In recent years, the most heart-achingly beautiful booth in all of San Diego Comic Con’s grand exhibition hall has consistently been that of our friends at Century Guild, a Chicago-based art gallery and publishing house.
Since 2007, they’ve been bringing the lion’s share of their astonishing collection of Art Nouveau, Symbolist, and Cabaret-related prints, lithographs, castings, and original artworks (Klimt! Mucha! Schiele! Szukalski!) to Con to be offered up for sale to discerning buyers… as well as to deliciously torment covetous, grubby urchins like myself. (Oh, but it hurts so good!) Century Guild also deals in a drool-inducing selection of contemporary artists –many of whom often make it out to SDCC for signings– Jeremy Bastian, Dave McKean, Michael Hussar, and Gail Potocki, to name a few.
Gail Potocki, specifically, is on my mind tonight, as I peruse my modest stockpile of last July’s SDCC bounty…
Portrait of Daisy & Violet Hilton by Gail Potocki
An emotive modern Symbolist painter, Potocki melds her mastery of classical 18th/19th Century technique with a profound and compassionate love for her unique array of portrait subjects. (A few years ago, Century Guild produced a lavish hardcover collection of her work called The Union of Hope and Sadness: The Art of Gail Potocki. Highly recommended. And you can read more about her impressive body of work here, here, and here.)
It was at the Century Guild booth that I discovered one of the most gorgeous and exquisitely produced print objects at all of SDCC 2012: a Century Guild-crafted series of Victorian carte de visites-reminiscent trading cards featuring Potocki’s “Freaks” paintings. Lovers of Tod Browning‘s controversial-yet-inarguably humanizing 1932 film by the same name will be sure to appreciate the elegant, thoughtful historicity of Potocki’s renderings of these five well-known early 20th Century vaudeville/sideshow performers: Daisy & Violet Hilton, Pip, Flip, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, and Annie Jones the Bearded Woman. Fellow paper fetishists should be impressed as well, as each card is handmade and letterpressed– a sumptuous tactile experience! They’re affordable, too, in spite of being a super limited edition. (I snatched them up immediately.)
Having just checked the Century Guild website, I see that they’re still available for purchase here. Had to share. They are so lovely, and lovingly done.