The Wood and the Graver: The Work of Fritz Eichenberg
My copy was bought used and man-o-man does it smell musty. The odor is, at best, like a stack of old newspapers in the dampest bayou floodplain basement, or, at worst, the bouquet of the finest Trader Joe’s wine. I’m not sure if the author’s intent was make his readers recoil in disgust, but, if it was, mission accomplished. Okay, it’s unfair for me to judge a book by the way it smells, and, as we all know, a book’s scent is not set by the author. It’s set by the publisher. Damn you Crown Publishers, Inc.!
Fortunately, this week I have a cold and my nasal breathing passages are all clogged up. I guess I should quickly review this book before the DayQuil wears-off. All-in-all this is a fantastic overview of Eichenburg’s work and a good starting point if you are interested in collecting his illustrations. The reproductions are all high quality. I especially like the side-by-side comparisons between initial sketches and the finished engravings. Many of the prints are reproduced at a bigger scale than the actual blocks. This understates the incredible detail and skill the Eichenburg brings to his art.
For the most part, text is kept to a minimum with only a paragraph or two written about each of the print series. That’s fine by me as artists writing about their own art can get pretty cringey. As an example, listen to the Sean Astin and Elijah Wood’s commentary on the Lord of the Rings DVD. You’ll want to take a swig of arsenic every time they mention “the craft” of acting. I digress. There are no hobbits in this book.