In the aftermath of the Great Blackwing Fiasco of 2010, I’ve had little to say about the Palomino Blackwing pencil. This pencil doesn’t interest me. But I had to say something when the Palomino Blackwing’s manufacturer attempted to associate the pencil with the music of Duke Ellington and John Lennon. And now once again I have to say something:
California Republic recently began a line of limited-edition Blackwing “tribute” pencils. The latest one, “A Tribute to Dorothea Lange,” marks the eightieth anniversary of Lange’s photograph Migrant Mother. This pencil is a tribute in dubious taste — or a tribute to dubious taste. From the company website:
Blackwing 344 celebrates the 80th anniversary of this historic photo and the artistic legacy Dorothea Lange left behind. The deep red barrel, red foil imprint, bright red ferrule and black eraser reflect what a Blackwing 602 pencil would look like in a darkroom. The model number references Library of Congress LOT 344, which contains a number of her photographs, including the iconic “Migrant Mother.”The arbitrariness (eightieth, 344) of this tribute aside, I have to wonder what it means to ”celebrate” a photograph that documents human suffering by turning that photograph into an opportunity to market high-end stationery supplies. And I wonder what Dorothea Lange would make of it.
All Blackwing posts (Pinboard)
[I follow The Chicago Manual of Style in italicizing the title of the photograph.]