Donato Cinicolo



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Lithograph on paper
Support: 299 × 797 mm
Purchased 2001


Sundei by Donato Cinicolo is one of the eight printed works in Tetrad Pamphlets Vol.II. Tetrad Pamphlets consists of eight fold-out paper pamphlets in a grey cardboard box. The pamphlets occupy the middle ground between artist's book and free-standing print work. They were printed in an edition of one hundred and twenty five and the Tate copy is unnumbered and unsigned. The box also included work by Ian Tyson (born 1933), Jerome Rothenberg (born 1931), Richard Johnny John (dates unknown), Tom Phillips (born 1937), Richard Pinkney (born 1938), Ian Breakwell (born 1943), Christian Wolff (born 1934) and Valerie Large (dates unknown). They were published by the small London based Tetrad Press from which they took their name. Tetrad Press also published a number of artist's books and collaborations, as well as an earlier volume of Tetrad Pamphlets. Volume I (Tate P01688-P01697) appeared in 1971, featuring ten works in pamphlet format by Derrick Greaves (born 1927), Tom Phillips, Richard Pinkney and Ian Tyson.

Tetrad Press was founded in 1969 by the artist and publisher Ian Tyson for the purposes of developing a new relationship between contemporary art and literature. To begin with Tetrad concentrated on collaborations between visual artists and poets. The first work published was a five page folio, The 17 Horse Songs of Frank Mitchell X-X111 1969-70 (Tate P05258-P05261), a collaboration between Tyson and his close friend the American experimental poet Jerome Rothenberg. The press gradually broadened its scope to include musical scores, books, prose texts, and concrete poetry, as well as works by individual artists. The 1960s had seen a growing interest in the possibilities offered by printmaking techniques, and artists were keen to explore connections between word and image, literature and art. The artist's book offered another medium through which to explore these relationships. As Ian Tyson commented: 'it is partly the sequential nature of the book that interests me, the conception of the pages being each one a facet of the whole and that of the work being slowly revealed as one moves from one to the other.' (Quoted in unpublished Tate manuscript.)

Cinicolo's Sundei is a playful concrete poem. It consists of a green folded card containing a three page fold-out treated as a single spread. The page is printed with English and Italian words and sentences and a variety of typographic symbols such as letters, numbers, commas, arrows and dashes. The words, sentences and symbols are scattered over the page to create an image that evokes a map of the constellations, or the plan of a route through a landscape. Cinicolo groups elements together to create focus points across the page. The arrows and dashes create a sense of passage through the image and connect the areas of emphasis. Many of the English and Italian words and sentences relate to the weather and one reads: 'Darling we've got such a lovely SUN'. Cinicolo has also played with the scale of the letters, numbers and symbols using a range of different typefaces to help create the points of emphasis and guide the eye round the image. This was the only time Donato Cinicolo worked with Tetrad Press.

Further Reading:
Cathy Courtney, Speaking of Book Art: Interviews with British and American Book Artists, California 1999, pp.23-37
Some Enquiries and Observations: Ian Granger, Derrick Greaves, Tetrad Press, exhibition brochure, Sunderland Arts Centre, Sunderland 1974

Imogen Cornwall-Jones
January 2002

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