Humbert by Tom Phillips

Artist(s): Tom Phillips
Author(s): Tom Phillips
Format: hardback
Edition: First, one of 175 copies
Year published: 2022
Publisher: Talfourd Press
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 320
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout


1 available

One of a limited edition of 175 numbered copies signed by the artist. The binding is in red goatskin leather with gold foil blocking to front, spine, head and tail bands, and top edge gilt. It is presented in a green cloth solander box with red foil blocking to front and spine.

The book measures 184mm (h) x w124mm (w) with 320 printed pages. The solander box measures 273mm (h) x 202mm (w) x 52mm (d).

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to learn that alongside his well-known fifty year project A Humument, Tom Phillips has been intermittently at work on the transformation of another dust gathering volume from the same shelves of second-hand bookshops. Humbert Wolfe’s Cursory Rhymes published in 1927, which Phillips describes as a gathering of flimsy verse weakly illustrated by Albert Rutherston. This offered a perfect canvas for creative intervention. He acquired over a dozen copies for use at lunchtime or when travelling or at tedious meetings, or when watching cricket as well as being to hand in the studio. Eventually these became free for all sketchbook/diaries providing a portrait of the artist’s life.

Humbert both chimes and contrasts with A Humument, most clearly in the way that Phillips approaches the space on the page. The dense prose of A Human Document invited a mining operation to find hidden poetry that called for decoration or illustration whereas Wolfe’s short poems offered large open areas ideal for creative play and disruption. Their short texts nevertheless yielded the occasional gem.

Over the long vigil of the covid pandemic Phillips distilled from the thousand or so pages he had used this selection of characteristic examples to indicate a variety of processes from completed collages to sprawling ideas for works in progress. Alice Wood worked closely with him and Joe Whitlock Blundell oversaw the production and design of the sumptuous binding.


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