It seems somewhat rich of me to sit here at a computer tapping away at a keyboard writing an article about how handwriting is a lost art. But, I am, and it is, and the current Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art exhibition on the handwriting of influential artists warrants no less of a wildly hypocritical gesture.
The show gives viewers the rare occasion to nose at what Lee Krasner wrote in her last letter to Jackson Pollock before his untimely death, and to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s swirly script in notes to Cady Wells. Even better, each of the forty-two letters in the show has also been documented in a digital archive which is available to view in its entirety online, alongside a short analysis of each artist’s character by handwriting experts. Isamu Noguchi, Marcel Duchamp and Willem de Kooning are all up there, with doodles, tiny drawings, collage and some painfully telling grammatical techniques; Lee Krasner’s heartbreaking parenthesis “(How are you, Jackson?)” at the foot of her lengthy report on the state of Paris’ art scene seems to divulge decades of sadness and torment at the hands of her lover, for example. The commentary is no less interesting, pairing up what we already know about these leading figures in the art world with wild estimations judged from how they dot their i’s and cross their t’s. A nosy note-writer’s dream.
The Art of Handwriting is at the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture until October 27.
- Take the Jack Sachs animated tour of the Tate Britain, and meet his odd CG characters along the way
- The effortlessly lovely hand-drawn illustrations of Paula Bulling
- Kii Monroe Arens' delicious gig posters
- Alex Paulus’ paintings are full of misshapen characters in odd situations
- Taiwanese graphic designer Wang Zhi-Hong’s sublime cover designs
- Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris dissect the album covers of calypso singer Mighty Sparrow
- Wes Anderson directs H&M Christmas advert starring Adrien Brody
- The New Look: Looking back at Roundel’s 1980s identity design for British Rail’s Railfreight
- Discussing cinema with Laura Marling on her directorial debut, Soothing
- London’s first crisp restaurant, Hipchips, launches with branding by Ragged Edge
- Richard Sandler’s street photography conveys the intricacies of city life
- A "stress opus" from cartoonist Nadine Redlich