Books On Books Collection – Sibyl Rubottom & Jim Machacek

Spice Market: An Alphabetical Melange of Spices (2004)

Spice Market: An Alphabetical Melange of Spices (2004)
Sibyl Rubottom & Jim Machacek
Accordion fold book in drawstring bag with tag. 4.5 x 5″, 24 panels. Edition of 40, of which this is #34. panels. Acquired from Vamp & Tramp, 15 August 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

The number of abecedaries from Sibyl Rubottom and Jim Machacek abounds. It is hard to choose among them. For this collection, Spice Market just nudges ahead of The Cosmic Sidereal Galactic Abecedarium of the Universe (& Other Tangential Star Ephemera)(2001), The Alphabet of Time (2002), O is for Opera (2006) and The ABC of Yiddish (2007).

The BFK tan pages, some of which had 14 runs through the press, were hand tinted with color and infused with curry, cinnamon, and paprika. Its fonts include Bernhard Modern & Tango and Albertus.

The double-sided accordion incorporates flaps that allude to gathering and selling.

The technique of collage and the variation of the botanical images are perfect for the theme of melange.

Likewise, the colors shifting across the panels.

The effect of the tinting is just as striking — perhaps more so — on the reverse panels.

Below, as displayed in the Bodleian exhibition “Sensational Books”, June-November 2022.

Further Reading and Viewing

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection. 31 March 2020.

Athenaeum Music and Arts. 25 May 2021. “What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine“. Video.

Gast, Michael. “The Kincade Chronicles: An Exhibit by Jim Machacek“. Video.

Rubottom, Sibyl. 31 December 2020. “Athenaeum Art Center – Print Studio“. Video.

Books On Books Collection – Estelle J.

STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ: Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (ND)

STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ: Un coup de dés n’abolira le hasard (ND)
Estelle J.
Self-covering accordion format with three tipped-in pages. H245 x 185 mm closed, 2100 mm open. Twenty-four panels and flap-insert for closing. Edition of 6 variations, of which this #6. Acquired from Studio Montespecchio, 22 February 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Little information has emerged about this artist or her work that arrived in a shipment from a dealer based in Italy. He seemed to recall that she was young and at a table of her own at an exhibition in … was it Barcelona or Madrid? There is only the artist’s signature at the end of the work and an indication that it is the sixth of six copies. The dealer remembers that each of the six varied due to their handmade nature.

With its three tipped-in pages inside a double-sided accordion structure, with their mix of laser-cut and printed text, with the bright collage of abstract and figurative images (screen printed?), the work speaks for itself. But where in the collection does this work belong? First and foremost, it belongs among the many works of homage to Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard such as those by Christopher Brennan or Benjamin Lord.

The cover gives the poem’s title in French, but the abridged text is in English, some of it laser-cut and some printed, all on tipped-in pages. The unhappy translation comes from the Oxford University Press’ World Classics. The cuts place it among the “works of homage by redaction”, for example, those by Jérémie Bennequin or Michel Lorand. As the burnt edges suggest, it comes chronologically after the adoption of laser cutting in artists’ books, which has growing representation in the collection, for example, in works by Jaz Graf or Islam Aly. In its combination of letter and geometric shapes, the work falls between Scott McCarney and Aaron Cohick.

A collage of abstract and figurative images, letters and numbers rolls across both sides of the accordion, structurally recollecting the works of Helen Douglas or Sibyl Rubottom and Jim Machacek.

The paper is a heavy card, susceptible to fine cuts and sturdy enough to hold them.Colors of black, yellow, orange, silver and red cover the inner side, while those on the outer side adhere to an orange-gold-yellow palette. Its bright colors place it among the bursts of color from Shirley Sharoff and Andrew Morrison.

Perhaps the mystery artist will stumble across this entry, have a view on where it belongs and share some of its background, technique, process and materials — and what the other five versions look like.