An Artist’s Qur’an for Contemporary America
Paradiso is the third canticle of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Birk again collaborated with author Marcus Sanders to adapt the text into a contemporary vernacular. Paradiso, which situates Paradise in New York, contains 70 original lithographs and is bound in white leather with blue and gold stamping. Released in January 2005, it was printed and published in an edition of 100 (plus 22 proofs).
In drawings, paintings, sculptures, and ambitious long-term projects, Sandow Birk explores contemporary American life, particularly social and political issues such as inner city violence and prisons. He is best known for American Qu’ran, an ongoing project begun in 2004, for which Birk is hand-copying the Muslim holy book in English, chapter by chapter, and illustrating the surrounding blank spaces with paintings inspired by its words. Birk’s intention is to create a cross-cultural version of the book, making it accessible to Americans and expressing the commonality between different faiths; his illustrations include American everymen, including mall shoppers and golfers. In 2005 Birk also collaborated with Marcus Sanders on the rewriting and illustrating of the entirety of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
American , b. 1962, Detroit, Michigan, based in California