The Rain Man of drawing

Today, the last VSL Classic of 2006 — and the end of Holiday Regifting Week at Very Short List. All-new VSLs resume on January 2. Happy New Year!

A lot of art books we see look nice, sure, but are generally so precious that we tend to thumb through them once before shelving them quasi-permanently. Blackstock’s Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant is our favorite, most recent exception to that rule.

The work of Gregory L. Blackstock, a retired Seattle pot washer, the book collects his obsessive pictorial lists of, well, pretty much everything. (See samples via the link below.)

Blackstock’s taxonomy — The Early Boeing Jet Planes, Monsters of the Past, The Stringed Musical Instruments, and so on — offers the sort of quietly absorbing thrill imparted by, say, those cult-favorite Schott’s Miscellany trivia books.

As savant-syndrome expert Dr. Darold A. Treffert writes in the introduction, “his drawings show the precision of a Swiss watchmaker coupled with the wide-range musings of a philosopher.”

Along with the chipper retro innocence of a mid-century American boy grown old but not quite up.

Blackstock and his singular work are poignant as well as deeply charming — but more the latter, we’re happy to report, than the former.

VIEW sample drawings

BUY Blackstock’s Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant (Princeton Architectural Press; 144 pages, paperback)

This VSL originally appeared October 5.

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The Rain Man of drawing