The Francis Cycle - Some Motions of the Earth

The Frances Cycle
Some Motions of the Earth

This new book is an homage to Frances Landau (1918-1995). Succumbing to Alzheimer's disease over the course of ten years, sentenced to a life of diminishing potential and the gradual loss of her world, Frannie was obliged to reinvent it. Her struggle to give voice to her intuition that she was on a downward slope toward oblivion is captured in a cycle of drawings by her husband, the internationally acclaimed artist Jacob Landau. Their mutual struggle to make a space for living on this desperate slope finds expression in a sequence of poems by David Sten Herrstrom.

A double homage, this book remembers Frannie's sinking into forgetting and, at the same time, Jacob's learning from Frannie as he struggles to buoy her up on the river of Lethe. Her words center the verbal and visual images of the book. Frannie's words also breathe through the open places of the book, silences that cannot but finally cry out, instructing all of us who are left on the shore.

The Drawings

Jacob Landau's cycle of drawings captures Frannie's struggle to find new metaphors for the self in face of its loss. As she grappled with the loss of self, Frances invented language that was an expression of the undivided self, of what was left of the creative unity. The title of each drawing is a sentence or phrase she would use again and again, and each fragment of verbal shorthand was carefully documented by Jacob. Clinging to life, to wholeness, she repeated phrases of remarkable but tragic insight, such as "It wonders me."

Avoiding sentimentality, the drawings unflinchingly depict the broken. It is a world disintegrating, throwing up bestial and oneiric images. Yet there are glimpses of the world's beginning in wholeness and its coming together again after much struggle. The particulars of disintegration and integration are limned in bold and varied lines, while the most subtle nuances of the interplay of lover and beloved pitted against death are caught in masterfully controlled tonalities.

The fourteen images of The Frances Cycle are graphite and sepia drawings on paper, which are currently preserved in their entirety in a private collection. For this edition, each image was photographed and digitalized, and proofs were corrected and adjusted under the supervision of the artist to maintain their integrity to the originals. The digital images for The Frances Cycle/Some Motions of the Earth were then printed in black and white utilizing a laser printer.

The Poems

The sequence of poems by David Sten Herrstrom presents the "holding onto wholeness" in the face of disintegration. Lover and beloved cling to unity against all odds. Frannie's husband has become "an intruder/tune familiar a stranger's buzz." Just as her own fingers, discovered, become strange, "puzzling bits of food like messages,/which the husband brings to her mouth/as if to a dance in the hive of her head."

When all is in motion, as the wheeling earth moves continually within wheels, there is no still point. This sequence of poems, accordingly, is in continual motion. The poems threaten to fly apart, words are typographically scattered; they risk sliding into the white blank of emptiness that faces each, but their centripetal pressure triumphs. At their center are the "bodies giving & receiving," and in this essential motion is a wholeness that affirms life even in dying.

The Design

The book is one of space and silences as much as it is a book of images both visual and verbal. The typographic design achieves a clean, understated simplicity and respectful spaciousness. The type is Adobe Garamond and Adobe Garamond Expert, digital versions of the metal face cut by Garamond in France in 1536. The book is bound in Iris cloth with Canson used for the end papers. The cover title plate is letterpress on an inset label.

The type pages were composed and printed by Sheena Calvert and the book was bound by Andrea Martin, combining the best of traditional printing and binding techniques with contemporary typographic technology. Both text and images are printed on 20-lb. Crane's Crest 100% cotton rag paper. The book measures 10 1/ x 7 3/ inches (26.1 x 19.7 cm.) overall.

The Edition
The deluxe edition, published by Where is There Press, Roosevelt, New Jersey, will be limited to 80 numbered copies and signed by both the artist and the poet. Each copy is protected by a vellum cover and contains a ribbon marker. 

"As Jacob's wife, Frances (Frannie), began to slip into the fantasies and abberations of Altzheimer's disease; Landau cared for her, attentively and with devotion. At the same time, be began to record her fantasies in the surrealist manner so natural to him. The poet David Herrstrom, a close friend of the Landau's, quietly pursued his own verbal reconstruction of what seemed to him the very skin and bones of reality. Both works, now assembled in this boob provide some truly enlightening clinical studies in addition to their deeply moving qualities as art"
- Bernarda Bryson Shahn

"What strikes me first about a Jacob Landau image is not its overt subject, but the force with which be welds together the components of his design."
- Peter Milton

For additional information about
The Frances Cycle /Some Motions of the Earth
please contact Jacob Landau Studio:

Jacob Landau Institute
P.O. Box 328
Roosevelt, NJ 08555

FAX: 215-361-2030

Email: or

Copyright 2007-2016, Jacob Landau