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Wood engraving by Colin Paynton
(from The Chimes, 1985)

Endgrain Editions 5: Richard Wagener
September 2019

Ursus typographicus:
a Chronology of Bears

December 2017

Endgrain Editions 4
Simon Brett – An Engraver’s Progress

2013/2014

Cover scan

Click on thumbnail image above
for additional images

Endgrain Editions 5
Richard Wagener: A Dialogue with Wood Engraving

September 2019

Richard Wagener’s engravings have knocked us sideways from the first time we saw them in 1994, when we were preparing Endgrain: Contemporary Wood-engraving in North America. The block we chose for Endgrain, ‘Shadow of the Hawk’, remains one of our favourite engravings by any artist. Our fascination with his work is a response to the meticulous attention to detail which imbues all his engravings, combined with a ‘democracy of aesthetic’ which allows both realism and abstraction equal weight. In a Parenthesis review of Wagener’s early book with Peter Koch, Zebra Noise with a Flatted Seventh, Simon Brett said ‘No one else I know of is making such avant-garde grand opera in wood-engraved prints.’

Yet with abstraction as a vital part of his vision, Wagener is also deeply drawn to the essentials of the natural world – trees, plants, mountains, birds, reptiles, animals – and presents them utterly in and for themselves. There are very few human figures, and virtually no active ‘scenes’ with a narrative, a story to tell. His subjects are not interpreted, or used to set off something else: I can’t think of a single one of Richard’s engraving which shows more than one central subject, although there may be both representational and abstract elements in the same piece. His vision is intense, embracing, and clear.

When, more recently, he has begun to use colour, it is always in abstract compositions, as if the colour itself as the subject were taking on an immutable abstract persona – and always one colour is the subject even when it is printed against a second coloured background. When these coloured images are used in books, as they were in Peter Koch’s edition of Robert Bringhurst’s translation of the works of Parmenides, they take on the effects of illuminations rather than illustrations. They are co-equal accompaniments.

Endgrain Editions 5 continues in the larger formats of the preceding two volumes on Simon Brett and Peter Lazarov, printing 95 engravings from all periods and styles of Richard Wagener’s career. Many coloured engravings are included, and in a departure from the earlier volumes in the series, brief texts by himself and others, both commenting on and counterpointing the engravings, are printed to set off groups of images. There are two fold-out images. An elegant autobiographical introduction reveals the processes and travels through which he has arrived at his position today in the first rank of American and international engravers. As always, a specially commissioned frontispiece, a new press device, and a patterned paper have been created for the edition.

Some Comments By Readers

I want to thank you for having Richard bring Endgrain Editions 5 to me on his way back to California. And for publishing such an amazing edition, a true delight! It was especially nice to have Richard hand it over as he was so clearly pleased with what you folks had managed to accomplish. You have certainly published another great edition, with its own unique character, and your care for, and interest in the subject matter is evident throughout. I will enjoy having my copy...
David Pascoe, Nawakum Press

Very beautiful binding, sublime inside as always! It was worth the waiting.
Serge Berrut, Endgrain Editions Subscriber

A Sonnet upon Receipt of EE5

The doorbell rang. I opened up and saw
Upon my stoop a box. The postman waved.
The package: large, sent south from Canada.
It bore an image: bear enraged—engraved.

Barbaric through and through this parcel was!
A yawp formed on my lips but was suppressed.
I slit the tape with trembling hand because
Inside a rare Barbarian took rest.

At last the beast sprang forth and then…it sang!
Such harmonies, such artfulness and thought!
Dense images of beauty, sturm und drang
Meticulously graved, wondrously wrought.

A thing of leather, paper, ink, and thread
Has seldom been so pleasurably read.

Karl Ronnevik, Subscriber

I have now read the Wagener book- what a magnificent piece of work! The Introduction by Wagener was enlightening. I was slightly familiar with his work before, but this certainly explained much. Jan’s Afterword was fascinating -- a reflection of the tremendous dedication and commitment it takes to produce books like this.

The prints themselves are a wonder. Absolutely exquisite. The landscapes particularly are favourites. The texts accompanying many of the engravings are captivating and illuminating.

I look forward to continuing to read and look at this beautiful book, to ponder the order of the prints and your decisions on the layout, format etc. It is clear that much thought went into every aspect of this book.

In an increasingly turbulent world, it is heartening to know that there are people who care so deeply about craft, and who take such care to do things well. To provide this level of quality takes skill and commitment obviously, but it also takes time. I thank you for your dedication...

Bruce MacKeen, Subscriber

Endgrain Editions Five: Richard Wagener is published in an edition of 80 Deluxe and 50 Regular copies.

DELUXE STATE: 80 copies. Texts printed in Joanna with Delphian for display, in various colours and black on Zerkall Cream laid, with 95 engravings printed from the wood on Zerkall White Smooth. The book is bound in quarter vermilion morocco with a skived leather spine label and a patterned paper by the artist over boards, slipcased with a folder containing a signed and numbered strike of the commissioned frontispiece for the book.
PRICE: C$1,500.00          OUT OF PRINT

STANDARD STATE. 50 copies. As the Deluxe state, but quarter black cloth with a printed paper label and patterned paper, not slipcased.
PRICE: C$1,200.00. A few copies remaining.

Both states are bound by Alanna Simenson at Mad Hatter Bookbinding, Sooke, B.C.

Visit our Ordering page to order this title.