Even in this age of emails, texts, and tweets, there is an ongoing fascination with the simple act of putting pen to paper. Associations such as the International Association of Master Penmen and the Society for Italic Handwriting keep the traditions of calligraphy and penmanship alive, hand-writing typefaces continue to sell, and hand-drawn display type and packaging of all sorts enjoy a renaissance. Pen to Paper, a collection of letters by artists from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, reveals how letter writing can be an artistic act, just as an artist puts pen to paper to craft a line in a drawing. Brief essays explore what can be learned from the handwriting of celebrated artists such as Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Howard Finster, Winslow Homer, Ray Johnson, Rockwell Kent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Maxfield Parrish, Eero Saarinen, Saul Steinberg, and many others. Each letter is accompanied by an archival image of the artist or a related artwork, with a full transcription. Pen to Paper provides a fresh way to think about artists and their creative work and is sure to inspire your next handwritten note or letter.
Pen To Paper
The art of handwriting reveals how the simple act of writing a letter in one’s own hand can be an artistic act. The letters, from the collections of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, show that an artist might put pen to paper just as he or she would apply line to a drawing.