How does one go about locating all of Arthur Szyk’s original works residing in public institutions? How do you assemble and organize this art-historical information so it can be easily used by scholars and art enthusiasts alike?
Historicana staff Samantha Lyons, PhD, and Alexis Bullock, with our colleague Allison Claire Chang, tackled these questions over the course of five years. We focused our research skills and attention on all available documentation, going back to the Arthur Szyk archives and decades’ worth of exhibition materials, not to mention Joseph P. Ansell’s biography Arthur Szyk: Artist, Jew, Pole (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004) and innumerable museum databases. A small detail, like the name of a collector who purchased a work at a Paris show in the 1920s, could spark an investigation leading to a work previously unknown to us—or even to a work believed to be lost. We were delighted to discover Szyk works in places we never expected, such as the Mishkan Museum of Art in Ein Harod, Israel, and confirm the locations of more than 650 works on paper.
We were lucky that award-winning book designer Irene Morris joined the project early. She clearly understood our mission and the visual potential of our research. Her insight and skill elevated this once-humble reference compendium to a gorgeous fine art book. Once the design was final, there was the matter of producing the book—no small undertaking! Fortunately, D Giles Limited (UK), the specialist visual publisher who co-published our 2017 catalogue Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art, was happy to take on Arthur Szyk Preserved as well.
At the suggestion of D Giles Limited, we finally collaborated with Conti Tipocolor, a graphics art company and fourth-generation family-owned printing house in Florence, Italy. Their high-tech precision and Old World expertise faithfully reproduced all the fine detail and vibrant color of Szyk’s original art. The results are nothing short of stunning.
While you await your preorder of Arthur Szyk Preserved, you may be interested in photos and videos from the book’s print and press check (September 2022).