Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Pogány Book out from Dover

As promised...
When I started posting these entries back in February, my first comments were on a book that I have the highest regards for, as a book design, and as a collection of illustration—Willy Pogany's edition of Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It was nearby because I was in the midst of a large project to pull together some of Pogány's best illustration work. This week the book was just made available on Dover Publishing's website, and within a few days, it will be available elsewhere.

If you are not familiar with Pogány, (1882-1955) you are not alone. (Jim Vadeboncoeur's Pogany bio at Bud Plant is a good start) His most revered works are nearly a century old, and I am not aware of any serious attempt to reprint them, largely do to the complex methods originally used to achieve a wide variety of full color and partial color images. The cost of printing with these methods today would be astronomical. As I said months ago, if you can find a copy (in that rare-and-out-of print-bookstore) , ask to take a look at it. You will not go away without a new appreciation for Pogány.

What makes Pogány remarkable, is that whatever creative path he went down in his life-long career, he made it work. When British publishing was looking for the best new talents in book illustration, enter Willy Pogány. When art-deco was the look the public craved, he had no trouble simplifying and streamlining. When Hollywood became the next big means of visual storytelling, Pogány was there. Some will argue that his work feels more dated than that of his contemporaries, I think his work is more period. It reflects the taste of the era it was done in. It was Pogány's ability to change with the times that kept his career healthy his whole life.

Pogány did book work throughout his whole career, producing an amazing list of titles, and a unique portfolio of images. With this new title from Dover, I hope to bring him a bit of the respect I think he is due, and bring his vision to a generation of illustration fans that would have previously found it very difficult to obtain.

Top to bottom-
The title page of Tannhauser, 1911. Scanned and printed in 4-color process today, it was printed in 6 colors on a dark gray stock back in the day.

They instantly changed into snow-white birds, The Fairies and the Christmas Child, 1912. Makes me want to read the story....

Siegfried captures Ludegast, Myths and Legends of the Middle Ages, 1909. DIAGONALS.

Cadmus followed the Brindled Cow, from A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, 1909. Great illustration of an ordinary thing...

On the hill-top stands one old Oak-tree.... The Tale of Lohengrin, 1913. What a tree!

Next week- another new release, over a year in the making....

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