June 13, 2010

Art: This man has illustrated every page of Gravity's Rainbow

Speaking of quixotic Pynchon projects, this artist Zak Smith has created an illustration for every page of Gravity's Rainbow. (That's a dense, difficult 760 page postmodern novel, often displayed unread on college dorm room book shelves.) Here's Mr Smith's writer's statement:

So I illustrated Gravity's Rainbow-- nobody asked me to, but I did it anyway. Most of the pictures are drawings-- ink on whatever paper was lying around, but there are also paintings (acrylic), photos I took, and experimental photographic processes. I tried to illustrate the passages as literally as possible-- if the book says there was a green Spitfire, I drew a green Spitfire. Mostly, I tried to make a series of pictures as dense, intricate, and rich as the prose in the book. The entire project was shown in the Whitney Museum's 2004 Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art and is now in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

The index for the illustrations is here. For instance, page 666 is called "a chess bishop if you have seen him, running across the wet meadows in very early morning, with his red vestments furling and fluttering .a barbecue...got married...the lights failed...electrical tidal wave...a ceilingful of sooty, sterile eggs...lightning bolts...a whispering silhouette...homosexual prison-camp inmates."

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