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More than Words
Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
Liza Kirwin

ISBN 9781568985237
Publication date 10/1/2005
8 x 10 inches (20.3 x 25.4 cm), Hardcover
272 pages, 120 color illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 10; (-9.9)

This book is Out of Print


Words can speak volumes, but, as every letter writer knows, there are times when they simply won't do. And when the author happens to be a visual artist, the results can be both intimate and transcendent. This book is a testament to those occasions, a compilation of personal letters by some of America's most revered artists, each one adorned with an illustration. Writing to wives, lovers, friends, patrons, clients, and confidants are such revered artists as Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Frida Kahlo, Andrew Wyeth, Rockwell Kent, Lyonel Feininger, John Sloan, Alfred Frueh, Man Ray, Eero Saarinen, Alexander Calder, Gio Ponti, and Andy Warhol. Sometimes humorous, sometimes extravagant, but always revealing and intimate, they picture the world around them in charming vignettes, landscapes, portraits, and caricatures. Together with their words, these autobiographical works of art created for private consumption reveal the joys and successes, loves and longings, disappointments and frustrations of their authors' lives.

These riveting artifacts are drawn from the collection of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, the largest repository of artists' papers in the nation, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2005.

Liza Kirwin is the curator of manuscripts at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Editorial Reviews

Reno New & Review:
"If things like drawing, snail mail and, especially, penmanship are starting to seem anachronistic, this annotated compendium of letters written by artists makes a case for not letting the art of letter-writing fade into oblivion. . . . More Than Words is a big bowl of small candies for the vicariously minded and a reminder that a small assertion of creativity can resonate for a century."

American Craft:
"The correspondence provides an intimate view of the artists' social world. "

Wall Street Journal:
"This book's delights lie not in gawping at famous people's private correspondence but in savoring the wit and affection displayed by letter-writers casually putting their visual talents to work. Today, when illustrating a communicatgion is likely to mean adding a smiley-face emoticon to an instant message, More Than Words arrives like a letter from a long-lost friend."

American Style:
"In today's world of instant communication, it takes a book like More Than Words to remind us of the joys of an old-fashioned letter...Take this opportunity to relive events through artists' eyes, and be a part of intimately transcribed moments that are so rarely revealed."

Art New England:
"Produced to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the book is a beautifully reproduced selection of some of the highlights of the collection . . . . the examples show a range of ways of responding to a sheet of paper with text, painting, and collage. "

London Review of Books:
"This is a fascinating collection of illustrated letters from many of America's best known artists."

"Witty, warm missives."

"These doodles show artists--some well-known, others more obscure--being relaxed and goofy. They're also a testament to family ties and friendship."

The Torch:
"Kirwin's compendium of more than 90 personal and business letters shows the quiky, often charming and always immensely imaginative nature of artists, including Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Andrew Wyeth, Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol . . . the book captures the intensely individual sketches drawn by generations of artists compelled to complement their written communiques with art."

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