The Girl in the Abstract Bed

Text by Vance Bourjaily

Drawings by Tobias Schneebaum

produced by Floriano Vecchi and Richard Miller, Tiber Press, 1954


Floriano Vecchi was born near Bologna, Italy in 1920. In 1949 he met Richard Miller, an American studying art history in Rome. They rendezvoused in the U.S. in 1952 and became lifelong partners in both love and work. They founded Tiber Press in the early 1950s, and The Girl in the Abstract Bed was their first commercial product. With drawings by their friend Tobias Schneebaum and texts by Vance Bourjaily, the folio of silk screen prints mounted on cardboard, one containing a folded double-size print, was published in an edition of 

"a) fifty-eight copies on Fabriano paper numbered I - LVIII (of which numbers VIII - LVIII are for sale), and signed by by Tobias Schneebaum and Vance Bourjaily; 

b) fifteen hundred copies numbered from 1 - 1500." 

The copy seen here was a gift to me in the early 2000s from Tobias. It is numbered 68. There's a handwritten $5 price tag inside the front cover. 

Tiber Press produced greeting cards, wallpaper, embossed napkins, and prints by artists like Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Charles Sheeler, Joan Mitchell, Mike Goldberg, Stuart Davis, Jane Freilicher, Cecil Beaton, Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Angelo Savelli, and many others. They sometimes paired artist’s prints with poems by their friends Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Daisy Aldan, James Schuyler, James Merrill, and Kenneth Koch. In 1962 Andy Warhol visited Tiber Press with a drawing he’d made of a dollar bill. He asked Floriano how to print it, and Floriano set him up to make his first of many silk screen prints. 

Floriano also claimed to have invented tiramisu just before coming to America. I believe him, though almost no one else does. Find evidence of a tiramisu before 1950 and I’ll reconsider. 

Richard Miller died in 1971 in an accident. Floriano continued to work running Tiber Press until he sold the company in 1977 to commit himself full-time to his own painting career, which he pursued until his death in 2005. 

RW

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There once was a girl 

named Nicole Pennsylvania Snow

who, when she was ten months old,

slept in an abstract bed

designed and decorated for her by a famous artist.

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She rode in a British sports carriage
powered by her water-cooled mother, jane.

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She played in a kidney-shaped playpen
built by her power-tooled father, DADA.

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She ate in a high-chair made of canvas and wrought iron.

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Her tableware was stainless steel, from Denmark, 

her porringer was pottery, from California,

and her typical luncheon menu might have been:

Chicken Livers en brochette, puree de petits pois, and Lait au lait

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How tranquilly things went! Whenever Nicole tired of walking, 
they could put Little Bop Eep on the Hi-Fi,
get out a book of Mother Proust stories,
and she would lounge about the playpen,
surrounded by her favorite toys.

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One summer day it became necessary to take Nicole to visit
her Reactionary Grandmother
in the country.

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Grandmother saw the child and steamed like a teakettle.
jane clutched her daughter's hand, firm as a Pharaoh, 
(her husband was unloading the car). 
But before the two ladies could so much as crackle
the first crisp words, 
DADA called out to jane:

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"Honeypet, could you help me with the playpen?"

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"Nicole P. Snow," rasped the Reactionary Grandmother,
grabbing at the glasses,
"you are the most peculiar,"
shucking off the slippers,
"baby that I ever saw."
And she pulled away the shirt and leotards.

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Nicole rushed happily into the sunshine to play.
The Reactionary Grandmother braced herself
ready for any battle, but to her astonishment
DADA only smiled, and said to jane:
"Look, honeypet,

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our baby is a primitive, after all."