Some Poems of Jules Laforgue with Images by Patrick Caulfield (1973)

Patrick Caulfield, Crying to the walls: My God! My God! Will she relent? from Some Poems of Jules Laforgue Edition C (1973), screenprint, 61 x 56 cm. Edition of 100. Courtesy The Estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2018 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) made just one artist’s book, Some poems of Jules Laforgue with images by Patrick Caulfield, in a career that spanned over 40 years. The self-effacing title belies the fact that this represented a major project, on which Caulfield worked from 1969 to 1972. Published in 1973 in English and French editions by Petersburg Press, it is, in my view, as close to perfection as one would wish to dream for.

Caulfield established from the outset that screenprint was to be his chosen—and indeed only—print medium. He made his first screenprint, Ruins, as part of the ICA Print Portfolio (1964), selected by Richard Hamilton as one of 24 artists to work with Chris Prater at Kelpra Studio. Caulfield immediately responded to the medium’s capacity for even, flat areas of intense, saturated color, which he contained within a uniform black line; together this provided all the necessary building blocks for a language of poetic intensity throughout his career. Falsely labelled a “Pop” artist, Caulfield saw his concerns as falling within the tradition of still life—and felt particular affinity with the paintings of Juan Gris and the verse of the 19th-century poet Jules Laforgue (1860–1887).

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