Discovering Images: Artist Books, "But a Bubble," and "Man: A Machine of Absurdities

PAGE FROM DRAWING BOOK--AMSTERDAM 2009

PAGE FROM DRAWING BOOK--AMSTERDAM 2009

The twenty-six dry point prints that constitute these two artist books are based upon hundreds of sketches, made of abandoned, dented and deformed bicycles, parked in long racks lining the streets of Amsterdam. I don’t know why I found the bikes a fascinating subject— perhaps because they were abandoned like orphans or ignored like pariahs? I recall that I was intrigued by their contorted forms, the way the tires were bent and twisted, often with the seat or frame still intact. I filled drawing books and sketch pads with their shapes without knowing what secret meaning the drawings held for me.

MARKET FORCES: ECO SERIES. 47 X 53'. ACRYLIC ON CANVAS.1999.

MARKET FORCES: ECO SERIES. 47 X 53'. ACRYLIC ON CANVAS.1999.

Perhaps I was attracted because the bikes related to a series of work I completed ten years earlier, work based on how the economy is  visually represented. In this early work, called Economics Series, I used pie charts, bar graphs, line charts and other visual economic descriptors. The work included many circles, a shape shared by the  bicycles.

I spent nearly two years working and re-working the forms in these bicycle drawings. I varied their size and scale, moved forms around the composition, varied the qualities of the lines, and juxtaposed forms in new and unusual ways. I sketched continually, even on the subway. My purpose was to find compositions that were unusual but evocative, to see how far I could go with the subject. 

Eventually, I took a selection of the drawings and used the compositions to make prints. At the print shop where I worked, my fellow print makers asked me to explain their meanings. “I have no idea,” I said. “Their meanings will have to wait until they reveal themselves.” I waited yet another year to learn their secrets.

See my forthcoming blog “Finding Meanings."

PRINT FROM "BUT A BUBBLE." 8 X 10". TEXT IN INDIA INK.

PRINT FROM "BUT A BUBBLE." 8 X 10". TEXT IN INDIA INK.