Michael Kuch established his own Double Elephant Press in 1994, and over the past decade its books − which are in such collections as Yale’s Beinecke Library, Smith College’s rare book collection, the British Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress − have made a name for him in the world of fine art book publishing.
Fine art books like the ones by Double Elephant Press consist of original work, generally etchings or woodcuts. The books are often supplemented with text of some sort; they have small print runs; they’re bound by premiere bookbinders, who use high-quality materials (paper imported from Italy, for example); and the deluxe editions can sell for as much as seven thousand dollars a copy.
Common Monsters of the United States
Outlandish fauna are artfully observed and illuminated by Michael Kuch. From the American Imperialist Moth, Pax Americana to the Fat-Man Stealth Bat, Papilla Terror. This natural history surveys the salient creatures of our current political landscape.
A fine press book with woodcuts by Michael Kuch, words by Eleanor Wilner, and music by Luna Pearl Woolf performed by Matt Haimovitz. 2009
Disasters of Love – A Defense of Delilah
Twelve images illustrate a poem telling the Samson and Delilah story from the point of view of Delilah.
A Sphinx’s Field Guide to Questionable Answers
The book opens with chiaroscuro woodcuts of various sphinxes in natural settings who serve as guides to common, rhetorical riddles. Colorful answers are displayed in wood type. The reader is left to unriddle the question from which each answer was derived. An alphabetical key, loose in the back of the book, provides the names of the various typefaces displayed on the pages, turning the field guide into a rather curious specimen book.
Lemons Descending 0f 2001 was a musical collaboration with cellist Matt Haimovitz and composer Luna Woolf, performed by soprano Eileen Clark and Haimovitz. The music of the album inspired the fine-art book Lemons Descending: Music, Poetry, Etchings by Oxingale press. The book of poems features original color etchings by Michael Kuch, whose interpretations create a visual counterpoint to the compositions. Images blend archetype with animal and human forms: presenting a cellist playing a long crucifix and a bird with spread wings bears the legs and arms of a crucified Christ. The illustrations to Pablo Neruda’s eponymous poem, Ode to the Lemon, are as unorthodox and original as the title.
Falling to Earth
The book’s imagery uses the metaphor of falling to look at the human and spiritual costs of violence. Mythological and biblical narratives are evoked in a modern framework that gives perspective to the terrifying events of September 11th, 2001. The fourteen poems and twenty-one etchings depict Icarus, Jacob’s Ladder, and parachuting Christs and are also frequented by angels providing a vantage from above. Though the imagery does not shy from a hard look at the human toll of human violence, the work is not concerned with a world of blame, but instead hopes to unfold as a topographical map of healing.
Seance for a Minyan
The book consists of ten poems by Pulitzer-winning poet Anthony Hecht illustrated by Michael Kuch. Hecht’s evocative poems recall passages from the Old Testament; first person accounts and psychological reflections bring scriptural personages to life.
Gluttons for Rapture and Defecating Angels
Two poems and etchings by Michael Kuch are contained in this double-sided accordian style book. This fine press book was issued in an edition of forty-four copies in the Fall of 1998.
The Double Elephant Press published Apocalypse Clocks in the late spring of the year 2000. Sixty copies were produced; the first thirteen volumes comprise a deluxe edition. Michael Kuch drew, bit and printed the copper plates and composed the poetry. Art Larson printed the text letterpress. The sixteen point van Dijck was cast by M & H Type. The paper was made by hand at Papeterie St-Armand in Montreal. Shoshanna Wineberg bound the edition.
Amour & Armor
Published in 1996, Amour &Armor contains etchings of human figures juxtaposed with seashells to represent the human defenses.
A Plague On Your House
The Double Elephant Press is pleased to announce its first publication, A Plague on Your House. In this volume, twenty-eight etchings of the frog are preceded by an essay examining the great disappearance of frogs late in the twentieth century. The frog, both lauded & maligned, is dying. This batrachian end is baffling scientists. This text plumbs the furtive world of the frog: its rise, its modus vivendi, the eventuality of its decline. Michael ties these anthropomorphic frogs to the fate of all humankind through irony and satire.
The illustrations provide an account of various expiring species. The etchings & text (ornamented with wood engravings) are by Michael Kuch. The etchings are printed by the artist either with colored ink or on colored paper. The letterpress is the work of Arthur Larson. The type, 4 point Arrighi, was cast by the Golgonooza Letter Foundry. The etchings & letterpress are printed on handmade paper.