Is That Ick Tra or Trickd or Dickracy?

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Ever since I dreamed I received a pristine copy of Une Semaine de Bonte from its maker, Max Ernst, I have had a real soft spot in my life for collages of found printed matter. I particularly like when they are reproduced on uncoated stock to retain the grittiness of the original source material. That’s why I was immediately drawn to Jess: O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica (Siglio Press), a collection of collage narratives that are as witty as they are tactile.

The artist known as Jess (1923–2004), born Burgess Collins in Long Beach, California, was an important and influential painter and collage artist who had a defining role in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene during the latter portion of the 20th century. He was trained as a chemist and worked during World War II on the production of plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Upset over the catastrophic results, he abandoned science and in 1949 enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts. “Jess’s self-reflexive style of image-making was most powerfully conveyed in the Translations (1959-76), a group of thirty-two paintings based on found images,” note the folks at Siglio Press in Los Angeles. “They were exhibited in his first solo show in New York in 1971 at the Odyssia Gallery and shown three years later at MOMA. His paste-ups and Tricky Cad works were included in early Pop Art and assemblage exhibitions on both coasts.”

Jess: O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica, edited by Michael Duncan, includes collages, collage books, word poems, and altered comic strips that have been largely inaccessible or unavailable since their making. Originally published in small editions and obscure journals, these works demonstrate the full range of Jess’s extraordinary verbal and visual play.


Print‘s August issue is devoted to trash. It includes a special section guest designed by Sulki & Min; a visual essay by Jillian Tamaki; a look into the garbage cans and recycling bins of 18 designers; and stories by Rick Poynor, Steven Heller, Debbie Millman, Fritz Swanson, Michèle Champagne, and more. Order your copy, or download a PDF version, at