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We move from the love of the man-made to the love of (wo)man. The human body has long been revered and glorified by artists and writers alike. In each of the following two books, a collaboration of artist and writer has produced a stunning and lyrical encomium of the intimacies of the cherished body.

In Every Breath, Suzanne Moore overlays her expressive abstract painting with text from the poet Gregory Orr’s book Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved. Using her own free-flowing lettering, Moore incorporates words from the poem into the paintings, gracefully integrating text and form.

The text of Orr’s poems is hand-lettered on both sides of translucent paper, allowing the viewer to see a veiled image of text in reverse and the obscured composition of the following page.

In China, the joining of painting, calligraphy and poetry is known as the “three perfections” and is considered the ultimate in artistic achievement. This triumvirate of Moore’s one-of-a-kind book – sweeping brushstrokes and ribbon-like lettering working in harmony with Orr’s lush poetry – embodies this description with exquisite balance.

Every Breath

Suzanne Moore; text by Gregory Orr

The nine luminous images in Mikio Watanabe’s Radieuse may look like photographs that have been carefully manipulated to nudge the highlights into a soft luster and the darks into velvety, tenebrous shadows. But they are in fact mezzotints, a famously time-consuming process in which the artist must repeatedly move a rocker, a curved tool with many small teeth, over the surface of a copper plate to produce countless tiny divots. Eventually this arduous process produces a print displaying innumerable shades of black and gray, a voluptuous effect not possible in any other etching technique. With mezzotint the term “labor of love” is far more than a mere casual expression.

Radieuse celebrates the human body. After Watanabe created the images, the poet Gilbert Lascault responded with the text. The form of the text, composed and printed on letterpress by Michael Caine, echoes the forms of the body depicted in the mezzotint. In the image shown here, the curve of the text undulates in harmony with the curve of the legs and, by careful attention to negative space, weds the text to the overall composition.

Mikio Watanabe; text by Gilbert Lascault

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