Lynd Ward

Trailer — “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward”

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Gods’ men HD

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The Biggest Bear

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Lynd Kendall Ward (June 26, 1905 – June 28, 1985) was an American artist and storyteller, known for his series of wordless novels using wood engraving, and his illustrations for juvenile and adult books. His wordless novels have influenced the development of the graphic novel. Strongly associated with his wood engravings, he also worked in watercolor, oil, brush and ink, lithography and mezzotint. Ward was a son of Methodist minister and political organizer Harry F. Ward.

Life

Lynd Kendall Ward was born on June 26, 1905, in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Harry F. Ward, was born in Chiswick, England, in 1873; the elder Ward was a Methodist who moved to the United States in 1891 after reading the progressive Social Aspects of Christianity (1889) by Richard T. Ely.

Ward was early drawn to art, and decided to become an artist when his first-grade teacher told him that “Ward” spelled backward is “draw”. Ward studied fine arts at Columbia Teachers College in New York. He edited the Jester of Columbia, to which he contributed arts and crafts how-to articles.

Ward studied as a special one-year student at the National Academy of Graphic Arts and Bookmaking in Leipzig.  He learned etching from Alois Kolb, lithography from Georg Alexander Mathéy, and wood engraving from Hans Alexander “Theodore” Mueller; Ward was particularly influenced by Mueller. Ward chanced across a copy of Flemish artist Frans Masereel‘s wordless novel The Sun (1919), a story told in sixty-three silent woodcuts.

Ward returned to the United States in September 1927, and a number of book publishers in his portfolio. In 1928, his first commissioned work illustrated Dorothy Rowe‘s The Begging Deer: Stories of Japanese Children with eight brush drawings. May helped with background research for the illustrations, and wrote another book of Japanese folk tales, Prince Bantam (1929), with illustrations by Ward. Other work at the time included illustrations for the children’s book Little Blacknose by Hildegarde Swift, and an illustrated edition of Oscar Wilde‘s poem “Ballad of Reading Gaol“.

In 1929, Ward was inspired to create a wordless novel of his own after he came across German artist Otto Nückel‘s Destiny (1926). The first American wordless novel, Gods’ Man was published by Smith & Cape that October, the week before the Wall Street Crash of 1929; over the next four years, it sold more than 20,000 copies.[11] He made five more such works: Madman’s Drum (1930), Wild Pilgrimage (1932), Prelude to a Million Years (1933),Song Without Words (1936), and Vertigo (1937).

In addition to woodcuts, Ward also worked in watercolor, oil, brush and ink, lithography and mezzotint. Ward illustrated over a hundred children’s books, several of which were collaborations with his wife, May McNeer. Starting in 1938, Ward became a frequent illustrator of the Heritage Limited Editions Club’s series of classic works. He was well known for the political themes of his artwork, often addressing labor and class issues. In 1932 he founded Equinox Cooperative Press. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Society of American Graphic Arts, and the National Academy of Design. Ward retired to his home in Reston, Virginia, in 1979. He died on June 28, 1985, two days after his 80th birthday.

In celebration of the art and life of this American printmaker and illustrator, independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras of 217 Films produced a new film titled “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward.” The documentary features an interview with the artist’s daughter Robin Ward Savage, as well as more than 150 works from all periods of Ward’s career. The 94-minute documentary, culled from over 7 hours of film and narrated by Maglaras, premiered at Penn State University Libraries, Foster Auditorium, on April 20, 2012, where it was warmly received. Penn State’s Special Collections Library has also become the repository for much Lynd Ward material, and may continue to receive material from Ward family collections.

 Novels in woodcuts

Ward is known for his wordless novels told entirely through dramatic wood engravings. Ward’s first work, Gods’ Man (1929), uses a blend of Art Deco and Expressionist styles to tell the story of an artist’s struggle with his craft, his seduction and subsequent abuse by money and power, his escape to innocence, and his unavoidable doom. Ward, in employing the concept of the wordless pictorial narrative, acknowledged as his predecessors the European artists Frans Masereel and Otto Nückel. Released the week of the 1929 stock market crash, Gods’ Manwould continue to exert influence well beyond the Depression era, becoming an important source of inspiration for Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg.

Ward produced six wood engraving novels over the next eight years, including:

Ward left one more wordless novel partially completed at the time of his death in 1985. The 26 completed wood engravings (out of a planned total of 44) were published in a limited edition in 2001, under the title Lynd Ward’s Last, Unfinished, Wordless Novel.[15]

He also produced a wordless story for children, The Silver Pony, which is told entirely in black, white and shades of gray painted illustrations; it was published in 1973.

Other works

In 1930 Ward’s wood engravings were used to illustrate Alec Waugh‘s travel book Hot Countries; in 1936 an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published with illustrations by Ward. His work on children’s books included his 1953 Caldecott Medal winning book The Biggest Bear, and his work on Esther ForbesJohnny Tremain.

Ward illustrated the 1942 children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, with text by Hildegarde Swift.

Ward’s work included an awareness of the racial injustice to be found in the United States. This is first apparent in the lynching scenes from Wild Pilgrimage and appears again in his drawings for North Star Shining: A Pictorial History of the American Negro, by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift, published in 1947. Ward uses African American characters, as well as several different Native ones in his book The Silver Pony.

In 1941 his illustrations were used in Great Ghost Stories of the World:The Haunted Omnibus, edited by Alexander Laing.

In 1974 Harry N. Abrams published Storyteller Without Words, a book that included Ward’s six novels plus an assortment of his illustrations from other books. Ward himself broke his silence and wrote brief prologues to each of his works. In 2010, the Library of America published Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, with a new chronology of Ward’s life and an introduction by Art Spiegelman.

Source: Wikipedia, You Tube and reading of the novels.

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