Image Spaces by Vera Frenkel (1971) (signed)
small edition book with photo silkscreen / metallic ink book jacket
8 x 6 x ⅝ inches
publisher / typographer: Bob Burdett
reproduced by: Robert Marsh
Image Spaces, a collection of Vera Frenkel's poems and graphics, was published by Round-stone Press (Toronto) in 1971 and launched as part of Printmaking Plus/Métagravure, two National Gallery of Canada touring exhibitions of her prints and print structures. Frenkel is caught in the multiple refractions of her own work, in the mirrored vinyl inserts of her prints, in the self-revelation of her poems—intimate as love letters which the reader holds shyly.
"Nearly half a century ago, it heralded an interweaving of image and narrative that characterized my work from early videos to later multi-channel installations and websites." — Vera Frenkel, 2020
"Vera, in her first awakenings as to why she wanted to produce this book felt 'images should create privacy, should evoke self containment without exclusivity' … and she has accomplished this and more. There is a vastness in her black and white art — a binding to the never-nothing through squares and juxtaposed rectangles trailing linear shapes. Within her poetry there is a certain violence and tearing apart of self-fragments — fragments of subtle violence, like a film strip that doesn’t quite come off. Mysteriously charted, Image Spaces tries to make the reader splice the unknown. One can’t, but its worth the effort to try and solve Vera’s riddle."
Review by Gloria Smedmor, Art Magazine, Vol. 3, Fall 1971
"[...] They believe a book should set itself out to stimulate, aggravate, woo or boggle the mind with its word content. Right. But they believe a book should sound well. (When the pages are rippled, it should sing something to the ear.) It should feel distinctive to the hand. (The sound and feel of paper is proportionately enhanced, as a rule, by the cost of its handmade perfection.) A book should weigh in ratio to its measurements. (Not a coffee table slab, full of emptiness.) The smell of its ink should evoke memory and the shape of its type delight the eye.
The three responsible for Image Spaces, recently published by Roundstone Press, have been close to target. The slim book encased in shiny white cover, contains the poetry and graphics of Vera Frenkel, Toronto printmaker and teacher. The type was handset by Bob Burdett, publisher and typographer, who operated Roundstone Press in Montreal and Toronto. The book was reproduced by Robert Marsh, a British Master Printer working in Toronto.
[…] The three have made Image Spaces a medieval concept of craftsmanship. The idea of working together on a publication was spontaneously arrived at after Miss Frenkel’s exhibition, Mirror Prints at Gallery Pascal in April, 1970. Here she explored the idea of the viewer and the viewed. The same concept of image and reflection moves through the pages, linking her exquisitely understated graphics to her equally understated word imagery.
The prints like apertures into what? Memory? Another country?—flow through and behind her poems. Past relationships have been honed into a phrase, personal experience sifted in with mature control. Miss Frenkel’s simple, evocative words deserve and were given a framework to match."
Kay Kritzwiser, "A book with more than reading," The Globe and Mail, Tuesday September 14, 1971
“There is a true synthesis here. It is hard to separate the poems from the drawings (who would want to?) for they are very much a part of each other. The poems and drawings are intertwined on deep levels of feeling and line.
It is a humble yet audacious book. Humble in its subtle visual presence, and audacious in what it undertakes.
The book as an art object is satisfying, and at times deeply moving. The drawings are fragile, full of light and mystery. The qualities of gouache, pencil, ink all come through clearly in the printing. One might note, as an example of the complete concern with which this book was made, how the texture of the paper had much the same texture as the quality of drawing texture employed by the artist.
The book has fold-outs here and there which create an extended and lyrical space, in which the drawings reach out and spread beyond the basic size of the pages.
There are many unusual aspects to the book, unusual and important for the masterful way in which it forms poems and drawings, artist and artisan, book and sculpture.”
Leonie Goldberg, “'True synthesis’ in art book," the galleries, 1971
“Both in her poems and pictures, her prosody is impeccable; she is modest, wise and compassionate. Dealing with spaces, the shell of her being becomes transparent.
In her latest work, she rids herself of all artifice; starting from the emptiness, she has begun again to build the meaning of her work. Working with love and great care, as she says in her poem ‘Having Denied My History,'
‘… I bend to build roots
with a special woodknotting technique
known only to the stubbornest of trees.’”
Anthony Thorn, "Gallery Goers Guide," Toronto Citizen, September 16, 1971
“Visually, Image Spaces is black and white tempered with tones of greys, consistent with the colours the artist has been working in during the past four years. There are intended inconsistencies in spacing and layout of type and graphics to mirror the concept of Image Spaces. The pages are purposely not numbered (there are about 60). This creates the flow in which the book should be read – to be experienced in its harmonious entirety.
All the pages are worked together – some are left blank as pauses between images and poetry. The poems and graphics, experienced in their entirety, reflect a crystallization process – their visual rhythms evolve through a cycle from beginnings and childhood to a final vision of unity.”
Sarah E. McCutcheon, "A return to the beginnings of publishing," The Gazette, 1971
“The same refinement is evident in the book Image Spaces, born of six months of collaboration between publisher Bob Burdett, who handset the type; artist's printer Robert Marsh; and Vera Frenkel. Compressed poems cast white shadows, long silences that lead rhythmically into graphics. Their hinged fold-out forms and wide tonal range, even to palest ash, represent a technical tour de force. Reproduced from hand-worked offset plates these dramatic or subliminal images capture the quality of original prints in a popular edition format.”
Review of Vera Frenkel: Printmaking Plus, The National Gallery of Canada Extension Services, May 1971 - June 1972, by Joan Lowndes. To read the full review please click here.