String Figures: The Collections of Harry Smith

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As an artist with a wide array of interests and talents, Harry Smith is known for creating the Anthology of American Folk Music in addition to his practices in painting, experimental film, self-taught anthropological study and collecting unusual objects. Smith was a true Beat-era eccentric with an appetite for accumulating information about the things he found fascinating and studying and cataloguing them. As a collector of tarot cards, Seminole textiles, records and more, Smith was interested in how objects communicate and the ways that everyday ephemera can have anthropological importance. String Figures: The Collections of Harry Smith, is the second in a multi-volume catalogue raisonné of items Smith has gleaned over the course of his lifetime. Smith was compelled by the creation of string figures, a historical pastime found throughout many parts of the world in which string is twisted and manipulated into a composed image. The figures were thought to be a form of creative entertainment or spiritual meditation, and could have possibly been a form of communication in societies with no written language. Smith investigated this practice intensely and this volume includes his research excerpts in addition to interviews, film stills and images of the string figures he created and collected. Each string figure is elegantly photographed against a black background to highlight their simplicity of form against the texture of the string. In the true spirit of Harry Smith, String Figures makes an unusual item feel special and speaks to the simple but effective craftsmanship of carefully maneuvered string.

 

•6"W x .5"D x 9"H

•edited by John Klacsmann and Andrew Lampert
•photography by Jason Fulford
•paperback
•165 pages 

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