CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: August 9, 1999
Famed illustrator Barry Moser brings history-making
Bible project to UI
IOWA CITY Barry
Moser, the famed illustrator whose artistry has brought to life fabled classics
such as "Moby Dick," "Jump Again! More Adventures of Brer Rabbit," and nearly
200 other books, says he's become obsessed with his latest challenge: to illustrate
the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, something a single artist hasn't
done in the 20th century.
As a guest of the University of Iowa Libraries and
the Center for the Book, Moser will talk publicly at 8 p.m., Nov. 12 about
the Pennyroyal Caxton Press edition of the Holy Bible, which will be on display
that evening for audience viewing. At the free, public lecture, "Tankah and
Testament: A Reprobate Tinkers with Holy Writ," Moser will talk about how
he, a self-described ordinary man, and a non-communicant in faith who reveres
the book as sacred, has dealt with designing and illustrating the King James
Bible. The lecture is sponsored by the UI's Ida Cornelia Beam Distinguished
Visiting Professor program.
The Bible will be seen in the Midwest for the first
time in Iowa City following select display engagements in Los Angeles, Jerusalem
and other cities. When completed, Moser will have created 240 engraved images
that illustrate the 400-copy, limited edition Pennyroyal Caxton Press Bible,
a name that connotes the publishers' ownership. Moser's privately owned Pennyroyal
Press, and the Caxton Corp., owned by New York investor Bruce Kovner, are
jointly producing the fine press Bible, which will be sold on a first-come,
first-served basis for $10,000 apiece. Moser, a former fundamentalist preacher
from Tennessee, has sold to Viking Studio the rights to publish a more affordable
$65 edition two weeks after the first edition is published. A copy of the
Bible has been purchased for the Libraries collections through the generosity
of former Libraries' staff member Curtis Stucki, Olympia, Wash.
"The UI Libraries have
worked with Barry Moser for many years and hold one of the most complete collections
of his work in the world," said Sid Huttner, head of Special Collections.
"We are profoundly grateful to Curtis Stucki for his gift which makes this
Many of the images, shown in an illustrated folio
edition of the Bible, are harrowing and unlike traditional Biblical illustrations.
In "The Last Judgment," an illustration inspired by Revelation 20:12, Moser
shows Christ descending from the heavens, his face cast downward at a penitent
man who is seen cowering atop a bed of human skulls in fearful anticipation
of his final judgment. In another illustration, Adam and Eve look African.
"I suppose you could say the Bible is a more permanent
manifestation of my preaching. The images ask questions of my readers, and
that's what really good preaching ought to do," Moser says.
The UI's Center for the Book Research and Production
Paper Facility is producing 2,500 sheets of specially made, unbleached muslin
rag paper that will be used to assemble the Bible.
The paper, white in color, is made to resonate with
the color of the Bible's vellum binding. The Center for the Book sheets will
be the first and last blank sheets of paper readers see when opening and closing
the Bible. The Center's white sheets provide a transition from the vellum
cover to the special, German-made wove sheet on which the Bible's text will
Lynn Amlie, the production facility shop manager,
says the facility expects the paper production will be completed this summer.
We're interested in incorporating the latest technology
with the historical techniques that we're known for, without sacrificing the
strength and aesthetic characteristics of the paper, Amlie says. "It's a marrying
of past traditions with the potential of the future," she says.
"The volume of paper required, as well as the physical
demands have led us to redefine how we work together. Moser's project allows
us to look backward at the process, not because we want to go back to historical
paper making techniques, but rather to utilize the best of what was developed
in the past and apply it to contemporary uses today. This requires a high
level of skill and commitment, and we're proud to have a dedicated group of
students working at this facility," Amilie says.
The Center for the Book will also publish a new fine
press book by Moser later this year titled "Wood Engraving: Notes on the Craft,"
a 33-page how-to-book about wood engravings. The book, originally written
20 years ago, was significantly rewritten exclusively for the Center for the
Moser's respect for the Center for the Book and its
staff led him to select Kim Merker, founding director of the Center for the
Book, and pre-eminent American printer, as one of the project's six typographic
advisors. Merker has known Moser professionally for many years and provided
assistance to Moser on other projects.
The public can view Moser's work and take part in
related events on the following dates:
October 1999 January 2000: "Open Book:
The Book Studies Community at the University of Iowa," in the North Exhibition
Lobby of the Main Library. This exhibition features diverse interdisciplinary
activities relating to book studies and the arts of the book at the UI and
will focus on a variety of activities and creations which make the UI a major
center for book studies. Moser's fine press works and reproductions of part
of the Bible will be featured.
Nov. 1 Dec. 1: Exhibition: "The Arts
of Barry Moser" and the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible will be on view at the Department
of Special Collection, 3rd Floor, Main Library.
Friday, Nov. 12, 8 p.m.: Ida Beam Distinguished
Lecture, "Tanakh and Testament: A Reprobate Tinkers with Holy Writ," a free
and public lecture presented by Moser. Held at Shambaugh Auditorium. The Bible
will be on view at this event.
Moser's visit and related programs are co-sponsored
by the UI Libraries, the Center for the Book, and assistance from the UI Ida
Cornelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor Program, and the American Printing
History Association's Ben J. Lieberman Lecture Fund.
For more information about the exhibitions, contact
Sid Huttner, head, Special Collections, at 335-5921, or David Schoonover,
curator of rare books, Special Collections, at 319-335-5923. A web site on
the Bible project created by the Pennyroyal Press can be visited at http://www4.lib.uiowa.edu:8080/friends/moser.html