Cleveland: Renegade Press, circa 1965. 18 x 12.5 cm text and image, most sheets folding, stapled in plain black wrappers measuring 21.5 x 14 cm. Comprising: typed title-page and 14 folded newspaper clippings, all but three with painted elements on the visible outer folds, and painted on the inner folded sides, varying sized sheets including Peanuts comics and news articles. In a green folding case with morocco title label. The staples pulled from rear wrapper and two of the final sheet, a few expected chips at edges, generally a very well preserved copy. Item #405983
One of 4 stated copies of this scarce hand-painted, constructed, and bound edition by levy.
The Cleveland-based poet, artist, publisher, provocateur, and cultural figure is often either misunderstood (a fact exacerbated by the tragi-heroic circumstances of his early death at 26 by suicide, or was it murder?) or entirely ignored. While recognized for his role in the mimeo revolution and as an underground poet and publisher, the major literature on artist's books of the 20th century forgets levy. "Formal discussions of the book and museum exhibitions of the book arts," writes Joel Lipman, "generally exclude mention of his work and lack its inclusion. Art historically defined print-era movements – French livre d'artiste and the modernist movements of dada, surrealism, futurism, Russian supremacism and constructivism still dominate academic artist book discussions. levy's work reflects the traditions that preceded him." His exclusion from the book arts canon says more about the canon than it does of his art, since his work demonstrates so clearly that it deserves a place along accepted works whose status in both academic and collecting circles is taken for granted. His breadth, prolificacy, and boundless experimentation are matched by few.
Lipman contends that levy's approach to the page is coincident with supremacist and constructivist practices of destabilizing: a page without axis, treated as a separate unit. levy also relied on non-archival materials – democratic and mundane in their origins – and so his work often offends the preservationist whose role it is to resist decay and depreciation. The present work was one of many collected by Ruth and Marvin Sackner for their Archive of Concrete & Visual Poetry: "levy is one of our unsung heroes although we did not know him as a contemporary because he died before we started collecting. I mention him here because we think he should be considered as one of the important figures of contemporary concrete poetry and experimental writing" (quoted in Lipman).
The present work manipulates found newspaper clippings through folding (thereby articulating differences of what is seen from what is hidden), twisting and torquing their axes so that, when stapled in codex form, they are recontextualized. These sheets became the grounds for levy's painting, stamping, and other artistic superimposition. They juxtapose low and high culture, over-saturation of text with quietude of painterly fields. And though levy's hand is felt throughout its entire form, there is a selfless contemplativeness to its humble appearance.
One of levy's scarcest works: No copies are recorded in institutional collections according to WorldCat/OCLC. Taylor & Horvath P-60. See Joel Lipman, "d.a. levy & the Book Arts: remarks prepared for the d.a. levyfest symposium, Cleveland, October 29, 2005," in: d.a. levy & the mimeograph revolution, ed. Larry Smith & Ingrid Swanberg, Huron, OH: Bottom Dog Press, 2007, pp. 169-173.