The Written Image: Beyond the Words

From the November/December 2010 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

The work of neo-modernist Swedish artist Carl Köhler, born in 1919, was relatively unknown outside his home country at the time of his death in 2006, but for the past two years, a group of his works—collectively titled Beyond the Words: Author Portraits by Carl Köhler—has been traveling North America, hosted by libraries from Washington, D.C., to Vancouver. The images below, portraits of Henry Miller “as a demon” (left) and Guillaume Apollinaire, are two of the thirty pieces featured in the current exhibition

at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library. Köhler utilized collage technique, woodblock prints, paint, and ink to compose figurative renderings of writers from Europe and America that evoke the mood and makeup of his individual subjects, most of whom he knew only through their books. “My father was very much inspired by literature,” says the artist’s son, Henry Köhler. “He had a huge library, and he looked up to these strong literary characters.” The show is open until December 11.