BEASTS: An Alphabet of Fine Prints by Catherine Fuller

BEASTS: An Alphabet of Fine Prints

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Using an alphabestiary to introduce children to master prints may have seemed a good idea in the abstract but the present volume is no more successful than most hybrids. The selection is limited to black and white prints which eliminates many of the best 19th and 20th century examples that youngsters would most enjoy; it is limited to the holdings of two museums (The Cleveland Museum and the Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco) which have good but not the best collections; and it is limited to Western art which excludes many would-be candidates. Under the best circumstances finding an appropriate example for every letter of the alphabet would be difficult; here the compiler has been forced to stretch for some (Imaginary ok. Nonesuch beast, eXtraordinary animal), use prints with minute animal detail for others, use examples of peripheral artistic value and/or no interest to children for several. In each case, the print as a whole appears on the page opposite the letter, the animal removed from the print and blown up appears adjacent to the letter. Enlarging what is often a detail or, in the case of drypoints and etchings particularly, a sketchy figure, tends to falsify their appearance; removing them from the composition does this to some degree anyhow. Altogether, then, the result is unsatisfactory, and also unappealing to the reader.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1968
Publisher: Little, Brown