Tom Lubbock
Frances Lincoln, London, 2012, English
Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History; Nonfiction, Graphic Design
6.5 x 8.6 inches, hardcover, 208 pages
ISBN: 9780711233706
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95

From the Publisher. English Graphic is a book of essays on the subject of illustration, with the focus entirely on English artists using graphic media; drawings, prints, and watercolors. The pieces are largely drawn from Tom Lubbock’s weekly Great Works column for The Independent, with some longer pieces originally published as reviews or catalogue essays. The historical span of the book is broad—from the Uffington White Horse to the Winchester Psalter Hellmouth to Harry Beck’s London Underground Map and beyond. The high point of English graphic art in the late 18th and early 19th century makes up the heart of the book, with Fuseli, Blake, Bewick, and Palmer all the subject of extended essays. The fifty or so images range from the visionary to the empirical, from folk art to caricature. Connecting and overlapping ideas on line and shape run through the book; maps, islands, clouds, swarms, wombs, skins, dots, contours, and boundaries. Energetic, coherent and strange, English Graphic presents an electrical storm of ideas and illuminations provocatively argued by one of our most brilliant writers on art.

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Thomas Collins

My favorite book of 2012 is a follow-up to my favorite book of 2011. Both are a collection of essays written by Tom Lubbock that appeared in his weekly column at The Independent. Whereas last year’s Great Works examined painted masterpieces of Western art, English Graphic narrows the focus to smaller works in ink, drawings, and engravings produced in England—work seldom seen in the public eye. Typically no more than four to five pages each, these essays shimmer with sparkling wit and startling observations. Lubbock possesses the supreme gift of making obscure works seem familiar and familiar works seem fresh. In these pages, towering giants of English graphic arts like William Blake, William Hogarth, and Aubrey Beardsley rub shoulders with lesser-known geniuses such as George Romney, Francis Towne, and Thomas Cartwitham. Lubbock’s prose is masterful, and his keen examinations of artistic technique reveal how these images manage to firmly take hold in our imaginations.

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