The groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show will forever have a place in art history as America’s grand introduction to Post-Impressionist art. Addressing those avant-garde artists is The Cubies’ ABC, written and illustrated by married couple Edward Harvey Lyall and Mary Mills Lyall and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons/The Knickerbocker Press. Though the book was intended as a criticism of modern art, I find its clever rhyming passages and imaginative illustrations to be playful and fun.
Scanning the book’s pages, you’ll see three Cubies experimenting with still lives and sculptures, yawning at traditionalists, literally eating words, and letting loose with a reckless abandon befitting the children’s book setting. Most notable for me is the lively vocabulary abounding in Mary Mills Lyall’s verses. With words like anatomical, limpid, ad libitum, and quixotic, you’ll want your dictionary handy.
The book was digitized by Internet Archive and is also available on Open Library. If you haven’t spent much time on Open Library, you should! Find more unexpected gems and keep me in the loop about digitized books that stop you in your internet tracks. Read more about the book and its reprinting here.