Over the past 3 + decades John Yau has produced prints, drawings, paintings and artist’s books in collaboration with more than 40 artists. Yau and Hull, longtime friends and colleagues, decided to collaborate on a project together in advance of an exhibition being mounted by the University of Kentucky Art Museum: Disguise The Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations With Artists, scheduled to open in 2024.
Loosely following the format of “wanted” posters from the old Wild West, Yau provided pithy snippets of text to which Hull responded with an image. Yau used a Sharpie marker to write his phrases on the back side of rectangular plexiglas plates, then flipped them over to the printing side to flesh them out with color. Hull drafted his signature head-and-shoulder abstracted portraits on a larger plate. The three plates were placed together and printed in one pass through the press for the initial impression, then printed again with greater pressure on a fresh sheet of paper to create a second “ghost” or cognate impression.
Each print in the “Wanted!” series contains a message. Some call for “more eyes on” lesser known/under recognized artists like John D. Graham, Miyoko Ito and Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa, another is a lamentation for “The Lost Movies Of Anna May Wong”, the first Chinese-American film star whose career was diminished due to stereotyping and Hays Code censorship. Others, such as the ecstatic ”I Dreamed Of A Thousand Tongues Wagging And Singing In The Sky/Philip Guston”, and “Giorgio Guston/Philip de Chirico are odes to favorite artists, and a humorous play on words is evident in “Wanted: Juan Ted”. Hull’s abstract heads evoke humor, anxiety, exasperation or pathos and become a visual phraseology to Yau’s writing, or as Yau states, “something weirdly funny, slightly disturbing, oddly comical, and a tad creepy.”
above, clockwise from upper left: “Wanted: More Eyes On John D. Graham”; “Wanted: The Lost Movies Of Anna May Wong II”; “Wanted: A Lavish Biopic Of Sessue Hayakawa I”; ” I Dreamed Of A Thousand Tongues Wagging And Singing In The Sky/Phillip Guston II”.
The 23 prints in the “Wanted!” series are approximately 30” x 22” on Arches Cover, Tiepolo, Lana Gravure and Khadi papers. The artists used R&F Pigment Sticks and Caran D’Ache water soluble crayons to make the prints. Each print is signed by both artists and impressed with the Manneken Press blind stamp on the front lower margin. This project is published by Manneken Press.
About the artists:
John Yau is a New York-based American poet and critic who has published over 50 books of poetry, artist’s books, fiction, and art criticism. Yau has received numerous awards including the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the 2018 Jackson Poetry Prize, the American Poetry Review Jerome Shestack Award, and a 1988 New York Foundation for the Arts Award. He is also the recipient of a 1977 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowships, and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Yau has authored books on artists such as Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, created artist’s books in collaboration with Richard Tuttle and Squeak Carnwath among others, and collaborated with artists including Pat Steir and Archie Rand. An exhibition of Yau’s collaborations with artists will be mounted by the University of Kentucky Art Museum in 2024.
Yau was the arts editor for The Brooklyn Rail and is currently an editor at the online arts publication Hyperallergic. In 1999 Yau established Black Square Editions which is devoted to publishing translations of little known books by well-known poets and fiction writers, as well as the work of emerging and established authors.
Richard Hull is a Chicago-based painter whose work has been exhibited extensively. Hull joined the legendary Phyllis Kind Gallery before graduating from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 1979 and showed numerous times in her New York City and Chicago locations. Richard Hull has had more than 40 one-person shows and his work is included in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; the Smart Museum, Chicago, Neuberger Museum of Art, Westchester NY, the Nerman Museum, Kansas City, and the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC. Manneken Press has published Hull’s etching editions and monotypes since 2015. Richard Hull’s solo exhibition “Mirror and Bone” is currently on view in Chicago at Western Exhibitions through April 22nd.
Video and studio image courtesy of Gary Justis.