What do you get when you combine the high point of one of the top fine press book publishers of the last 50 years with a collaborative work including two Nobel Prize for Literature winners, one of the greatest Mexican born modernist painters in generations and eleven of Mexico’s greatest poets from the last five hundred years? A unique and special livre d’artist of the highest quality, good enough to be in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, that belongs on any list of ‘top ten’ best fine press productions in decades.
The Yolla Bolly Press is one of the greatest American fine press producers of the last century. From the creative genius of James and Carolyn Robertson, Yolla Bolly produced some amazing books (see here, here, here, here and here where you will see evidence of this claim), with The Bread of Days arguably being the pinnacle of their work.
The Bread of Days really is one brilliant production, being more or less completely hand-made. Handmade paper, hand-set type, letterpress on hand-fed press, hand-bound, multi-color etchings tipped by hand into the book…you get the point (and will get it even more when you see the macro pictures below). Translation of the poems are from the great Irish writer and Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett. Another Nobel Prize winner and one of Mexico’s greatest ever writers, Octavio Paz, provides notes on the poets and commentary, and well-respected contemporary author Eliot Weinberger also provides additional commentary.
The Bread of Days includes 12 full page etchings by Enrique Chagoya, an important Mexican born artist, whose modernist work is in permanent collections of many of the top museums in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D. C.) and the Art Institute of Chicago. Chagoya currently teaches at Stanford University. His etchings are certainly modern, and could be a turn off for those who do not appreciate the style. I am not a fan of modernism or post-modernism, but there is no questioning his skill (see the ‘macro of sample illustration 4’ below), influence or appropriateness as the right artist for this edition. In fact, like often happens with works like this, I have grown to appreciate, even like, the illustrations, especially after reading the text that they illuminate.
My understanding is that Carolyn Robertson at The Yolla Bolly Press still has a couple of these available, in brand new condition. You can reach her at 707.983.6740 or here. Now read the details on the book and feast your eyes on the pictures below!
About the Edition
- Designed by and printed for James and Carolyn Robertson at the Yolla Bolly Press in 1994
- Translation by Samuel Beckett
- 12 full page etchings by Enrique Chagoya
- Notes on the Poets by Octavio Paz
- Text printed entirely by letterpress
- Presswork done by Aaron Johnson
- Verse set in hand in the Bembo types at the Press by Jocelyn Webb
- Text pages printed from the type at the Press by Aaron Johnson on a hand fed Colts Armory Press
- English text printed on mouldmade Zerkall Halbmatt
- Spanish text printed on Twinrocker Chapin, handmade for this edition
- Etchings printed by Jesus Romero and Curtis Patience on Lana Royal from France
- Binding structure, to lay flat, designed by Julie Chen
- Renee Menge bound the book by hand
- Covers are split boards covered in handmade Italian Roma paper with a printed image by Enrique Chagoya
- Enclosed in fabric slipcase
- 144 pages, 10″ x 12.75″
- 121 copies offered for sale, mine is #57
- Signed by Paz, Chagoya and Weinberger
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