Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary

Testament of Women


Project Statement

Testament of Women was conceived in response to Vanessa Ochs's "Sarah Laughed". The edition created between 2005 and 2006 may serve as the basis of another project aimed at a wider audience, and produced in a different format. But that remains to be seen.

Production Narrative

The first linoleum cuts were done in the spring of 2005, along with initial research and study. The bulk of the texts and drawings were created during summer of 2005. The layout dummy was made in summer 2005, all in one longish weekend of drawing and calligraphing the compositions. The linoleum cuts were made throughout spring and summer, with one additional cut for Lilith added at the end of the summer. The printing was done from summer 2005 through summer 2006 at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center using Goudy Bold, in part because it was one of the few typefaces that we had in a range of sizes and with enough font material to set these texts.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: Goudy bold was chosen on purpose to suit the neo-expressionist quality of the linoleum cuts.

imagery: Linoleum cuts have a neo-expressionist quality of certain religious art.

graphical: Compositions are asymmetrical.

openings: The layout is structured across the spreads, with a clear sense of the gutter.

turnings: These are fairly traditional, though the variations in the layouts do create a sense of rhythm from one spread to the next.

development: A series of portraits, rather than a developing narrative or structure, though Lilith closes the book and Eve opens, providing bookends. The historical progression of biblical narratives is also a determining structure.

sequence: Nothing notable.

textual: The texts have several discrete elements: scriptual citation, descriptions of a "real" woman on whom the figure is based, a retelling of the tale, and a "lesson" offered to the reader.

structure: The structure is a codex, standard format.

Critical Discussion

Testament deliberately engages historical models and contemporary women in the production of heretical lessons that push against patriarchy or submission to it. The text refuses conciliatory or submissive attitudes, and rewrites whole stories and their outcomes in order to suggest that the patriarchal legacy is still so insidiously present that it requires vigilance and active resistance in role models for women.



Johanna Drucker

type: initiating

Cut blocks
designer Decorated papers

Publication Information

publisher: Druckwerk and Granary

publication: 2006-07-15

publication history: Single edition, letterpress, 2006, 40 copies.

Aesthetic Profile

feminism (AAT)

experimental fiction (LCSH)

themes: biblical history

content form:
experimental text (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Sarah Laughed, by Vanessa Ochs.

related works: Narratology among J.Drucker's works, Lives of Wives by Laura Riding.

other influences: Sunday school textbooks of bible stories.

community: other Jewish Studies

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: other author's collection

manuscript type: mockups

location: other author's collection

manuscript type: correspondence

location: other author's collection

manuscript type: other

location: other author's collection

note: linoleum cuts, original, stored in author's collection

manuscript type: other

location: other author's collection

note: original drawings and studies for figures

General Comments

title note: The subject of the book is the retelling of tales of women who appear in the Old Testament, hence the title.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: Druckwerk and Granary

place: Charlottesville

publication: 2006-07-15

edition size: 40 copies

note: This book was originally conceived as a Druckwerk project and Steve Clay offered to take it on as a Granary book. The title page was altered to include the additional information and also a second date, as the production took longer than expected.


horizontal: inches closed

vertical: inches closed

Production Information

production means:
letterpress (local)
linoleum (local)

binding: case binding (AAT)

bookBlock: paper

ink (local) Rubber base black.


general description: Vivid poppy silk covers the boards and gives the book a contemporary feeling. The format is large enough to command some respect, but not so large as to be awkward to handle.

format: codex (AAT) Jacquonnette Binding

cover: Silk covered boards

color: no

devices: none


pagination: unpaginated

numbered?: numbered

signed?: signed


Written in response in the spring and summer of 2005. Printed in Goudy, on Rives, at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center in Charlottesvile. All linocuts, texts, printing, endsheets by the author.

Related Documents

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive

note: All are preserved in the artist's archives.