Abstraction and a Feeling Book

The Song of Solomon from the Old Testament.
Guildford, Surrey, England: Circle Press, 1968.
(Prothro B-453)

Designed and printed by Ronald King

This 1968 edition of The Song of Solomon comprises thirty original silkscreen prints by the founder of Circle Press, Ron King (born 1932). Recognized as an art form today, screen printing did not garner the same level of respect as other printing techniques when King started Circle Press in 1967. King was never formally trained but, nevertheless, developed a simple but striking screen-printing method that utilized cut paper shapes and collage.

According to Cathy Courtney, King named his undertaking Circle Press “to suggest his vision of a group of like-minded artists working within a shared, supportive framework.” Such a collaborative ethos recalls Cobden-Sanderson’s idealistic conception of manuscript production as a model for book design. King’s use of imagery, however, stands in dramatic contrast to his predecessor’s warnings not to distract from the written message with illustration. Frequently partnering with artists, writers, and other printers, King produced innovative books in which text, image, and structure inform one another. Arranging the text of The Song of Solomon as discrete songs rather than as one continuous work, King responded to each with boldly colorful abstract images that are more evocative than illustrative. He described it himself as “a feeling book.” This copy was the gift of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro.

The Old Testament - The Song of Songs
Abstraction and a Feeling Book