Neo Emblemata Nova contains 50 illustrations from Emblemata Nova also known as Atalanta fugiens, an important 17th-century alchemical emblem book by the German doctor, philosopher, and mystic Michael Maier. These images represent key alchemical processes through a series of figurative scenes. The coded narratives are designed to describe the processes without giving too much information, which might reveal the secrets of the alchemist’s art.
The book is constructed as a Möbius strip, a circular band with a half twist that allows the viewer/reader to see all the illustrations on both sides by simply passing the images through her/his hands one by one without needing to turn it over. This book makes perfect use of Kelm’s wire edge binding, which is rendered here in brightly contrasting brass and stainless steel, symbolic of the fine metals gold and silver, as well as their complementary emblems.
The finished book is dedicated to Meg Sanders (1982-2005), a graduate of Hampshire College who worked on this project at Kelm’s studio, the Wide Awake Garage.
—Aprile Gallant, Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Smith College Museum of Art
Text and images by Michael Maier.
Produced by Daniel E. Kelm with assistance from Erin Clay Nelson, Meg Sanders, Sammy Lee, Anthony J. Fiandaca, Amy Borezo, and Kylin Lee.
Acrylic spattered paper, offset printing, calligraphy, soldered brass and laser welded stainless steel hinges, iron wire, thread, and wire edge binding housed in cloth-covered paperboard with offset printed paper label.
Held in private collections.
You may request to see Neo Emblemata Nova at:
Boston Athenaeum, Rare Books
Boston Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Columbia University, Butler Library, Rare Book and Manuscripts Library
Dartmouth College, Rauner Special Collections Library
Skidmore College, Lucy Scribner Library, Special Collections
Smith College, Mortimer Rare Book Room
University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections
Wellesley College, Clapp Library, Special Collections
Included in the exhibition Poetic Science: Bookworks by Daniel E. Kelm at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.
Included in the exhibition Seductive Alchemy: Books by Artists at Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX, January 21–February 15, 2013.
Kelm collaborated with One Match Films to produce ten videos for exhibition. These videos, commissioned by Smith College Museum of Art, were on display in the gallery for the duration of the show.