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Rare Books Goes to Long Beach: Gráfica América

“Some of the great images of world art began as prints, perhaps using only a block of wood and a carving tool.” — Nancy Berkoff, “Art of Print At Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach”

Rare Books contributed images from five of its books to Gráfica América, the current exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California. The exhibition, curated by Rogelio Gutierrez, Associate Professor of Art at Arizona State University, celebrates the collaborative spirit of printmaking through historical prints and publications as well as contemporary and experimental works made by Latin American and Latinx printmakers in print shops, publishing houses and artist collective studios.

The exhibition features works by approximately 100 artists and master printers from across the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean including Pepe Coronado, Sandra C. Fernandez, Fernando de Leon, Miguel Ledezma, Poli Marichal, Lorena Padral, Coral Reveueltas Valle and Humberto Saenz. Also represented are collective workshops including Taller de Gráfica Experimental — established in Havana, Cuba in 1962, Estampa Feminista from Bueno Aires, Argentina; Taller de Gráfica Popular; Mixografia; Centro de Arte de Puerto Rico; Dignidad Rebeld; INKspira, and several others.

Early print works, including pieces found in our rare book collections, serve as background to the contemporary graphic art.  MOLAA used Rare Books as a source for these graphics:

Arte mexicana
Antonio del Rincon (1556-1601)
En México: en casa Pedro Balli, 1595
First edition
PM4063 R5

Arte Méxicana, a grammar of Nahuatl, is the first printed work by a mestizo, the first published indigenous-language work written by a native Nahuatl speaker, and the first work in an indigenous language of México written by a Jesuit. Born not quite two generations after the completion of the conquest of México, Antonio del Rincon was a native of Texcoco, a descendant of the tlaloque, the nobility of Texcoco. It is likely that his family was still using Nahuatl as its first language. Rincon was as facile in Nahuatl as he was in Spanish. He entered the Jesuit order at Teopoztlan in August of 1573, the year after the Jesuits arrived in México. Rincon’s comprehension of Nahuatl as it was spoken in the post-Conquest period was particularly helpful in creating this successful grammar. Rincon was the first Mexican linguist to recognize the significance of certain aspects of Nahuatl, such as the duration of the sounded vowel and the glottal closure. Rincon also first proposed the interpretation of the meaning of the name “México” as “in the middle of the moon.” His grammar was in constant demand for nearly a century, until its use was eclipsed by a 1645 grammar produced by another Jesuit. Rincon’s grammar contains an eighteen page list of all the Nahuatl words used in his grammar. The book contains eight woodcut initials, five of which are historiated. Printer Pedro Balli was a native of Salmanca who arrived in México sometime around 1569 as a bookseller. Pedro Balli was the fourth printer of record in New Spain by royal decree of King Philip II. His first publication appeared in 1574. The title-page has one of the earliest instances of the Jesuit imprint in México.

Cathecismo Romano, Traducido en Castellano, y Mexicano por El P. F. Manvel Perez
México: F. De Rivera Calderon, 1723
First edition
BX1958 S6 1723

In 1585, Mexican bishops authorized an official catechism that differed from that of the Roman Catholic Church. This translation from Latin into Nahuatl by Manuel Perez is of the accepted Roman catechism.

Promptuario manual Mexicano. Que al la verdad…
Ignacio de Paredes (b. 1703)
México: en la imprenta de la Bibliotheca mexicana, 1759
PM4068 P37

This volume contains forty-six essays, or talks, and six sermons, a total of fifty-two readings, one for each Sunday in a year, in Nahuatl. It also contains a special sermon on the Virgin of Guadalupe. The talks touch upon major themes of Christian dogma, in the order of the catechism, and are structured in four parts: introduction, statement of theme, example and moral exhortation. Seven sermons were placed at the end of the volume, numbered in Roman numerals. The first six explicated the six Sundays of Lent and dealt with death, hell and the glory of the blessed. The sermon on the Virgin of Guadalupe is “the story of her admirable and miraculous appearance.” It recreated a dialogue between the Virgin and Juan Diego preceded by a description of the Virgin of Guadalupe by St. John in Revelation. This sermon essentially placed the Virgin of Guadalupe within a universal framework of the New Testament and demonstrated the appearance and dwelling in New Spain of the Lady of Heaven. De Paredes set the appearance in recent times, talked of its announcement in the Gospel and described it as an expectation by all of Christendom. The entire volume constitutes an example of the evangelical literature adapted to the new form of preaching developed in the eighteenth century in México. De Paredes offered a new book of usual topics, sermons which “[address]…eternal truths about good and move conversion of Souls.” Frontispiece engraved with coat of arms. University of Utah copy bound in vellum.

Historia de nueva-espana, escrita por su…
Hernan Cortés (1485-1547)
Mexico: Impr. Del superior gobierno, J. A. de Hogal, 1770
First edition
F1230 C82
After the conquest of Tenochtitlan, Hernán Cortés sent a series of letters to Carlos I, King of Spain. Cortés was in trouble with the Crown for having rejected the authority of his superior, the governor of Cuba. The letters were embellishments of the conquest, painting its leader as an extraordinary military strategist who will eventually win a new empire for his king. Three surviving letters are re-published here, in an edition which includes copperplates and a map designed by Jose Mariano Navarro based on a 1541 representation of the coast of “Mar de el sur.” This edition also includes an essay by seventeenth century Franciscan Agustin de Betancourt, a reproduction of a Mexican manuscript, a list of the viceroys of Mexico from Cortés to the Marquis de Croix, an account of Cortés’ voyage to Baja California, and a report of all subsequent expeditions to California up to 1769. The edition is a masterpiece of Mexican colonial printing. The editor, Antonio Lorenzana, archbishop of Mexico from 1766-1772, deliberately promoted the printing arts in Mexico during his term. Lorenzana included the first printing of glyphs from a Mexican manuscript, representing an itemized list of tribute paid to the ruling cities of the Valley of Mexico before the conquest. The map, also here in its first printing, is now lost.

The rare book collections include holdings from the 16th century to the 21st century and much more. Visit our webpage, view our digital exhibitions, search Open Book , visit Special Collections for more masterpieces of printmaking that matters.

Audibility = audibilidad
Carrie Ann Plank
San Francisco, 2017
N7433.4 P61 A93 2017

The sound of the state of being in Havana, Cuba is expressed through images by Carrie Ann Plank with text by Hanoi Perez and Megan Adie in Spanish and English. These are not translations, but rather investigations of the same concepts: Buscar (to search), esperar (to wait), resolver (to solve problems, and querer (to want) are all common in contemporary Cuban vernacular. Printed on black, red and cream-colored papers. Quarter bound in black cloth with black paper sides and title printed in white on front cover. Issued in black paper-covered slipcase lined with red paper. Produced in collaboration with Taller de Gráfica Experimental. Edition of fifty copies.

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