Etel Adnan

Image not available
Etel Adnan
Ink and watercolor on paper.
Closed: 6 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches (15.9 x 9.1 x 3.3 cm); length when open: 80 1/4 inches (203.8 cm)
Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors Committee and Lawrence R. Ricciardi.

Adnan, who became known for her visual art only in the decade before she passed away, had long been recognized for her poetry and prose. Of particular significance is the novel Sitt Marie Rose (1978), which was written during and about the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan began painting distilled landscapes in the early 1960s while living in Northern California. Mount Tamalpais was a frequent subject throughout her life. Around 1963, she made the acquaintance of the artist Rick Barton (1928-1992), who showed her an accordion folded book he was working on. She adopted the format enthusiastically and exploited its potential to break down the barriers between drawing and writing. She later wrote, "the unfolding of one's mental operations is akin, it appeared to me, to these long horizontal scrolls that are not meant to be grasped in a single vision like a painting, but rather to be read, visually, in sequence, like an ordinary book that you cannot read in a single glance." She often included texts or text-like symbols in her books, which were imported from Japan, but also images drawn from her tabletop, such as inkpots and, in this example, persimmons. The persimmons are drawn grouped and singly in a bowl or sometimes on a white and red checkered cloth. They are outlined in black ink and rendered in a luscious shade of orange that emphasizes Adnan's skill as a colorist. The round form of the persimmons as well as their color recall the suns that frequently appear in her paintings and writing.


On paper label on book cover, in black pen, "[signature] Etel Adnan / 'Persimmons' December 5, 89 / Sausalito, California;" on panel adhered to back board, top right in black marker, "Adnan," beneath strike-through covering printed "Made in Japan"; on verso of penultimate panel, in pencil, "for Martha, Karina, and Eric, [signed] Etel Adnan april 90 / Sausalito, California".

Private collection (from the artist); Garlerie Lelong & Co., New York; from whom acquired by the Morgan.
Artist page: