In March 2023 John Yau and Richard Hull spent several days at Manneken Press working together on a series of monotypes. Yau and Hull have been friends for many years and have engaged in collaborations with others but never with each other. The occasion for this project is an upcoming exhibition that will pull together John Yau’s collaborations with many artists over the past four decades. “Disguise The Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations” will be mounted by the University of Kentucky Art Museum in early 2024 and will include several of the monotypes from this session. A portfolio of prints by Judy Ledgerwood with a poem by Yau, published by Manneken Press in 2014, will also be included in the exhibition.
John Yau is widely known as an art critic, writing for the online arts publication Hyperallergic, but poetry is his true metier. Richard Hull is a Chicago-based painter who’s work is clearly influenced by the Chicago Imagists who were his teachers and mentors. The plan for their collaboration was to make a series of prints loosely following the format of “wanted” posters from the old Wild West. Yau provided pithy phrases which Hull used as a prompt for his images. Yau used Sharpie markers to write his phrases on the backs of transparent, rectangular acrylic plates, then flipped them over to the printing side to flesh them out with color, using R&F Paint Sticks. Hull drafted his signature head-and-shoulder abstracted portraits on a larger square plate. The three plates were then placed together and printed in one pass through the press for the initial impression, then printed again with greater pressure on a fresh sheet of paper to produce second cognate or “ghost” impression. This pattern was followed through out the series.
Each print in the “Wanted” series contains a message. Some call for more attention to lesser known/under recognised artists like John D. Graham, and Miyoko Ito. Another is a lamentation for “The Lost Movies of Anna May Wong”, the first Chinese-American film star who’s career was diminished due to stereotyping and Hays Code censorship.
“Wanted: A Lavish Biopic Of Sessue Hayakawa, I” addresses the predicament of another Hollywood film actor of the early 20th C. who achieved considerable fame in his early career as a romantic lead. The rise of wartime anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States brought his career to a virtual standstill. Hayakawa was able to revive his career post-WWII with the support of fellow actors, including Humphrey Bogart, and he can be seen in such movie as “Bridge On the River Kwai” and “Swiss Family Robinson”. Despite this Hayakawa is relatively unknown to contemporary audiences. Yau’s text calls attention to Hayakawa’s name and talent and Hull’s image of a fractured yet radiant figure is suggestive of the racism that withered his legacy.
The ecstatic ”I Dreamed Of A Thousand Tongues Wagging And Singing In The Sky/Philip Guston”, and “Giorgio Guston/Philip de Chirico are odes to favourite artists, and a humorous play on words is evident in “Wanted: Juan Ted”. Hull’s abstract heads evoke humour, anxiety, exasperation or pathos and become a visual phraseology to Yau’s writing, or as Yau states, “something weirdly funny, slightly disturbing, oddly comical, and a tad creepy.”
The 23 prints in the “Wanted!” series are approximately 30” x 22” on Arches Cover, Tiepolo, Lana Gravure and Khadi papers. The artists used R&F Pigment Sticks and Caran D’Ache water soluble crayons to make the prints. Each print is signed by both artists and impressed with the Manneken Press blind stamp on the front lower margin. This project is published by Manneken Press.
John Yau is a New York-based American poet and critic who has published over 50 books of poetry, artist’s books, fiction, and art criticism. Yau has received numerous awards including the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the 2018 Jackson Poetry Prize, the American Poetry Review Jerome Shestack Award, and a 1988 New York Foundation for the Arts Award. He is also the recipient of a 1977 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowships, and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Yau has authored books on artists such as Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, created artist’s books in collaboration with Richard Tuttle and Squeak Carnwath among others, and collaborated with artists including Pat Steir and Archie Rand. An exhibition of Yau’s collaborations with artists will be mounted by the University of Kentucky Art Museum in 2024.
Yau was the arts editor for The Brooklyn Rail and is currently an editor at the online arts publication Hyperallergic. In 1999 Yau established Black Square Editions which is devoted to publishing translations of little known books by well-known poets and fiction writers, as well as the work of emerging and established authors.
Richard Hull is a Chicago-based painter whose work has been exhibited extensively. Hull joined the legendary Phyllis Kind Gallery before graduating from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 1979 and showed numerous times in her New York City and Chicago locations. Richard Hull has had more than 40 one-person shows and his work is included in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; the Smart Museum, Chicago, Neuberger Museum of Art, Westchester NY, the Nerman Museum, Kansas City, and the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC. Manneken Press has published Hull’s etching editions and monotypes since 2015. Richard Hull’s 2023 solo exhibition “Mirror and Bone” was mounted in Chicago by Western Exhibitions.
About Manneken Press
Manneken Press is a fine art press located in Bloomington, IL. Manneken Press publishes and exhibits original, limited edition and unique prints, portfolios, artist’s books, photographs and drawings by significant contemporary artists. We also augment our inventory to include drawings, sculpture and photography to better represent the full scope of our artist’s creative output.
The press was founded in 2000 and is owned and operated by Jonathan Higgins and Sarah Smelser. The prints are made by the artists working in close collaboration with master printer Jonathan Higgins, and are hand-printed on our Takach etching press. We are committed to traditional, time tested techniques, using only the finest papers and inks to produce our prints. Manneken Press has exhibited these works at fine art fairs in Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Boston, Baltimore, Houston and New York City, and in many galleries and museums. Prints published by Manneken Press have been reviewed in Art In Print, Art In America, Grabado Y Edición, ARTnews, and Art On Paper.