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Project Statement

by J. Drucker

This book was inspired by research into the history of emblem books, rebuses, and other forms of visual and verbal text. The specific inspiration came from a book with the same title, a Dutch emblem book that used farm implements as the imagery for its moral lessons and contemplative verse. Though I never saw that book, or even reproductions from its pages, I was fascinated by emblem books at that time owing to my studies at University of California, Berkeley, towards a PhD focused on the history of writing, written forms, and visual manifestations of language. The idea of an emblem book that used implements, rather than icons or religious allegories, was inspiring. I thought that images of appliances, objects that had the capacity to be transformative in some direct, physical way, would work well in relation to a set of texts that were about prepositions, those most hinge-like, pivotal, elements of syntax. Thus the book, texts and images, is about transformative elements. The linoleum cuts were, as often is the case, a great pleasure to make. I had been drawing a lot of ordinary objects in the late 1970s and early 1980s, first as part of the postcard series I sent back to friends in Berkeley from my travels in Greece, Italy, and Holland, then in the warehouse as daily exercises.

Dolls of the Spirit

Johanna Drucker

title note: The title is taken from a Dutch emblem book (16th century?) of the same name. [J. Drucker]


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Publication Information

publisher: self-published

publication: 1980-00-00

publication history: One edition only, and a small one at that. Very few copies remain in existence. [J.Drucker]

Aesthetic Profile


artists' books (LCSH)

themes: Transformation. [J. Drucker]

content form:
experimental text (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Emblem books, in particular, a Dutch work with the same title. [J. Drucker]

related works: This book is rather sui generis, though the lino cuts have something in common with the drawings in Italy. [J. Drucker]

community: school U.C. Berkeley, vaguely, and the poets as always. [J. Drucker]

Related Documents

manuscript type: mockups

location: other

note: I don't think any manuscripts, texts, or mockups remain.