Fall Books SpecialAnimals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan 2005-2008 | Book Review | Chicago Reader

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Fall Books Special
Animals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan 2005-2008

Jay Ryan | Akashic Books


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Whether or not you like Jay Ryan's artwork, you have to give him credit for making lots of it. And ever more efficiently, too. The local screen-printing hero's first book, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels, collected rock posters he made over the course of a decade, from 1995 to 2005. This new book comprises 120 he produced in just the three years after that.


One of Ryan's hallmarks is cute little animals, and they abound in this book—although there are 131 fewer squirrels here than in 100 Posters. The work is divided into two sections, "Animals" and "Objects," between which there's not much difference: 16 out of the 44 prints in "Objects" have animals in them, and there are more bicycles in "Animals" than in "Objects." What's more, there's a poster of Lewis Black in "Animals."

Ryan's painting background is apparent in his approach to layout, composition, and color. Combinations that initially seem bold or chaotic turn out to be controlled, even somewhat subdued, upon closer inspection: rust red fading into robin's-egg blue, seafoam green flowing into burnt sienna, juice orange crashing into taupe. As an art book, it's inspiring, but the little bit of reading it entails is incidental: the pages dedicated to a partly fictional essay by Joe Meno would've been put to better use displaying more preliminary sketches or more of Ryan's own thoughts about his work. —Paul Higgins

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