On “The Book” (MIT Press, 2018)

With apologies to the preacher:  Of making many books [on books] there is no end. 

                                                                                                                (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

With the choir of its forebearers, Amaranth Borsuk’s The Book (MIT Press, 2018) sounds an “amen” to that truth. The proliferation of degree programs in book studies covering the history of the book, the book arts and even book art ensures The Book will not be the last. What distinguishes Borsuk’s book are her perspective as an artist and the book’s breadth and depth despite its brevity.

The book has a long history of existential crises. What is a book? Is the end of the book nigh?  For more than a century, those questions have returned again and again. The most recent recurrence stems from the ebook’s threat to dematerialize the book and the online world’s threat to take us into a post-text future. Even before these latest threats, book artists have long lived and worked with their own existential questions, a kind of higher existential calculus, or derivative of, the book’s crises: What is an artist’s book? What is book art?  Stephen Bury, Riva Castleman, Johanna Drucker, Joan Lyons, Stefan Klima, Clive Philpott and many others in the last quarter of the 20th century dwelt on defining and categorizing book art.

Borsuk belongs to a later generation of book artists that has embraced these existential crises and recognized that the book’s existential crises are what make the book a rich medium in which and with which to create art — from bio-art miniature to the biblioclastic human-scale to large-scale installations and performances. Even to the digital.

The Origin of Species (2016)
Dr. Simon Park, Guildford, Surrey
“The small book shown here was grown from and made entirely from bacteria. Not only is the fabric of its pages (GXCELL) produced by bacteria, but the book is also printed and illustrated with naturally pigmented bacteria. ” Posted 27 March 2016. Photo credit: Dr. Simon F. Park
Silenda: Black Sea Book (2015)
Jacqueline Rush Lee
Transformed Peter Green‘s translation of Ovid’s Tristia and the Black Sea Letters
H9.5″ x W12″ x D6.5.” Manipulated Text, Ink, Graphite
Photo credit: Paul Kodama. In Private Collection, NL
Enclosed Content Chatting Away in the Colour Invisibility (2009)
Anouk Kruithof
Reproduced with permission of the artist
Field (2015)
Johannes Heldén
Produced, and premiered, at HUMlab, Umeå University
Reproduced with permission of the artist

Performance artist and academic as well, Borsuk brings that later generational and creative perspective to the existential question — What is the book? — and, with an artist’s perception of her medium of choice, displaces the old companion existential question — Is the end of the book nigh? — with an altogether more interesting one — Where next for the book?

To see where books might be going, we must think of them as objects that have experienced a long history of experimentation and play. Rather than bemoaning the death of books or creating a dichotomy between print and digital media, this guide points to continuities, positioning the book as a changing technology and highlighting the way artists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have pushed us to rethink and redefine the term. (pp. xiii-xiv)

In The Book, the future is not far from the physical past. Where once we had text on scrolls, now we scroll through text (albeit more vertically than horizontally). Where once human consciousness changed with the invention of the alphabet and writing, now it may be altering with our reading and writing through networked digital devices. Like the many historians before her, Borsuk starts with cuneiform (those wedge-shaped accounting marks on baked clay), hieroglyphics and the invention of the alphabet to set the scene for the advent of the book and its ongoing physicality:

  • its shape (scroll, accordion, codex)
  • its material (papyrus, vellum, paper, charcoal or mineral-based watercolor and ink)
  • its manufacture (scribing, printing by woodblock and movable type, design and typography, illumination and illustration, folding into pages, methods of binding)
  • its constituent and navigational parts (cover, book block, title page, table of contents, page numbering, index).

But Borsuk reminds us — from Sumer’s clay to Amazon’s Kindle, from Johannes Gutenberg to Project Gutenberg — the book as human artifact exists in a social, political, technological, economic and even ecological context. Who is allowed to make it, how it is transacted, how and where we use it, how we perceive and speak of it — all have affected the physicality of the book object and are reflected in it. 

In the first half of The Book, Borsuk steers us through these interdependencies to a turning point. That turning point is where the pinnacle of the book arts — Beatrice Warde‘s and Jan Tschichold‘s vision of the book as a crystalline container of content — and the book’s commodification combine to cause the book’s physicality to disappear because it is so taken for granted, leaving us with “the book as idea”.

With the perception that books are ideas bestowed on readers by an authorial genius whose activity is purely intellectual, the book’s object status vanished for much of the reading public as we raised a glass to happily consume its contents…. Even though innumerable material elements come together to make the book, these features have been naturalized to such a degree that we now hardly notice them, since we have come to see content as the copyrightable, consumable, marketable aspect of the work. (pp. 106-9)

At this turning point — where “the historic relationship between materiality and text is severed” (p. 112) — the second half of The Book introduces book art. It is telling that the longest chapter in the book begins the second half, that it is called “The Book as Idea” and that it comes before any extended engagement with the digital dematerialization of the book. It is a wry pivot: the artistic genius supplants the authorial genius; what the latter takes as invisible background, the former re-makes as self-regarding foreground.  As Borsuk shows and her book’s cover neatly demonstrates, works of book art are inevitably self-referential and self-aware.

As such, works of book art

have much to teach us about the changing nature of the book, in part because they highlight the “idea” by paradoxically drawing attention to the “object” we have come to take for granted. They disrupt our treatment of the book as a transparent container for literary and aesthetic “content” and engage its material form in the work’s meaning. (p. 113)

Rather than offer a chronological history of book art to explore what “artists’ books have to teach us about a path forward for the book”, Borsuk offers “flashpoints” that represent “the energies motivating artwork in book form”(p. 117).  These “flashpoints” are William BlakeStéphane Mallarmé, Ed Ruscha and Ulises Carrión. Following these flashpoints, Borsuk organizes the rest of the chapter into “key themes that recur throughout artists’ books of the twentieth century: spatiotemporal play, animation, recombinant structures, ephemerality, silence, and interactivity” (pp. 146-47).

Oddly, Blake as flashpoint does not illuminate these six particular themes.  Rather Borsuk notes three other recurrent themes or “energies motivating artwork in book form” that Blake and his work represent: centering or re-centering the production processes on the author/artist; using the book as a sociopolitical and visionary platform; and redefining, developing and challenging the relationship between word and image.  

Blake refers to himself as “The Author & Printer W. Blake,” making clear the union of creativity and craft in his work. (p. 121)

Blake’s engagement with the social issues of his day, and his use of book form to respond to child labor, urban squalor, and slavery, established an important trend in both artists’ books and independent publishing—the utility of the book as a means of spreading social justice. (pp. 121, 124)

Blake used his craftsmanship to develop the relationship between word and image (p. 140)

One need not look far among twentieth and twenty-first century book artists for resonance with those themes. That Blakean union of creativity and craft resurfaces in artists such as Ken Campbell (UK), Cathryn Miller (Canada), Pien Rotterdam (Netherlands), Barb Tetenbaum (US) and Xu Bing (China)  — some of them even to the point of carving or setting their own type, making their own paper, pulp printing on it themselves or binding the finished work themselves. Vision and sociopolitical observation have risen up in the works of artists such as Doug Beube (Canada), Julie K. Dodd (UK), Basia Irland (US), Diane Jacobs (US), Anselm Kiefer (Germany) and Chris Ruston (UK). Blake’s redefining the relationship of word (or text) to image often reappears in book artists’ abcedaries and their children’s books such as A Dictionary Story by Sam Winston (UK).  As for emulators of Blake in technical innovation, consider the analogue example of Australian Tim Mosely’s works created with his patented pulp printing process, where the “ink” is actually colored pulp, or the digital example of Borsuk’s work Between Page and Screen, where the pages contain no text—only QR codes that, when scanned with a webcam, activate the text’s appearance on the reader’s browser screen.

For her second flashpoint, Borsuk selects another visionary, Stéphane Mallarmé, who like Blake was reacting to his own perceived Satanic mills draining poetry of its spirituality. Mallarmé’s Satanic mills dispensed rigid columns of newsprint to the masses and bland expanses of poetry and fiction set by Linotype machines in the neo-classical Didot font. With his famous visionary dictum — “everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book” (p. 135) — Mallarmé nudged the book toward pure concept and opened its mystical covers to the Dadaists, Surrealists, Futurists, Vorticists, Lettrists, Conceptualists and biblioclasts. With spatiotemporal play — mixing type sizes and fonts, breaking up the line and even breaking the page — Mallarmé used text to evoke image and, in his view, remake the book as a “spiritual instrument”. His post-humous book-length poem Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance), published in 1897, embodies that vision and continues to cast its flashpoint light across multiple generations of book artists’ efforts. From Marcel Broodthaers in 1969, we have his homage to Un Coup de Dés. From Jérémie Bennequin in 2014, we have his serial “omage” to Broodthaers’ homage. And, most recently, we have the 2015 new bilingual edition A Roll of the Dice by Jeff Clark and Robert Bononno, for which Borsuk provides a perceptive reading.

Where Mallarmé’s flashpoint enlisted his vision alongside the cry “épater le bourgeois” from Baudelaire and other late nineteenth-century poets, Ed Ruscha’s later flashpoint illuminates a democratic counterpoint, a Zen-like vision and a very different way of changing the relationship of text to image. Ruscha’s self-published photobooks were cheap and distributed outside the gallery-controlled channels of art. As Borsuk shows — directly with Ruscha and indirectly with the many book artists influenced by him — the text is restricted to the book’s title, which interacts with a series of deadpan photos and their layout to deliver a wry, tongue-in-cheek work of book art. Ruscha’s spatiotemporal play manifests itself across the accordion book format and out-of-sequence juxtapositions. Ironically Ruscha’s works now command thousands of dollars per copy, and one has more chance of seeing them in an exhibition than in a roadside stop’s rack of newspapers, magazines and mass-market paperbacks.

Display of Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk, 1964, at the Gulbenkian’s Pliure: Prologue (la Part du Feu), 2 February – 12 April 2015, Paris. Photo credit: Robert Bolick
Reflected in the upper right corner, the film clip of Truffaut’s 1966 Fahrenheit 451; in the lower left hand corner, Bruce Nauman’s 1968 Burning Small Fires;  and in the upper left, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva’s 1974 La bibliotheque en feu.

Mexico’s Ulises Carrión — polemicist, European bookshop owner, conceptual artist and Borsuk’s fourth choice of flashpoints — is a counter-flashpoint to Ruscha. Where Ruscha reveled in self-publishing commodification, Carrión sneered at the book in its traditional commercial form. Where Ruscha has resisted the label “conceptual artist”, Carrión played the role to the hilt. Where Ruscha’s work has elicited numerous homages (see Various Small Books from MIT Press in 2013) and achieved a high profile, Carrión’s work, much lower in profile, has provided a more compelling range of hooks or influences on which to hang many different manifestations of book art (or bookworks as Carrión preferred). In fact, Borsuk’s six stated key themes or “energies motivating artwork in book form” come from Carrión’s manifestos (pp. 146-47).

The first theme — “spatiotemporal play” — comes from Carrión’s initial definition of the book as a “sequence of spaces”, which Borsuk traces to tunnel books, pop-ups and even large-scale constructs, the latter illustrated by American Alison Knowles‘ inhabitable The Big Book (1968). One more possible future of the book implied by spatiotemporal play manifests itself in Borsuk’s own augmented-reality (AR) works, those of Caitlin Fisher (Canada) and Carla Gannis’ Selfie Drawings (2016), in which portraits on the hardcover book’s pages animate and change when viewed through smartphone or tablet.

Borsuk takes the second theme, that of “animation”, from Carrión’s dictum: “Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment— a book is also a sequence of moments”. As her several examples illustrate, much book art is cinematic. Borsuk’s exposition of Canadian Michael Snow‘s Cover to Cover (1975) comes closest to reproducing the experience I enjoyed of “watching” that photo bookwork from cover to cover several times at the now closed Corcoran Art Gallery. Borsuk is quick and right to remind that the cinematic future of the book has been with us for a long time, even before the cinema. She bookends her exposition of Snow’s book and  and the text animation of American Emmett WilliamsSweethearts (1967) on one side with Victorian flip-books and on the other with American Bob Brown‘s 1930s The Readies (presumably pronounced “reedies” to follow Brown’s comparison of his scrolling one-line texts with the cinema’s “talkies”).  

A forgotten modernist, Brown declared the obsolescence of the book, predicted a new form of reading and technology to enable it, an optical projector emitting text into the ether and directly into the eyeball. But what does this tell us about the future of the book? Borsuk notes Craig Saper‘s resurrection of Brown’s Roving Eye Press and how he even put together a website that emulates Brown’s reading machineIn her phrase describing the machine’s effect of “turning readers themselves into a kind of machine for making meaning” (p. 168), Borsuk hints at a future of digitally interactive books, which she takes up in the next section and more extensively in the next chapter. At this point, however, the reader could use a hint of practicality and skepticism. Linear-one-word-at-a-time reading, however accelerated, eliminates affordances of the page, ignores graphics and strains against the combination of peripheral vision and rapid eye movement we unconsciously (even atavistically?) deploy as we “read” whatever we see. Although in the next section Borsuk does bring on more likely examples of the book’s future exploitation of its cinematic affordances (manga, graphic novels and children’s books), this section’s treatment of animation misses the chance to cite actual recent successes like Moonbot Studios‘ The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2012) and others.

Once into the third theme — “recombinant structure” — it is clear that Borsuk’s chosen Carriónesque themes overlap one another. Like the cinematic, the recombinant structure manifests itself in accordion books. It extends, however, to something more interactive: volvelles (or medieval apps as Erik Kwakkel calls them), interactive pop-ups, harlequinades (flap books) and more.  Borsuk uses Raymond Queneau‘s harlequinade Cent mille milliards de poèmes ( One hundred thousand billion poems, 1961), Dieter Roth‘s slot books and works by Carolee Schneemann to illustrate book art’s celebration of the concept. The fact that Queneau’s book is still easily available on Amazon vouches for book art’s predictive qualities. The example of Marc Saporta’Composition No. 1 (Éditions du Seuil, 1962), “a box of 150 leaves printed on only one side that the reader is instructed to shuffle at the outset”, goes Queneau one better —ironically.  In 2011, Visual Editions reissued Composition No. 1 in print and app forms. Alas, the former is out of print, and the latter is no longer available for download.

Composition No. 1 (2011)
Marc Saporta
Translation by Richard Howard, Introduction by T.L. Uglow, Google Creative Lab, Diagrams by Salvador Plascencia and Designed by Universal Everything Photo credit: Robert Bolick

Borsuk draws her fourth theme — ephemerality — from Carrión’s dictum: 

I firmly believe that every book that now exists will eventually disappear. And I see here no reason for lamentation. Like any other living organism, books will grow, multiply, change color, and, eventually, die. At the moment, bookworks represent the final phase of this irrevocable process. Libraries, museums, archives are the perfect cemeteries for books. (p. 145)

To illustrate, Borsuk begins with the physical biblioclasts — those who in Doug Beube‘s phrase are “breaking the codex“. They include Beube himself, Bruce Nauman (see above), Brian Dettmer, Cai Guo-Qiang, Marcel DuchampDieter Roth and Xu Bing. While some of these artists reflect a twenty-first century surge of interest in altered books and book sculpture, “facilitated by the overarching notion that the book is an artifact not long for this world” (pp.82-84), others have taken a more generative archaeological approach — erasing or cutting away a book’s words to reveal another. Examples include Tom Phillips‘ A Humument (1966-2014) and Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Tree of Codes (2010). Phillips’ bookwork serves multiple purposes for Borsuk’s arguments.  Not only does it represent the book art of “erasure”, its success across multiple editions, digital formats and presence in art galleries supports her notion of book art’s predictive qualities.

There is a variant on her theme that Borsuk does not illustrate and is worth consideration for her next edition: the self-destructing yet regenerative work of book art. Examples could include American Basia Irland‘s series ICE BOOKS: Ice receding/Books reseeding (2007-), which gives a formidably tangible and new meaning to “publishing as dissemination”; and Canadian Cathryn Miller‘s tail-chasing Recomp (2014); and Argentinian Pequeño Editor‘s Mi Papa Estuvo en la Selva (2015), which after reading can be planted to grow into a jacaranda tree.

Recomp (2014)
Cathryn Miller
Copy of Decomp, Collis and Scott (2013) nailed to a tree. Photo credit: David G. Miller
Recomp (2015)
Photo credit: David G. Miller
Recomp vandalized (2015)
Photo credit: David G. Miller

The last section in this chapter expands on the fifth theme — silence — drawn from Carrión’s statement:

The most beautiful and perfect book in the world is a book with only blank pages, in the same way that the most complete language is that which lies beyond all that the words of a man can say. Every book of the new art is searching after that book of absolute whiteness in the same way that every poem searches for silence.  Ulises Carrión, Second Thoughts (1980), pp. 15-16.

Among her several examples are Pamela Paulsrud‘s Touchstones (2007-10), which look like stones but are books sanded-down into stone-like shapes, and Scott McCarney‘s 1988 Never Read (Opposed to Ever Green), a sculpture composed of stacked library discards that narrows as it ascends.  Paulsrud’s, McCarney’s, Irland’s and Miller’s works are what Borsuk calls “muted objects”, but they speak and signify nevertheless: 

Muted books take on a totemic [metaphoric] significance…. The language of the book as a space of fixity, certainty, and order reminds us that the book has been transmuted into an idea and ideal based on the role it plays in culture…. Defining the book involves consideration for its use as much as its form. (pp. 193-95)

 

Never Read (Opposed to Ever Green) (1988)
Scott McCarney
Reproduced with permission of the artist
Never Read (Opposed to Ever Green) (1988)
Scott McCarney
Reproduced with permission of the artist
Never Read (Opposed to Ever Green) (1988)
Scott McCarney
Reproduced with permission of the artist

Borsuk is a superb stylist of the sentence and expository structure. The words above, concluding chapter three, launch the reader into Borsuk’s final theme of interactivity and her unifying metaphor: “the book as interface”. Owners of Kindles, buyers from Amazon, perusers of Facebook — we may think we know what’s coming next in The Book and for the book, but Borsuk pushes the reader to contemplate the almost real-time evolutionary change we have seen with ebook devices and apps, audiobooks, the ascension of books to the cloud via Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and Google Books, and their descent to Brewster Kahle‘s physical back-up warehouse (to be sited in Canada in light of recent political events) and into flattening ebook sales of late. Chapter 4 is a hard-paced narrative of the book’s digital history from the Memex in Vannevar Bush‘s 1945 classic “As we may think” to T.L. Uglow‘s 100-author blockchain collaboration in 2017, A Universe Explodes from Visual Editions’ series Editions at Play.

Borsuk reminds us:

Our current moment appears to be much like the first centuries of movable type, a cusp. Just as manuscript books persisted into the Gutenberg era, books currently exist in multiple forms simultaneously: as paperbacks, audiobooks, EPUB downloads, and, in rare cases, interactive digital experiences. (p. 244)

Borsuk weaves into this moment of the book’s future a reminder that print affordances such as tactility (or the haptic) and the paratextual (those peripheral elements like page numbers, running heads, ISBNs, etc., that Gary Frost argues “make the book a book”) have been finding fresh ways into the way we read digitally. The touchscreen enables us to read between the lines literally in the novella Pry (2014) by Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizaro (2014). Breathe (2018) by Kate Pullinger, another work in the Editions at Play series, uses GPS to detect and insert the reader’s location, the time and weather, and when the reader tilts the device or rubs the screen, hidden messages from the story’s (the reader’s?) ghosts appear.

At this point, an earlier passage from The Book should haunt the reader:

Artists’ books continually remind us of the reader’s role in the book by forcing us to reckon with its materiality and, by extension, our own embodiment. Such experiments present a path forward for digital books, which would do well to consider the affordances of their media and the importance of the reader, rather than treating the e-reader as a Warde-ian crystal goblet for the delivery of content. (p. 147)

Borsuk convinces. Art, artifact, concept — wrought by hand and mind, hands and minds — the book is our consensual tool and toy for surviving beyond our DNA. So now what? Metaphor, hints and historical flashpoints may illuminate where we have been, how it shows up in contemporary books and book art and where we may be going with it. In ten or one hundred years though, how will a book publisher become a book publisher? Given the self-publishing capability today’s technology offers, will anyone with a file on a home computer and an internet connection consider himself or herself a book publisher? Borsuk thinks not:

The act of publication — of making public — is central to our cultural definition of the book. Publication might presume some cultural capital: some editorial body has deemed this work worthy of print. It might also presume an audience: a readership clamors for this text. But on a fundamental level, publication presumes the appendage of elements outside the text that help us recognize it as a book, even when published in digital form. (pp. 239-40)

How will future book publishers learn to master the appendage of these elements outside the text (the paratext) that make a book a book “even when published in digital form”? Borsuk’s commentary on the ISBN as one of these elements sheds oblique light on that. She points to the artist Fiona Banner’s uses of the ISBN under her imprint/pseudonym Vanity Press — tattooing one one her lower back, publishing a series Book 1/1 (2009) consisting of sixty-five ISBN’d pieces of mirrored cardstock and then collecting them in a photobook entitled ISBN 978-1-907118-99-9 in order to deposit those one-offs with the British Library as required by the UK’s Legal Deposit Libraries Act. What can a future ebook publisher deduce from this?

That the use of a globally unique identifier (GUID) matters.

The backstory of the transition from ISBN10 to ISBN13 and that of ebooks, ISBNs and Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) might provide interesting fodder. The notion that the book industry was running out of 10-digit ISBNs was a red herring used to convince industry executives to adopt the more widely used format of unique identifiers overseen by GS1. The real reason for moving to ISBN13 — reduced friction in the supply chain — was too hard to sell. About the same time, some major publishers proposed incorporating the ISBN into the DOI for an industry-standard ebook identifier.  The DOI offered an existing digital, networked infrastructure already being used by most of the world’s scientific, technical and medical journals publishers. It is an offshoot of the Handle System, established by Robert Kahn. Sad to say, few book publishers adopted the DOI for their ebooks; still fewer used the DOI’s application- and network-friendliness to enable their ebooks to take advantage of the network’s digital affordances.

The DOI shares with the ISBN a feature that Borsuk points out as a limitation to more widespread use: it is not free. A significant percentage of ebooks exist without ISBNs, much less DOIs. If a digital GUID is to be used in ways that help us recognize the identified digital object as a book, future book publishers and their providers of a network ecosystem supporting ebooks, linking with the print ecosystem and reducing friction in the supply chain still have wide gaps in commerce and knowledge to close. Perhaps this particular paratextual element is unnecessary for the book’s digital future, but until those gaps are narrowed, the ecosystem for eBooks will remain balkanized by Amazon, Apple, Google, Lulu and the more digitally literate denizen of the print publishing industry. In the meantime, as Borsuk’s examples throughout her book show, there are boundless other print and digital affordances with which publishers, authors, editors, designers, typographers, developers and readers can play as they continue to shape the book.

The Book‘s publication month, June 2018, is auspicious, being the same for the Getty Center’s exhibition “Artists and Their Books/Books and Their Artists“, June 26 – October 28. The Center and MIT Press would do well to have stacks of The Book on hand.  The Book will also serve as an excellent introductory textbook for courses on book art or the history of the book.  And by virtue of its style and artist’s perspective, Borsuk’s book will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in this essential technology of civilization and its growing role as a material and focus of art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

Bookmarking Book Art – An Online Annotation of Germano Celant’s “Book as Artwork 1960/1972”

Where to go to compare and contrast the book art in Germano Celant’s pioneering “catalogue” of the Nigel Greenwood Gallery exhibition in London (1972) with that of the last half century?

Being a sort of small and portable catalogue and curator’s explanation for the gallery’s exhibition of ca. 300 works, Celant’s Book as Artwork is arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by artist. Presumably it was organized to match the exhibition’s organization (note the year 1967 in upper left of the photograph below and the distinctive Hidalgo cover, fifth from the left). With no photographs of the works, Book as Artwork gives no easily accessible visual sense of the 300 works in that exhibition. If we had that starting visual touchpoint, it would be easier to “place” the period or individual works in relation to book art from the 80’s onward.

Book as Artwork 1960 – 1972 – Exhibition Nigel Greenwood Gallery B, 1972..

 

Stephen Bury’s Artists’ Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963 – 2000 (2015) includes, by design, only a handful of the artists and works selected for the Celano/Greenwood exhibition.

Lucy Lippard’s Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972 (1973, 1997) — a “bibliography into which are inserted a fragmented text, art works, documents, interviews, and symposia, arranged chronologically” — comes as close as one might hope in black-and-white print for a starting visual touchpoint. Lippard’s scope, however, ranges beyond book art, so the number illustrated limits systematic visual comparison and contrast with the book art of the ensuing decades.

Phaidon’s Artists Who Make Books (2017) provides good coverage and bridges the 1960s to the 21st century. The essays and descriptions bring the book art off the page and into the mind’s hands.

Best of all is Lynda Morris’s mini-memoir of her role in organizing the Celant/Greenwood exhibition.

Germano had sent Nigel [Greenwood] a wonderful, arty handwritten letter in pink capitals … on December 22, 1970:

DEAR PUBLISHER I AM PREPARING FOR A NEW INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE A COMPLETE ANTHOLOGY OF BOOKS MADE DIRECTLY BY ARTISTS. 

…Nigel had met Germano and had his telephone number in Genoa. I was sitting beside him when he phoned and proposed Book as Artwork exhibition for September 1972. Germano immediately agreed.

For sources of book art since the close of the Celant/Greenwood exhibition, we are spoilt for choice. Print and digital, image-rich aggregations of book art abound. We can return to the Phaidon and Bury books. We can turn to the well-illustrated print and online publications from the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of Western England, online library collections such as the MassArt Library or Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, the websites of dealers such as Zucker Art Books displaying their wares, the dozens of websites for recurring book art fairs such as International Artist’s Books Triennial Vilnius (1997 – present) and CODEX International Book Fair (2007 – present) and community sites such as Artist Books 3.0. Present-day online access challenges Mallarmé’s dictum: ”Everything in the world exists to end up in a book.” Now it seems:

Everything in the world exists to end up on the web.

As far as that premise holds, this annotation and rearrangement of Celant’s bibliography — a “webliography” — offers an online starting point for connecting the book as artwork 1960/1972 with the book as artwork since. In providing some images of the works and links to images, the webliography offers anyone interested in book art the means to gain a more colored impression of the period’s book art.  That the primary impression is still black and white underscores the impact of xerographic technology on artists then as well as that of conceptualism driven by text or photograph. A webliographic approach also offers the opportunity to link the book art of the Celant exhibition with book-oriented Web-art or Net-art such as that of Amaranth Borsuk, Taeyoon Choi, Gunnar Green, Johannes Heldén, Bernhard Hopfengärtner and many others referenced below.

The reorganization here of Celant’s and Morris’s list — by artist alphabetically then chronologically — makes it easier to see the curators’ tendencies in selection as well as the influence of practical factors. The curators’ selection is obviously more Western, less Eastern European and even less Middle Eastern and Asian. Individuals’ prodigality surely played a role in whom and what was included. As Morris’s essay in the Phaidon book reveals, the geographical proximity of works available to be chosen played a role; so, too, the influence of the then-contemporary art network played a role (Atkinson, Beuys, Celant, Dwan, Greenwood, Hansjorg Mayer, Walther König, Maenz, Siegelaub, Sperone and the many other personalities of the Art-Language, Arte Povera, Conceptualist and Fluxus movements); and even the size of suitcases and availability of transport for bringing the artwork into the UK played a role. 

Generally the online links for the artists’/authors’ names lead to biographies, either in their official websites, Wikipedia or other news sources. Where an artist/author is listed multiple times, the links vary from instance to instance to provide a wider range of information about the individual and, in some cases (such as Dieter Rot’s), more images. The links behind the publishers’ names go to publishers’ websites or Wikipedia entries about them. The links that follow each entry resolve to images of the work, videos, audio, interviews or essays relevant to the work. For selected entries in Celant’s list, a compare/contrast takes the user to websites or works whose juxtaposition might shed light on the similarities or differences between the item in Celant’s list and book art of the subsequent decades.

The webliography also supports the haptically as well as digitally inclined. The links behind the titles of the works provide information on the nearest library location of the work (although not all titles could be located).  Be sure to enter your own location and refresh the results. And when you visit, be sure to take a copy of Germano Celant’s little book, which, thanks to 6 Decades Books is possible by download and, thanks to online used-book sellers, can still be purchased in print.

βΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσ

A “webliography” for

Germano Celant’s Books as Artworks 1960/1972

2nd edition, published by 6 Decades Books, 2010, and 1st edition published by Nigel Greenwood, Inc., 1972.

______. Manifestos. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1966. [Contributors: Ay-OPhilip CornerRobert FilliouJohn GiornoAl HansenDick HigginsAllan KaprowAlison KnowlesNam June PaikDiter RotJerome RothenbergWolf VostellRobert Watts, and Emmett Williams] [Images] [Compare/contrast with Jessica Lack’s Why Are We ‘Artists’?: 100 World Art Manifestos]

Acconci, Vito. Transference: Roget’s Thesaurus. New York: 0 to 9 Books, 1969. [Image] [Video] [Essay] [Compare/contrast with Sam Winston’s Darwin, 2015]

Agnetti, Vincenzo. 14 Proposizioni sul Linguaggio Portatile. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1972. [originally published in Flash Art]

Andre, Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, LeWitt, Morris and Weiner.  The Xerox Book. New York: Seth Siegelaub, Jack Wendler, 1968. [Image] [Video, Jack Wendler] [Compare/contrast with Michael Mandiberg’s Print Wikipedia, 2015, and Paul Soulellis’ Library of the Printed Web, 2013 to present]

Andre, Carl. Seven Books of Notes and Poetry. New York: Dwan Gallery/Seth Siegelaub, 1969. [Images] [Essay on artist] [Video, Carl Andre] [Video, retrospective] [Compare/contrast with Sam Winston’s Dictionary Story Book, 2014]

Anselmo, Giovanni. Leggere. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1972. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Leilei Guo’s The Way, 2008]

Art & Language. Olivet Discourse. Paris: Templon Editeur, 1971. [Image]

Atkinson, Terry; Baldwin, Michael. Frameworks-Air Conditioning. Coventry: Art & Language Press, 1967. [Image] [Essay] [Video of Baldwin and Ramsden, Chicago symposium] [Compare/contrast with Taeyoon Choi’s “Zero & One”, 2017]

Art & Language – Poster for Air-Conditioning Show, 1971-1972
Colección MACBA. Consorcio MACBA. Depósito Philippe Méaille.

 

Atkinson, Terry; Baldwin, Michael. Hot-Warm-Cool-Cold. Coventry: Art & Language Press, 1967. [Image]

Atkinson, Terry; Baldwin, Michael. 22 Sentences: The French Army. Coventry: Precinct Publications, 1968. [Image]

Atkinson, Terry; Baldwin, Michael. Sunnybank. Coventry: Art & Language Press, 1969. [Image] [Compare/contrast with M.L. Van Nice’s Feast is in the Belly of the Beholder, 2010]

Atkinson, Terry; Baldwin, Michael. Theories of Ethics. New York: Art & Language Press, 1971. [Image]

Atkinson, Terry; Bainbridge, David; Baldwin, Michael; Harrison, Charles; Hurrell, Harold; Kosuth, Joseph. Art-Language. Cologne: Dumont Schauberg, 1972. [Essay] [Essay]

Image result for art & language: texte zum phänomen kunst und sprache [book]

Baldessari, John. Ingres and Other Parables. London: Studio International, 1972. [Image]

Baldessari, John. Choosing: Green Beans. Milan: Edizioni Toselli, 1972. [Images][Compare/contrast with George Gessert’s Natural Selection, 1994]

Baldwin, Michael; Hurrell, Harold. Handbook to Ingot. New York, Coventry: Art & Language Press, 1971. [Image] [Video of Baldwin and Ramsden]

Barry, Robert. ”   “. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1970. [Images] [Essay] [Compare/contrast with Elisabeth Tonnard’s The Invisible Book, 2012]

Barry, Robert. Robert Barry 1969-71. Cologne: Gerd de Vries, 1971. [Compare/contrast with Elisabeth Tonnard’s A Dialogue in Useful Phrases, 2010]

Barry, Robert. Something Which Is…(30 Pieces as of 14th June 1971). Cologne: Paul Maenz, 1971. [Image]

Barry, Robert. Two Pieces. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1971.[Images]

Baruchello, Gianfranco. Mi viene in mente. Milan: Edizioni Galleria Schwarz, 1966. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Xu Bing’s Book from the Ground, 2014]

Becher, Bernd & Hilla. Anonyme Skulpturen. Dusseldorf: Städtische Kunsthalle Verlag, 1970.  [Image] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Anselm Kiefer’s The Rhine, 1992-2013, and Helen Malone’s Ten Books on Architecture, 2012]

Blake, John. John Blake : recent work, 1969-71 : a travelling exhibition arranged by the Circulation Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1972. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Anouk Kruithof’s The Daily Exhaustion, 2010]

Bochner, Mel;  Cherix, ChristopheWorking Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed As Art: Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts,December 2 – December 23, 1966 [New York]. Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 1997. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Johanna Drucker’s All: the Books I Never Wrote or Wrote and Never Published, 1962 to 2017]

Bochner, Mel. The Singer Notes. New York: Self-published, 1968. [Images] [Compare/contrast Bochner’s notes and drawings resulting from conversations with scientists and engineers at Singer Labs in New Jersey with the Smithsonian Libraries’ online exhibition Science and the Artist’s Book, 1995]

Bochner, Mel. Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography). New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

Bochner, Mel. Notes on Theory. Kingston, RI: University of Rhode Island, 1971. [Image]

Bochner, Mel. 11 Excerpts (1967 – 1970). Paris: Edition Sonnabend, 1972. [Images]

Boshier, Derek. 16 Situations. London: Idea Books, 1971. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Sascha Pohflepp’s and Chris Woebken’s Situated Sampling Set, 2017]

Derek Boshier, Situation 1 (from the ‘16 Situations’ series), photograph, 1971
See The Courtauld Institute blog.

 

Boyle, Mark. Journey to the Surface of the Earth. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1970. [Images and book by J.L. Locher] [Compare/contrast with New England Guild of Book Workers’ Geographies: New England Book Work, 2014]

Brecht, George. Fluxus No. 1 March 1964. New York: Valise eTRangLE, 1964. [Images]

Brecht, George. Chance-Imagery. New York: Something Else Press, 1966. [Images, including facsimiles] [Compare/contrast with Barb Tetenbaum’s and Julie Chen’s Artist’s Book Ideation Cards, 2013, and Paul Soulellis’s Chancebook #1 (Why Does It Hurt So Bad), 2013]

Brecht, George; Filliou, Robert. Games at the Cedilla, or the Cedilla Takes Off. New York: Something Else Press, 1967. [Images]

Brøgger, Stig. 21. marts 1969 = March 21 1969. Copenhagen: Jysk Kunstgalerie, 1969. [Second edition]

Broodthaers, Marcel. Image: un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard. Antwerp: Wide White Space, 1969. [Images] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Doug Beube’s Veil: Secret Wars of the C.I.A., 1996, J. Meejin Yoon’s Absence, 2004, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes, 2010, Pauline Rafal’s Windows, 2014, and James Bridle’s Every Redaction, 2015]

Double-page spread Marcel Broodthaers Image: Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard, 1969

 

Brouwn, Stanley. 100 This Way Brouwn Problems for Computer IBM Model 95. Cologne: Walther König, 1970. [Essay] [Compare/contrast with Julie Johnstone’s 2-20% | 20-2cm, 2014]

Brouwn, Stanley. La Paz. Schiedam: Stedelijk Museum, 1970.[Image] [Images]

Brouwn, Stanley. Tatwan. Munich: Aktionsraum, 1970. [Images] [More images] [Compare/contrast with Craig Mod’s and Dan Rubin’s Koya Bound: Eight Days on the Kumano Kodo, 2016]

Brouwn, Stanley. Durch Komische Strahlen Gehen. Monchengladbach: Stadtisches Museum, 1970. [Image] [Image]

Brouwn, Stanley. Steps. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1971. [Image] [Compare/contrast with James Bridle’s All Roads Lead to X, 2015; compare/contrast with Yu-Wen Yu’s Boston to Taipei ,2013]

Brouwn, Stanley. Afghanistan-Zambia. Aachen: Gegenverkehr e.V., Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst, 1971. [Image & essay] [Compare/contrast with James Bridle’s Where the F**k Was I?, 2011}

Brouwn, Stanley. One Step (IX-100X). Brussels: Galerie MTL, 1971. [Essay]

Brouwn, Stanley. 1 Step – 100,000 Steps. Amsterdam: Art & Project, 1972. [Image]

Buren, Daniel. Limites Critique. Paris: Yvon Lambert, 1970. [Images] [Site]

Burgin, Victor. Work and Commentary. London: Latimer Press, 1972.  [Image] [Video] [Essay] [Exhibition 2012]

Burgy, Donald. Art Ideas for the Year 4000. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1970. [Video] [Compare/contrast with Gunnar Green’s and Bernhard Hopfengärtner’s 75000 Futures, 2014]

Burgy, Donald. Contexts Completion Ideas. Krefeld: Schuring, 1971. [Compare/contrast with Praxis, Museum of Nonvisible Art, 2011]

Burn, Ian. Xerox Book. n.p.: Self-published, 1968. [Compare/contrast with Paul Soulellis’s Apparition of a distance, however near it may be, 2013]

Xerox Book (1968)
Ian Burn

 

Burn, Ian; Ramsden, Mel. Six Negatives. New York: Society for Theoretical Art, 1969. [Images] [Video of Baldwin and Ramsden]

Burn, Ian; Ramsden, Mel. Notes on Genealogies. Vol. 1, No. 2. New York: Art-Language, 1970. [Essay by Thomas Dreher]

From the National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, Australia

 

Burn, Ian; Cutforth, Roger; Ramsden, Mel. Proceedings. Vol. 1, No. 3. New York: Art-Language, 1970. [Essay by Jo Melvin]

Burn, Ian; Ramsden, Mel. Notes on Analyses (1). Coventry: Art-Language Press, 1970. [Image]

Burn, Ian; Ramsden, Mel. Stating and Nominating. New York: Art-Language, 1970.

Burn, Ian; Ramsden, Mel. The Grammarian. New York: Art-Language, 1970.[Image]

Byars, James Lee. 100,000 Minutes, or the Big Sample of Byars, or 1/2 an Autobiography, or the First Paper of Philosophy. Antwerp: Galerie Anny de Decker, 1969. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Johanna Drucker’s All: the Books I Never Wrote or Wrote and Never Published, 1962 to 2017]

Cage, John. Silence. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Press, 1961. [Video] [Compare/contrast with Paul Soulellis’s 273 Relics for John Cage (A Likeness Is an Aid to Memory), 2011]

Cage, John. A Year from Monday. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Press, 1967.

Cage, John. Notations. New York: Something Else Press, 1969.

Cage, John. Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Things Worse) Continued, Part Three. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1967. [Video] [Compare/contrast with Robin Price’s As You Continue, 2011]

Carlini, Alessandro; Lang, Karl. Prozess Art, Situation Art. Berlin: Self-published, 1971.

Castillejo, Jose Luis. The Book of I’s. Constance: Castillejo, 1969. [Images] [Video] [Audio]

Castillejo, Jose Luis. The Book of Eighteen Letters. Madrid: Artes Graficas Luis Peres, 1972. [Images] [Audio]

Chiari, Giuseppe. Senza Titolo, 1971. Milan: Edizioni Toselli, 1972. [Images] [More images]

Collins, James. Revision and Prescription. New York: 98 Greene Street, 1971. [Image]

Corner, Philip. Popular Entertainments. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1967. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Andrew Savage’s Savage Presents Jean Michel Jarre, 2011]

Costa, Claudio. Estratti da Evoluzione-Involuzione. Genova: Edizioni Masnata, 1972. [Image]

Croce, Giancarlo. a  a’b’  b. Rome: Edizioni Gap, 1971.[Compare/contrast with Abra: The Living Book by Kate Durbin, Amaranth Borsuk and Ian Hatcher (2014)]

 

a  a’b’  b (1971)
Giancarlo Croce
19.3 x 18.5 cm, 48 pages + cover
a  a’b’  b (1971)
Giancarlo Croce
19.3 x 18.5 cm, 48 pages + cover

 

Cunningham, Merce. Changes: Notes on Choreography. New York: Something Else Press, 1968.

Cutforth, Roger. The Empire State Building. New York: Art Press, 1969. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Helen Malone’s Ten Books on Architecture, 2012, and Mandy Brannan’s 30 St Marys Axe, 2015]

Cutforth, Roger. The Visual Book. London: Lisson Gallery, 1970. [Image]

Cutforth, Roger. CN/ET/ESB: The Non-Art Project. New York: Self-published, 1971. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Helen Malone’s Ten Books on Architecture, 2012]

Darboven, Hanne. Xerox Book. Hamburg: Self-published, 1969.

Darboven, Hanne. 6 Manuskriptie 69. Dusseldorf: Michelpresse, 1969. [Image]

Darboven, Hanne. Das Jahr. n.p.: n.p., 1971. [Unable to locate]

Dibbets, Jan. Robin Redbreast’s Territory: Sculpture 1969, April — June. New York, Cologne: Siegelaub/Walther König, 1969. [Images] [More images] [Compare/contrast with Stephen Collis’ and Jordan Scott’s Decomp, 2013; with Marinus van Dijke’s Eye, 2013]

Dibbets, Jan. Perspective Correction. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Image] [Essay] [Compare/contrast with Wendy Wahl’s Laid Open, 2017]

Dibbets, Jan. 3.12.1971 t/m 16.1.1972. Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum, 1971.

Fabbris, Giorgio; Spiller, Giorgio. Assenza. Venice: Self-published.

Ferguson, Gerald. The Standard Corpus of Present Day English Language Usage Arranged by Word Length and Alphabetized within Word Length. Halifax: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1970. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Masumi Shibata’s UED (Uncertain English Dictionary), 2008]

Filliou, Robert. Ample Food for Stupid Thought. New York: Something Else Press, 1965. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Black Page catalogue from the Laurence Sterne Trust, 2009]

Filliou, Robert. Hand Show. Villingen: Saba-Studio, 1967. [Image] [Additional images]

Filliou, Robert. A Filliou Sampler. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1967. [Image]

Filliou, Robert. 14 Chansons et 1 Charade. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1968. [Images] [Additional images]

Filliou, Robert (with Beuys, Brecht, Cage, Iannone, Kaprow, Marcelle, Patterson and Rot). Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts. Cologne: Walther König, 1970. [Images] [Video]

Fisher, Joel. Double Camouflage. Mansfield, OH: Mansfield Fine Arts Center, 1970. [Image] [Additional images]

Flynt, Henry. Down with Art. New York: Fluxpress, 1968. [Image] [Additional images] [Compare/contrast with Doug Beube’s Breaking the Codex, 2011]

Fulton, Hamish. The Sweet Grass Hills of Montana as seen from the Milk River of Alberta. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1971. [Image] [Additional images] [Compare/contrast with Helen Douglas’s The Pond at Deuchar, 2013]

Fulton, Hamish. Hollow Lane. London: Situation Publications, 1972. [Images] [Additional images]  [Video] [Compare/contrast with Craig Mod’s and Dan Rubin’s Koya Bound: Eight Days on the Kumano Kodo, 2016]

Gilbert & George. A Message from the Sculptors Gilbert & George. London: Art for All, 1970. [Image] [Additional images] [Video]

Gilbert & George. To Be with Art is All We Ask. London: Art for All, 1970. [Image] [Additional images] [Video]

Gilbert & George. The Pencil on Paper Descriptive Works. London: Art for All, 1970. [Additional images]

Gilbert & George. A Day in the Life of Gilbert & George. London: Art for All, 1971. [Image] [Additional images]

Gilbert & George. Oh, The Grand Old Duke of York. Lucerne: Kunstmuseum Luzern, 1972. [Image] [Additional images]

Gilbert & George. Side by Side. Cologne: Walther König, 1972. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Abra: The Living Book by Kate Durbin, Amaranth Borsuk and Ian Hatcher (2014)]

Graham, Dan. End Moments. New York: Self-published, 1969. [Image]

Graham, Dan. Two Parallel Essays. New York: Multiple, Inc., 1970. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Tom Abba’s These Pages Fall Like Ash, 2013.

Graham, Dan. Dan Graham. London/Cologne: Lisson Gallery/Walther König, 1972.

Graham, Rodney. Works 1963-1969. Cologne/New York: Walther König, 1970.

Greco, Sandro. Saper Sorridere. n.p.: Self-published, 1971. [Article]

Gregory, Kathe; Landis, Marilyn; Lewis, Russell; Crane, David; Kahn, Scott. Stolen. New York: Colorcraft Lithographers/Dwan Gallery, 1970. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Andrew Savage’s Stolen White Goods, 2006, and then Cristina Garrido’s intervention White Goods, 2011]

Hamilton, Richard. Polaroid Portraits, Volume One. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1972. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Anouk Kruithof’s The Daily Exhaustion, 2010]

Harvey, Michael. White Papers. New York: Self-published, 1971. [Images] [Additional images]

Hemsworth, Gerard. South West Coast of England. Amsterdam, London: X-One/Nigel Greenwood, 1970.

Hidalgo, Juan. Viaje a Argel. Madrid: Zaj, 1967. [Images] [More images]

Higgins, Dick. What are Legends: A Clarification. Calais, ME: Bern Porter, 1960. [Images]

Higgins, Dick. Jefferson’s Birthday / Postface. New York: Something Else Press, 1964. [Images]

Higgins, Dick. A Book about Love & War & Death, Canto One. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1965. [Images] [Video]

Higgins, Dick. Foew and ombwhnw : a grammar of the mind and a phenomenology of love and a science of the arts as seen by a stalker of the wild mushroom. New York: Something Else Press, 1969. [Images] [Video]

Huebler, Douglas. Durata Duration. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1970. [Images] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Andrew Eason’s Clock Watching, 2006]

Huebler, Douglas. Location Piece #2. New York: Multiple, Inc., 1970. [Images] [More images] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Barbara Tetenbaum’s Mining My Ántonia; Excerpts, Drawings, and a Map, 2012]

Hurrell, Harold. Fluidic DeviceCoventry: Art-Language, 1968. [Image]

Johnson, Ray. The Paper Snake. New York: Something Else Press, 1965. [Video of reprint edition]

Kaltenbach, Stephen. [Artforum Advertisements]. New York: Artforum, Issues dated November 1968 through December 1969. [Image] [Artslant interview]

Kaprow, Allan. Assemblage, Environments & Happenings. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1965. [Images] [Video]

Kaprow, Allan. Pose: Carrying Chairs through the City, Sitting Down Here and There, Photographed, Pix Left on Spot, Going On, March 22 1969-1970. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

Knowles, Alison. By Alison Knowles. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1965. [Images]

Kosuth, Joseph. Four Titled Abstracts [within S.M.S. Portfolio no. 3]. New York: Letter Edged in Black, Inc., 1968]. [Images] [More images]

Kosuth, Joseph. Function. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1970. [Images] [Additional images]

Kosuth, Joseph. Notebook on Water. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images] [Additional images]

Kosuth, Joseph. The Sixth Investigation 1969, Proposition 14. Cologne: Gerd de Vries, 1971. [Image] [Video]

Kosuth, Joseph. The Sixth Investigation 1969, Proposition 2. Buenos Aires/Cologne: CAYC/Paul Maenz, 1971. [Video]

Lamelas, David. Publication. London: Nigel Greenwood, 1970. [Images] [Video]

Latham, John. Least Event/One-Second Drawings/Blind Work/24-Second Painting. London: Lisson Gallery, 1971. [Image] [Video] [Cover of the work indicates a publication date of 1970]

Law, Bob. 16 Drawings. London: Lisson Gallery, 1971. [Images] [Audio]

LeWitt, Sol. 49 Three Part Variations Using Three Different Kinds of Cubes, 1967-1968. Zurich: Editions Bischofberger, 1969. [Images] [Video]

LeWitt, Sol. Four Basic Kinds of Straight Lines. London: Studio International, 1969. [Images][Video] [Film]

LeWitt, Sol. Schematic Drawings for Muybridge II, 1964. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images] [Video, Veronica Roberts] [Video, Charles Haxthausen]

LeWitt, Sol. Four Basic Colours and their Combinations. London: Lisson Gallery, 1971. [Images]

Lole, Kevin; Smith, Paul. Handbook on Models. Coventry: Self-published, 1972. [Unable to locate a work of this title in WorldCat, but one with the title The Relativism of Emotion Handbook to the Model and same date of publication is described in Paul Robertson‘s “A Collection of Rare Art+ Language Books and Internal Documents – Many Unknown in Literature”, Gorebridge, Midlothian: Unoriginal Sins/Heart Fine Art, n.d.

30 x 21cm, 50pp (printed recto only) plus printed card covers. Xerox inner pages as issued. The first and only edition of this theoretical work based on a physical model (electro-shock, photo beams and electronic buzzers) acting as metaphor for analogue, theoretical and representative models. Cover is very minority marked on the front and back cover has a faint diagonal crease else VG++. From the archive of David Rushton who believes only 10 or fewer of this book was published.

 

Long, Richard. Rain Dance. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

Long, Richard. From Along a Riverbank. Amsterdam: Art & Project, 1971. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Helen Douglas’s Venetian Brocade, 2010]

Long, Richard. Two Sheepdogs Cross In and Out of the Passing Shadows the Clouds Drift Over the Hill with a Storm. London: Lisson Gallery, 1971. [Images]

Maloney, Martin. Integuments. Brattleboro, VT: Press Work, 1969. [Image] [Video] [Additional outtakes]

Maloney, Martin. Fractionals. Brattleboro, VT: Press Work, 1970.

Maloney, Martin. Intervention (Five Days and Five Nights at the Galerie MTL). Brussels: Galerie MTL, 1970. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Sam Winston’s Darkness Visible, 2017]

Double-page spread from
Intervention (Five Days and Five Nights at the Galerie MTL), Martin Maloney
Brussels: Galerie MTL, 1970

 

Manzoni, Piero. The Life and Works. Glucksburg-Hamburg-Paris: Peterson Press, 1963. [Image] [Artspace essay] [Compare/contrast with Marc Straus’s White Heat exhibition, 2017]

Marchetti, Walter. Arpocrate Seduto sul Loto. Madrid: Zaj, 1968. [Images] [More images]

McLean, Bruce. King for a Day. London: Situation Publications, 1972. [Images]

Merz, Mario. Fibonacci 1202 Merz 1970. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1970. [Images] [Additional images] [Compare/contrast with Rutherford Witthus’ Anything is a Mirror, 2007, and Susan Happersett’s Box of Chaos, 2014]

Merz, Mario. Una somma reale e una somma di gente. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1972.

Morris, Robert. Continuous Project Altered Daily. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images] [Additional images]

Nauman, Bruce. Burning Small Fires.  San Francisco.: Self-published, 1968. [Images]

Display of Ed Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk, 1964, at Pliure: La Part du Feu, 2 February – 12 April 2015, Paris. Photo by Robert Bolick. Reflected in the lower left hand corner is the display of Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires; in the upper right corner, the film clip of Truffaut’s 1966 Fahrenheit 451; and in the upper left, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva’s La bibliotheque en feu, 1974.

 

Nauman, Bruce. Clea Rsky. n.p.: Self-published, 1969. [Images] [Additional images] [Compare/contrast with Anouk Kruithof’s Automagic, 2016]

Nauman, Bruce. Laair. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

N.E. Thing Company. A Portfolio of Piles. Vancouver: Self-published, 1968. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Alicia Martín’s Biografias, 2002 ongoing]

N.E. Thing Company. Trans VSI Connection NSCAD-NETCO. Halifax: Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, 1969. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Dennis Ashbaugh’s and William Gibson’s AGRIPPA: A Book of the Dead, 1992]

Oldenburg, Claes. Injun & Other Histories. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1966. [Image]

Oldenburg, Claes. Store Days. New York: Something Else Press, 1968. [Images]

Oldenburg, Claes. Notes in Hand. London: Petersburg Press, 1971. [Images]

Ono, Yōko. Grapefruit. Tokyo, New York: Wunternaum, 1964. [Images]

©Yoko Ono

Oppenheim, Dennis. Flower Arrangement for Bruce Nauman. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970.  [Images] [More images]

Paolini, Giulio. Cio che non ha limiti e che per sua stessa natura non ammette limiti di sorta. Turin: Self-published, 1968. [Image] [Another image] [More images]

Paolozzi, Eduardo. Metafisikal Translations. London: Kelpra Studios, 1962. [Images] [More images] [Compare/contrast with Francisco Prieto’s London 1827, 2001-13]

Paolozzi, Eduardo. ABBA ZABA. London: Hansjorg Mayer, 1970. [Image] [Images] [More images]

Penone, Giuseppe. Svolgere la Propria Pelle. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1971. [Image] [More images]

Phillips, Tom. A Humument. London: Tetrad Press, 1970. [Image] [More images] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes, 2010]

Phillips, Tom. Trailer. Dusseldorf: Hanjorg Mayer, 1971. [Image]

Pilkington, Philip; Rushton, David; Lole, Kevin; Smith, Paul. Concerning the Paradigm of Art. Zurich: Editions Bischofberger, 1971. [Last author’s name corrected from “Paul” to “Peter”] [From Paul Robertson, “A Collection of Rare Art+ Language Books and Internal Documents – Many Unknown in Literature”, Gorebridge, Midlothian: Unoriginal Sins/Heart Fine Art, n.d.

“30 x 21cm, 16pp (recto only). White card covers – with offset title. A text published by Bischofberger from a theoretical document written by Kevin Lole, Philip Pilkington, David Rushton and Peter Smith (formerly Analytical Art and by this time fully regarded as members of Art & Language) which applied Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shift to art (the original theory by Kuhn being a view that revolutions in scientific thought only occurred when sufficient contrary evidence to the prevailing orthodoxy had mounted up and the original hypothesis could no longer explain the physical evidence emerging from empirical studies). It is worth noting that at this time Bischofberger bought a great deal of Art + Language material from the group and published other documents by them including some of the group’s rarest publications – storing many of the more three-dimensional works for later resale. Bischofberger did not print the books himself – rather Art and Language arranged design and publication in Coventry (for free using the University’s resources) and David Rushton drove the books over in a camper van to Switzerland (breaking down just on the edge of the city due to running out of petrol and having little money left, Rushton coasted the last mile down hill on an empty tank).

The limitations of these series of books are usually placed at c. 200 but Rushton remembers taking far fewer than that with him and this Analytical Art book was in fact only produced in 50 copies taken to Zurich plus a few retained by the artists in the UK.

That said this is one of ONLY 5 copies which were numbered in roman numerals (this one being III/V) and signed by ALL of the four writers in pencil on the first title page.”]

Pilkington, Philip; Rushton, David. Sample from a Topological Notebook. Coventry: Self-published, 1972. [Video] [From Paul Robertson, “A Collection of Rare Art+ Language Books and Internal Documents – Many Unknown in Literature”, Gorebridge, Midlothian: Unoriginal Sins/Heart Fine Art, n.d.

“30 x 21cm, 28pp carbon copy pages and printed cover. This was one of ONLY four copies made and published by the group – two copies being signed by David Rushton and Peter [sic] Pilkington and created from original typed sheets and two copies remaining unsigned and created (as here) using the carbon copies from the originals. These latter two examples were regarded by the group as artist’s proofs of the book. This is the only copy of this book available for sale anywhere as from the original four prices: one is in Paul Maenz’s archive and another two copies are in the hands of private collectors (who purchased them from ourselves). This copy is signed by David Rushton and Philip Pilkington and has been stamped on the inside front cover with the official Art & Language Stamp and also designated in blue ink “Second Copy”. Fine estate and clearly rare.”]

Pistoletto, Michelangelo. Le Ultime Parole Famose. Turin: Tipolito Piano, 1967. [Images] [Additional images]

Pistoletto, Michelangelo. L’uomo nero: Il lato insopportabile. Salerno: Rumma Editore, 1969. [Included in this anthology; searchable here] [Image] [Cover image] [Video] [Compare/contrast with Abigail Thomas’s Micro-Pages, 2010]

Prini, Emilio. Magnete. [included within Celant’s Arte Povera published by Praeger , 1969.] [Unable to verify this; an image of the work appears in Emanuela Nobile Mino’s article “Emilio Prini: Non creo, se è possibile”, Flash Art 50, 298 Dicembre 2011 – Gennaio 2012.]

Magnet / Photo Series / Group 2000 / September 1968 / (4 Phase) / Continuous Photographic Photographs Continuously Photographs Up to 20,000 Shots / Run Time work / 10 years / annual series of 20,000 elements / technique / black and white photography / leafs / 3 M / K 203 3 / each 30 x 40 / constant time setting diaphragm / fixed tilt stand / 1969 / camera used maintains the original value and adds to the artistic market.

 

Ramsden, Mel. The Black Book. [Unable to find a work under this title in WorldCat]

Ramsden, Mel. Abstract Relations. New York: Art-Language, 1968. Edition of 5. [Unable to find a work under this title in WorldCat; the 5 images on the left in this photograph from the Philippe Méaille private collection at MACBA come closest.]

‘ART & LANGUAGE Incomplet’ exhibition views, 2014. Photo: EOS-AF, Estudi Orpinell & Sánchez — Artesania Fotogràfica
100% Abstract (1968) Art & Language

 

Roehr, Peter. Ziffern: 10 Typomontagen 1965. Cologne: Gerd de Vries, 1970.

Ty-100 (1965)
Peter Roehr
Source: Artnet 29 October 2017

 

Rot, Dieter. BOK 2a. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1960. [Images and essay] [Video, survey of Rot’s artist’s books]

Rot, Dieter. BOK 2b. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961. [Links in author’s name lead to image]

Rot, Dieter. BOK 3a. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. BOK 3b. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. BOK 3c. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. BOK 3d. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961. [Video link]

Rot, Dieter. BOK 4a. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. BOK 5. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. Dagblegt Bull No. 8. La Louvriere: A. Balthazar & P. Bury, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. Daily Mirror Book. Reykjavik: forlag ed, 1961. [Compare/contrast with Vienna Romanée’s Data Sewing Project,  2011 to present]

Rot, Dieter. Mundunculum. Cologne: Dumont Schauberg, 1961.

Rot, Dieter. Book AC 1958-1964. New Haven: Ives-Sillman, 1964.

Rot, Dieter. Quadrat-blatt. Hilversum: Steendrukkerij de Jong, 1965.

Rot, Dieter. The Copley Book. Chicago: Bill and Norma Copley Foundation, 1965.

Rot, Dieter. Kölner Divisionen. Cologne: Galerie der Spiegel, 1965.

Rot, Dieter. Quick. Reykjavik: Self-published, 1965.

Rot, Dieter. Poetrie No. 1. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1966.

Rot, Dieter. Scheisse: Neue Gedichte von Dieter Rot. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1966.

Rot, Dieter. Die Blaue Flut. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. A Look into the Blue Tide, Part Two. New York: Great Bear Pamphlets, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. Siebdruckbilder (Screenprint Pictures 1-4). Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. Mundunculum (enlarged and corrected). Cologne: Dumont Schauberg, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. Poetrie 2 (301 kleine Wolken in Memoriam big J und big G : ein fingierter Bericht aus der inneren Fremde)Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. 80 Wolken, 1965-67. Stuttgart: E. Walther, 1967.

Rot, Dieter. Poeting 3/4 (Poeterei: Doppelnummer …). Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1968.

Rot, Dieter. Poemetrie. Cologne: Divers Press, 1968. [Image] [Compare/contrast with Robert Kalka’s Medium, 1995]

Poemetrie (no. 4 of the review Poeterei) (1968)
19 transparent plastic bags; letterpress, printed on both sides, filled with vanilla pudding and urine; plastic cover, back cover with signed drawing a.p. (ed. of 30 + 3 a.p.)
© Dieter Roth

 

Rot, Dieter; Williams, Emmett. Still More Shit — A Supplement. New York: Something Else Press, 1968. [Still more images]

Rot, Dieter. Die Kakausener Gemeine. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1968. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. Die Gesamte Scheisse/The Complete Shit. Berlin: Rainer Verlag, 1968. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. 246 Little Clouds. New York: Something Else Press, 1968. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. Little Tentative Recipe. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1969. [Images]

Little Tentative Recipe (1969)
Approx 800 rotaprints in colour.
8.8 x 8.8 x 8.8 cm. Adhesive binding wooden box. 100 unique pieces numbered.
© Dieter Roth

 

Rot, Dieter. Poetrie 5 to 1st. London: Hansjorg Mayer, 1969. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. Icelandic Leather. Reykjavik: Self-published, 1970. [Unable to locate by this title; may be referring to Volume 5, Bok 3 of the Collected Works]

Rot, Dieter. Snow. Stuttgart, Reykjavik, London: Wasserpresse Mayer, 1970. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. Postkartenblock (Postcard Pad). Cologne, London, Hellnar: Hansjorg Mayer, 1971. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Frances Kiernan’s All the Prints I Have Made, 2010]

Rot, Dieter. 2 Problems of Our Time: An Essay. Reykjavik: Verlag Reykjavik, 1971.

Rot, Dieter. Franz Eggenschwiler: The Young Man, the Man, His Time, His Work (until today 2.5.71), An Essay. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1971. [Images]

Rot, Dieter. Ideogramme. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1971.

Rot, Dieter. Smaller Works Part 1. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1971. [Volume 18 of Gesammelte Werke]

Rot, Dieter. Smaller Works Part 2. Stuttgart: Hansjorg Mayer, 1971. [Volume 19 of Gesammelte Werke]

Rot, Dieter. Who Was Mozart. Reykjavik: Verlag Reykjavik, 1971.

Rot, Dieter. Who’s the One Who Doesn’t Know Who Mozart Was? Reykjavik: Verlag Reykjavik, 1971.

Rot, Dieter. A Question? Reykjavik: Verlag Reykjavik, 1971.

Ruppersberg, Allen. 23 Pieces. Los Angeles: Sunday Quality, 1969. [Images]

Ruppersberg, Allen. 24 Pieces. Los Angeles: Sunday Quality, 1970. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Los Angeles: Self-published, 1963. [Images] [Interview about the book] [Compare/contrast with Sowon Kwon’s Whiteowned Gasoline Stations, 2007]

Ruscha, Ed. Various Small Fires. Los Angeles: Self-published, 1964. [Images]

Display of Ed Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk, 1964, at Pliure: La Part du Feu, 2 February – 12 April 2015, Paris. Photo by Robert Bolick. Reflected in the lower left hand corner is the display of Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires; in the upper right corner, the film clip of Truffaut’s 1966 Fahrenheit 451; and in the upper left, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva’s La bibliotheque en feu, 1974.

 

Ruscha, Ed. Every Building on the Sunset Strip. Los Angeles: Self-published, 1966. [Images] [Animation] [Compare/contrast with Every Item in the Artists’ Book Collection of the Banff Centre Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives, 2013 to the present, and James Bridle’s installation Every CCTV (CC), 2017, an extension of The Nor, 2014]

Ruscha, Ed. Thirtyfour Parking Lots. Los Angeles: Self-published, 1967. [Images] [Compare/contrast with James Bridle’s Drone Shadow Handbook, 2013]

Ruscha, Ed. Nine Swimming Pools (and a Broken Glass). Los Angeles: Self-Published, 1968.

Ruscha, Ed. Business Cards. Los Angeles: Heavy Industry Publications, 1968. [Images]

Ruscha, EdStains. Los Angeles: Heavy Industry Publications, 1969. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Ellie Ga’s Classification of a Spit Stain, 2009]

Ruscha, Ed. Crackers. Los Angeles: Heavy Industry Publications, 1969. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. Real Estate Opportunities. Los Angeles: Self-published, 1970. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. Babycakes with Weights. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. A Few Palm Trees. Los Angeles: Heavy Industry Publications, 1971. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. Records. Los Angeles: Heavy Industry Publications, 1971. [Images]

Ruscha, Ed. Dutch Details. Deventer: Octopus Foundation, 1971. [Images] [Video, more images and essay]

Sonnier, Keith. Object Situation Object. Cologne, New York: Walther König, 1970. [Images] [Official website] [Video]

Spoerri, DanielTopographie Anecdotée du Hasard. Paris: Galerie Lawrence, 1962. [Images]

Spoerri, Daniel. An Anecdoted Topography of Chance. New York: Something Else Press, 1966. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Rutherford Witthus’ Anything is a Mirror, 2007]

Spoerri, Daniel. The Mythological Travels.... New York: Something Else Press, 1970. [Images]

Staeck, Klaus. Pornographie. Giessen: Anabas Verlag, 1971. [Images] [Official website]

Stezaker, John. Works, 1969 – 1971. London: Nigel Greenwood, 1972. [Compare/contrast with Doug Beube’s Speechless Series, 2015, Noriko Ambe’s Artist Books Project, 2009-13, and Scott Hazard’s Photo Constructs, 2011]

Stezaker, John. “0(A-F)” and Five Inherent Predicables. London: Nigel Greenwood, 1972.

Stezaker, John. “A” and Six Predicable Concepts. London: Nigel Greenwood, 1972.

Tacha, Athena. Heredity Study I, 1970-71. Oberlin, OH: Self-published, 1971. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Jan Fairbairn-Edwards’ Family Geology, 2015]

Tacha, Athena. Heredity Study II, 1970-71. Oberlin, OH: Self-published, 1971. [Images]

Tacha, AthenaSpatial Disorientation Staircases and Ramps 1971-72. Oberlin, OH: Self-published, 1972. [Image]

Titus-Carmel, Gerard. Joaquin’s Love Affair. Paris: Ericard Editeur, 1971. [Images]

Tuttle, Richard. 2 Books 1969. New York: Betty Parsons Gallery, 1969. [Images]

Van Elk, Ger. The Well-Shaven Cactus/Paul Klee um den Fisch, 1926/The Co-Founder of the Word OK/The Discovery of Sardines/The Symmetry of Diplomacy. Amsterdam: Art & Project, 1972. [Images] [More images ][Video]

Vautier, Ben. Le Livre Total: 13 propositions pour une nouvelle perception et conscience de l’objet livre. Nice: Self-published, 1963. [Image]

Vautier, Ben. Écrit pour la gloire à force de tourner en rond et d’être jaloux. Nice: Self-published, 1970. [Images]

Venet, Bernar. Astrophysics [within S.M.S. Portfolio no. 6]. New York: Letter Edged in Black Press, 1968. [Images]

Venet, Bernar. Exploited Subjects: Stimulated Raman Effect. New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970. [Images]

Walther, Franz Erhard. Objekte, Benutzen. Cologne: Walther König, 1968. [Images]

Warhol, Andy. A. New York: Grove Press, 1968. [Images] [Compare/contrast with Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books, 2013]

Warhol, Andy. Andy Warhol. Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1968. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Statements. New York: Siegelaub, 1968. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Traces. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1970. [Actual title is Tracce Traces.] [Images] [Compare/contrast Michael Winkler’s Word Art/Art Words, 1985]]

Weiner, Lawrence. 10 Works. Paris: Yvon Lambert, 1971. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. 10 Obras. Buenos Aires: CAYC, 1971. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Causality Affected and/or Effected. New York: Leo Castelli, 1971. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Flowed. Halifax: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1971. [Images] [More images] [Compare/contrast with Demosthenes Agrafiotis’ The Chinese Notebook, 2015.

Weiner, Lawrence. Misschien door Verwijddering [Perhaps when removed]. Amsterdam: Art & Project, 1971. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Quizas Cuando Removido [Perhaps when removed]. Buenos Aires: CAYC, 1971. [Edition of the work pirated and edited with the permission of Art & Project] [Image]

Weiner, Lawrence. Having Been Done At. Turin: Sperone Editore, 1972. [Images]

Weiner, Lawrence. Green as well as Blue as well as Red. London: Jack Wendler, 1972. [Full title is And/Or: Green as well as blue as well as red.] [Images]

Young, La Monte. An Anthology of Chance Operations. New York: La Monte Young and Jackson MacLow, 1963. [Contributors: Brecht, George; Cage, John; De Maria, Walter; Flynt, Henry; Higgins, Dick; Johnson, Ray; MacLow, Jackson; Morris, Robert; Ono, Yoko; Paik, Nam June; Rot, Dieter; Williams, Emmett; Young, La Monte; et al.] [Images] [Young soundtracks and video]

Young, La Monte; Zazeela, Marian. Selected Writing. Munich: Friedrich Publishers, 1969. [Images]

βΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβσβΟβς

Bookmarking Book Art – Louisa Boyd

Flare
2013
Magnani handmade white wove paper
12cm x 12cm x 8cm
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

Through abstraction and symbol, Louisa Boyd‘s art focuses on sense of place and our intrinsic connection to nature. The titles of three of her artist’s book series – Infinity, Landscape, and Mapping – and those of the book art in them – Aether (2013), A Walk (2001), and Cartography I (2014)  – reflect that focus. How she manages abstract imagery and symbol across her range of material and techniques – paper (including hand-marbled paper), book structure, printmaking (block, screen, letterpress), watercolor, metalwork, leatherwork – adds to that unifying focus through a rightness of choice but also introduces a breadth of originality and variety.

In Aether, the crayon work, cutting and metalwork are applied with a three-dimensional sense wedded to an obvious understanding of the possibilities of the page and double-page spread. The stop-motion animation video tour of Aether (click on the image below) makes you wonder if Boyd conceived the work as a flipbook in the first place. There is no wondering, however, about the place of human existence in relation to the aether. In the video, look at the lower righthand fore-edge of the book.

Aether
2013
Leather handbound artist’s book with box. Cover in leather and paper onlay. Edge coloring.
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist
For a video tour of Aether, click on the image.

A Walk illustrates Boyd’s skill with freestanding three-dimensional sculpture, a skill that has grown in The Flight Series (more later on two of its works from 2009) and The Paper Manipulation Series, from which the work Flare above comes.

A Walk 
2001
Handbound artists book, torn and cut with each page individually painted to depict the different views of a walk through the landscape. Watercolour on paper.
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist
For a video tour of A Walk, click on the image. (Caveat: The title of the work in the video varies from that here, which is taken from Boyd’s website.)

Her use of abstract markings and the Turkish map folding technique in Cartography I demonstrates again her careful marriage of abstraction, symbol and technique.

Cartography I
2014
Turkish map-fold book with etched pages and collagraph end papers. Somerset paper. Blind tooled leather cover.
Edition of 3
Dimensions open: H 5” x W 10”x D 4”
Dimensions closed: diameter 5”, depth 1”
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

The etching printed on each of the three internal folded pages is an abstract that nevertheless evokes mapping, which the form and fold of the pages reinforces. Each Turkish fold page can lay flat to be viewed individually, or as pictured above and below, the book may be viewed as a sculpture.

Cartography I from above
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

The video tours (links embedded the images of Aether and A Walk above) represent Boyd’s search for what she calls “a bridge between traditional and contemporary media”. So far, that exploration reflects the artist’s rootedness in the book arts and traditional skills and processes of drawing, printing and painting. It is intriguing to think what effect a bit of influence from Helen Douglas or Amaranth Borsuk might have on Boyd’s bridge. The use of stop-action video for Aether hints at an instinct for what Douglas calls “visual narrative”.

A professed recurrent theme in Boyd’s book art is “restriction and freedom”. Although it arises from periods of city dwelling and lack of access to the countryside, imposed by the UK’s 2001 “foot and mouth” epidemic, it manifests itself in the more “traditional” spur of constraint of form and structure that goads an artist’s imagination. Flock (2009) and A Walk bear close resemblance, but note the difference in invention whereby the former plays with the book form by placing the bird imagery at the edges, spirals the paper tearing upwards and gradates the watercolor from dark to light (like a flock dispersing) and the latter deals with the “restricted” walk by blending the watercolor with tearing and tunneling.

Flock
2009
Artist’s book with watercolour
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

Take Flight (2009) frees its bird imagery even more fully from the structure of the book and occupies space as a fully three-dimensional work.

Take Flight
2009
Artist’s book with watercolour
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist
Detail
Take Flight
2009
Artist’s book with watercolour
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

 

Multifaceted
2014
edition of 4
Dimensions closed 4” x 2” x 1/2” (10cm x 5cm x 1cm) open 4” x 21 1/2” (9cm x 51cm)
Leather, oil-based ink, Somerset and Magnani paper
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

Although Multifaceted returns to the theme of different views that was the intent in A Walk, it tilts the theme more toward the abstract side of Boyd’s work. In this, Multifaceted is more akin to the works in The Paper Manipulation Series: Flare (2013), Whorl (2013), and Pleat (2013). It almost purely plays with the concept of differing perspectives. Again, techniques and form express concept with a simple rightness. This double-sided leporello is designed to be viewed from four different angles. The display of photos here cannot offer the intended perspective (pun intended): the viewer needs to circle the piece to view its facets. That word “facet” is tooled on the interior pages four times, the clue as to how the book should be read.

Multifaceted I from above
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist
Multifaceted II collage view
© Louisa Boyd, reproduced with permission of the artist

The abstract imagery evoking landscape or skyscape – whether juxtaposed vertically or horizontally – plays with viewpoint. Even the print technique on the interior pages plays with viewpoint: they are prints of an etching inked up both in relief and intaglio.  Breaking free of the ultimate restriction of the book, the pages are not attached to the cover, allowing the piece to be read in four different directions. These features of the work and the seeming absence of that human figure from Aether throw it back on the viewer’s necessary engagement to establish fully the human connection: by engaging with Multifaceted – “reading” it –  the viewer enacts the human place in the aether around the work.

Since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2001 and winning the Paperchase Future of Design Award (2001) and receiving a high commendation from the judges of the New Designer of the Year (2001), Boyd has exhibited in 46 venues. Her 47th is the most significant so far: inclusion in the John Ruskin Prize Shortlist Exhibition at Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, UK (21 June – 8 October, 2017). If this book artist manages to continue her sure-handed forging of concept, material and method, the Ruskin Prize Shortlist Exhibition will not be her last significant exhibition.

Further reading about Louisa Boyd and her work:

‘The 2017 exhibition has a theme of the “Artist as Polymath” and the jury have selected a shortlist of artists and makers whose works cross boundaries, take a multidisciplinary approach and bring together varying techniques and materials. As an artist who has been making artist’s books since my final year at university in 2000, I have found that such an approach to work has been essential to bring together concept and visual aesthetics.’

 

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