Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Search for Cleon

Click on Image To Enlarge
Several weeks ago when I asked for information about the artist Cleon who designed the bookplate for Chester Odiorne Swain,Tom Boss called to say he had seen some book jackets designed by an artist with that name in Jackets Required . Sure enough there were four pages with illustrations.

One of these is signed Cleon and one is signed Cleonike. Cleon also illustrated the dust jacket for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and Swan Song by John Galsworthy

Over at the Ask Art site I found the following biographical information:

"Born in Berkeley, CA on March 1, 1895. Damianakes studied at UC. After her marriage to Richard Oliver in 1924, she lived in Hollywood. By 1940 she was in NYC and by the 1960s she had wed Ralph Wilkins. She died in Berkeley on Aug. 27, 1979. Member: Chicago and Calif. Societies of Etchers; SFAA. In: Berkeley High School Auditorium (murals); AIC; Toronto Museum"

The real treasure trove showed up at the Flickr site. Lexecon has posted many examples of the art by her great aunt Cleon. Here is a link:

In several weeks I will be writing about bookplates with caricatures. If you have any in your collection I would appreciate a scan. Send it to

Since one good turn deserves another here is a link to Tom Boss . He has the dubious distinction of being the only full time living bookplate dealer in America.

Tom can help you obtain bookplates by topics as well as artists . They make a nice framed grouping for a special present.

See you next Sunday.


Michele Emrath said...

I love the art deco influence on her work like the "A Farewell To Arms" jacket and "Blue Voyage." But there's also something very Rubenesque about her pieces. I specifically see this in Allegretto.

Very intriguing and beautiful work. I became interested in bookplates and etching after reading "The People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks, but the interest got lost along the way. You have renewed it and I look forward to more on your blog.


nickcox said...

The photography volume, Picturing Hemingway, has nice reprints of several jackets including a couple by Cleon. As I recall they were this image from Farewell to Arms and the jacket for The Sun Also Rises.


Lex, Agent of Chaos said...

Thank you again for this post. I just had to add this bio bit regarding Cleo's parents (my great great grandparents), which rather explains her spirit and means. Her mother was moved as a child from Constantinople to San Fransisco for her siblings' education (I believe, Cleo wrote it out herself, I need to reread). Her mother left the Greek Orthodox Church seeing it as negative towards women, and was a suffragette as early as the 1880s.

Her name was Helen Penelope, and she married Nicholas Damianakes, who ended up in California for business from Crete. He owned The California Peanut Co. in Oakland (the building is still there) and was frequently in newspapers there as a leading businessman in the city.

Cleo and the siblings were therefore raised trained in the arts and in a rather educated and liberal family, but they also all had the financial means to pursue their dreams.

I'm still working on putting all pics and Cleo's handwritten genealogy online.

Thank You Again;)

P.S. Look up "Trey Azagthoth" of the band "Morbid Angel" online. He is a great nephew of Cleo's.