Brad Brown/Lytle Shaw
Twelve variable monotype images printed on Somerset satin white 300 gram paper
Twelve poems printed from litho plates on handmade Tosa Gampi set in Avenir Next
Published by Mullowney Printing, San Francisco, CA
Printed by Erin McAdams, Wendy Liu, Harry Schneider, Max Valentine
Portfolio by John DeMerritt Bookbinding, Emeryville, CA
Edition of 10 with 6 artist proofs
This book is a series of mash notes from poetry to painting and back, from the present of pluralism to the fifties of high abstraction, and from Brad Brown and Lytle Shaw to Larry Rivers and Frank O’Hara, whose 1958 collaboration, Stones, operates as organizing structure. Though produced at the height of New York School abstraction, Stones cultivated a discredited language of figuration, a visual vocabulary that seemed to many at the time ahistorical, impossible, and thus a priori suspect—a bit like abstraction in 2019. Brown’s abstract monoprints thus pair with Rivers in an odd form of symmetry, pressing on abstraction when most viewers are uncomfortable with it, seeing abstraction as a “historical” language of art making. Still, Brown’s monoprints are anything but a simple return to 50s abstraction: instead, he subjects the expressive language of gestural abstraction to a series of perverse procedural rules, extending the spontaneous mark’s life over glacial periods that include transforming contact with non-artistic materials. Shaw’s poems, meanwhile, are also structured on a massive constraint: they use only O’Hara’s actual words from Stones, while recombining them in ways that allow reflection both on Brown’s monoprints and more broadly on the changed climate in which artist/poet collaborations now occur. As in an emblem book, each poem is paired with a short commentary. The language of these commentaries is not limited to O’Hara’s vocabulary and instead ranges freely and provocatively. As a whole, Mash Notes mobilizes a 60-year old interlocutor within poet/painter collaborations to reflect on the way that marginalized verbal and visual languages can question the aesthetic common sense of their historical moments.