature has graced our planet. This carefully selected zoo is designed to appeal to young visitors as well as to adults of all vintage in complete sympathy with the spirit of preservation which is currently of importance to many, many people both in the United States and around the globe.
Fox by Agnes Miller Parker. Wood engraving, 1940.

The prints and related materials are all drawn from The Library’s extensive print holdings and are chiefly by artists who worked over the past two centuries. Probably the most famous are chromolithographs of birds by John James Audubon who meticulously drew birds of North America with incredible accuracy and beauty resulting in world famous renditions. Six of these very large prints are in the display. They are part of an edition printed in New York in 1860 and were donated to the Library in 1933 by Mrs. William Clark of Newark. The early 19th century French artist, Gericault, was noted for his depiction and love of horses and they are included in the show along with flying birds by the Dutch mathematician and artist, Maurits Escher, and a few works by the very popular American painter and printmaker, LeRoy Neiman. His prints include a large serigraph showing two fighting polar bears, a rodeo scene with horses, a family of panthers in repose and a splendid etched black and white depiction of a Dalmatian dog.

Bucking Bronco by LeRoy Neiman. Serigraph, 1977.
Owl by Nora Herz. Woodblock print.

The curator of this zoological trek, William J. Dane, who is also the Keeper of Prints at The Library, commented that “variety of many animals, birds and a few fish was the goal in selecting the great prints for public enjoyment.” The following animals by various artists of the past two centuries may be viewed: donkeys, goats, buffalo, pigs, lions, panthers, monkeys, mice and sheep, cattle and hares from barnyard settings in addition to the always treasured and perennial favorites such as cats, dogs and horses in quantity. Feathered friends include poultry, parrots, crows, egrets, pigeons gulls, woodpeckers and the nocturnal owl.
Summer Pasture by Antonio Frasconi. Color wood engraving, 1955.

In a striking historic print, General Ulysses Grant is shown driving a prize winning race horse, “Dexter”, rapidly down the Bloomingdale Road in New York in 1868. In a small but memorable print by Nathaniel Currier, the Biblical Adam is shown naming earth’s creatures as they parade before him in a lithograph which was later hand tinted in blue and green watercolors. This work was published several years before Currier joined forces and business talents with James Ives to print thousands of highly popular images which adorned American parlors throughout the 2nd half of the 19th century.

The covers of nineteenth century sheet music with creatures include racing horses pulling antique fire engines, colorful birds lined up for a song entitled, “Jenny Lind’s Song”, and a rampant eagle on a patriotic song published just before the Civil War in 1859, plus an elongated sea serpent with a human head as a lure for the public to buy a polka published in New Orleans. Movable and pop-up books depict Peter Rabbit, animals showing off their finery as published by The National Geographic Society, animals in disguise as a survival technique and the most stunning pop-up creatures in “The Movable Mother Goose” created by Robert Sabuda of New York in a relatively new publication published in 1999 for the delight and enjoyment of movable book enthusiasts.

Illustrated books are also in this show such as the late Edward Gorey’s drawings for T.S. Eliot’s poems about cats which were used as the basic story for the longest running Broadway show entitled simply “CATS.” The pochoir color screen process is represented by stunning and accurate depictions of insects and butterflies as drawn by E. Seguy from Paris. These much admired designs were later used in Art Deco fabrics and a wide assortment of surface designs for enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A few illustrated books with Japanese prints (ehon) and dating back over 150 years are also on display and they give viewers drawings of oxen, doves, giant fish, geese and exotic birds in full feather.
Butterflies by Eugene Seguy. Pochoir print.
American Flamingo by John James Audubon. Chromolithograph, 1860.

Among the one hundred or more artists represented are prints by New Jersey artists including Carolyn Keskulla, Nora Herz, Lois Morrison, Riva Helfond and Audubon himself who spent some time in Camden and Great Egg Harbor in 1829.

The exhibition is open during regular Library hours and is free to all without any fee or admission charges. For additional details, please call 973-733-7745.

 

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