This past year I was invited to lead a “Paper Views” discussion at the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University. It was initially supposed to be a viewing and discussion of prints by Old Masters of women in the Bible, but the collection and little in that area. What they do have is Paul Wunderlich’s 1970 The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s. I have begun work on an article about these interesting and curious lithographs. One catalogue selling a set at the Bonhams auction describes that particular lot thus:
The complete portfolio, comprising 10 lithographs printed in colors on Rives paper, signed in pencil on the colophon and numbered 174/480, published by Aquarius Press, Baltimore, printed at Atelier Désjobert, Paris, each with full margins, in very good condition, in original blue linen covered clamshell box with gilt letterpress lettering on spin (some wear, surface dirt)
sheet each 25 1/2 x 19 1/2in
The portfolio was published with an English or German translation of Song of Songs as well. (I have not yet determined which translations were used.
Wunderlich’s work was notorious for its eroticism and surrealistic style. Given the content of Song of Songs, one can imagine the nature of these lithographs. I have included the image posted at Bonhams website of the page corresponding to Song 4:5.
5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies.
This is by no means the most explicit image in the collection, but you can see the curious nature of how Wunderlich interprets quite literally this erotic love poem that uses agricultural metaphors and imagery and then represents it surrealistically. It really is quite a curious combination.
I am enjoying the challenge of reading Wunderlich’s “text.” I am have no experience or credentials as an art critic or historian so I am sure I will make missteps and I am not even sure where I would submit such an article. But I am inspired by my erstwhile teacher Mika Bal, who never shied away from new challenges and interpretations.