Dec 18th, 2020 – Feb 28th, 2021
“Bookish” is the new Susan Hensel art exhibition and her latest work is a continuation and evolution of her renowned artist books. In the new online series titled Bookish, she presents fabric and multi-media pieces that depict the book liberated by Hensel’s vision and veneration, picking up themes from past work and developing fresh perspectives. The series represents the deep reservoir of ideas and approaches born out of a long relationship between an artist and her subject matter. Discover “Bookish” – a Susan Hensel art exhibition.
The Process Behind This Susan Hensel Art Exhibition
Due to the long hours and painstaking demands on scribes recreating books before the printing press, their output was limited to what the culture felt was most dear and divine. The illuminated manuscript was an artistic outpouring into the pages, a celebration of the wisdom inside, a book as a work of art.
Gutenberg’s press transformed the book into one of the first mass-produced consumer products. What once were handmade objects created out of profound reverence and attention to detail were now commodities that could be sold by the dozen. When Gutenberg printed his famous blackletter bible around the year 1455, it came at the end of an arduous process of design and typesetting, but it marked the desacralization of the book itself.
This metamorphosis created a fissure in the history of writing — on the one side stands the sacred art and craft of presenting texts, on the other the unstoppable march of industrialization.
The printing press facilitated widespread literacy and launched a thousand revolutions in thought. This new popular relation to the book created a different kind of holiness. No longer was any one book so important, but the book as an idea was now a living spirit in the masses.
Hensel’s Bookish picks up this legacy and turns it inside-out, using the archetypal physical definition and features of the book as a jumping-off point for exploration. It plays with this public relationship with the form, a well worn warm regard for the treasures of reading, and reconnects it with the more ancient legacy of the book as a one-of-a-kind art object that is valuable in itself.
But this is not merely swinging the pendulum backward out of nostalgia, because Hensel’s books are no longer carriers of the written word but works read in a protean, three-dimensional language. Her’s is a sculptural alphabet deciphered more by intuition and feeling than sounding out.
While Hensel’s previous experiments with the book were anchored to the original form, Bookish presses into the unexplored. Just as the name suggests, these pieces are like their inspiration, but they have become fully their own creations. That is what makes this Susan Hensel art exhibition so incredible.
The Color Pallettes
In both resplendent and sepia palettes, Hensel’s pieces explore a vast landscape of possibilities: mountain ridges, geometric eruptions, Memphis-style forms, curious fans that are pulled and deformed by pendants, and — on the conservative side — illust