I received this catalogue of an exhibition at the Correr Museum in Venice from the amazing Scott Newstok of Rhodes College in Memphis, who always seems to be a step ahead of me on whatever I’m working on. The exhibition, curated by Cristina Dondi, runs through April 30.
The catalogue features a striking design by the Sebastiano Girardi Studio. It includes well-thought-out graphics and artwork on mostly black backgrounds, printed on Fedrigoni Sumbol Tatami White paper. I like the design, though it was impossible to tell from the cover and title page (above) whether the title was “Printing Revolution” or “Printing Evolution.” I guess that’s the point. The design cleverly implies both and gives them seemingly equal weight. That’s great, though maybe a bit of a headache for librarians, booksellers, and book shoppers.
The book, which is bilingual Italian and English, does not go into much depth on any particular topic, but it provides a good overview, and it is built on a deep, sound foundation. The main sections are “Why,” “What,” Where,” “How,” and “Movement.” It’s too bad the last section, about the dispersal of early books through time and space, doesn’t fit the simple concept developed in the other sections, but the organization remains satisfying nonetheless.
I mentioned that the book does not go into great depth. Despite this, in the space of a few paragraphs, I learned much that I had not previously known, for example, about the role of women in early publishing. The first known woman printer was Estellina Conat, who printed a Hebrew poem in Mantua in 1474. Her contributions and those of other women are briefly noted. A great depth of research and a surety of judgment underlies this popular printed presentation of what has got to be an exceptional exhibition. This catalogue is well worth getting your hands on if this is a topic that interests you.