donderdag 20 november 2014

Artist Julie C. Fortier has taking Les Levine’s invitation literally House Quadrat-Print Graphic Design Company Photography


HOUSE

Quadrat-Print / Quadrat-Blatt / Feuilles-Cadrat / Kwadraat Blad

Les Levine

Les Levine: HOUSE [Quadrat-Print / Quadrat-Blatt / Feuilles-Cadrat / Kwadraat Blad]. Hilversum: Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co, 1971. First edition [limited to 1,000 copies]. Printed brown chipboard wrappers. Unpaginated. 26 black and white photographs. Publishers errata sheet laid in.   Designed by Pieter Brattinga. 

9.75 x 9.5 square octavo with 26 black and white photographs by Les Levine. “Each photograph in this book is a working plan for a sculpture or monument. The person who acquires this book should attempt to erect one of the monuments according to the scale of the space that he finds available. He may do this alone or in conjunction with a group. When he has finished his work on the monument or is tired of it, he should send photographs to Les Levine, 181 Mott Street, NYC, 10012 USA.”

"The main issue for me is the mind. The main aspect is what is going on in the mind when one is experiencing a work of art. It could be highly visual or highly conceptual, but it doesn't in the long run make any difference. I'm interested in how this is contributing to thinking." — Les Levine

Les Levine (b. 1935)   is a conceptual artist and one of the originators of media art. Early on, he recognized the potential of television as an art medium and a means of mass dissemination. He was one of the first artists to use videotape. Levine regards himself as a "media sculptor" and has used outdoor advertising, posters, television, radio, and telephone conversations in his work. He studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London and exhibited and lived in Canada during the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1973 he was an artist-in-residence at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He has been based in New York City since 1964.

At the beginning of his career, Levine introduced the idea of disposable art, earning the name "Plastic man." In 1966 he exhibited thousands of vacuum-formed plastic reliefs in various colours, selling them for between $3 and $6 each. This was considered a populist response to art world conceptions of art as unique and precious objects. Wiretap (1970), in the National Gallery of Canada collection, consists of 12 speakers on the wall, each playing a loop of 12 hours of recorded telephone conversations that Levine made on his home phone. The audience listens to the taped document of actual inquiries and conversations about the production of artwork over a period of one year. For its time, Wiretap was radical in proposing that the activity surrounding the process of making a work of art is as valid and interesting as the end product.

Like others of his generation, Levine addresses in his artwork issues of value and consumption in North American society. In the early 1980s, his first billboard campaigns in Los Angeles and Minneapolis followed on the heels of a successful mass media project that featured 4000 images along the NYC subway system. Levine has made over 200 videos and has had over 100 solo exhibitions. [national Gallery of Canada]

"The Quadrat-Prints are a series of experiments in printing ranging over the fields of graphic design, the plastic arts, literature, architecture and music. They are edited by Pieter Brattinga and are not for sale."

"The Quadrat-Prints appear at irregular intervals. They are published only after the most stringent requirements of intellectual and technical production have been met."

Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co. published 34 Quadrat-Prints between 1955 and 1974, with Brattinga serving as general editor and individual designers given free reign with their chosen subjects in the visual arts, literature, music, architecture, typography, etc. None of these publications were for sale -- they were distributed to friends and business associates by De Jong as elaborate self-promotions.

De Amerikaan Les Levine heeft als uitgangspunt dat kunst gebruikt moet kunnen worden. Hij wordt geïnspireerd door de technologie, de massaproduktie en de Amerikaanse 'consumer society'. Levine begon in 1965 met het maken van stoelen, strak gepakt in roze geschilderd vanvas en opgehangen aan de muur of het plafond. Hierna maakte hij 'disposable art' (wegwerpkunst): objecten in grote oplagen, die weggegooid kunnen worden, als ze gaan vervelen. Rond 1968 maakte hij zgn. star-machines, gemaakt van twee manshoge, doorzichtige, gebogen platen perspex, tegenover elkaar opgesteld in een raam van buizen. Wanneer men hierin staat, verandert het ruimtebesef en moet men zijn handen uitsteken om te voelen waar de begrenzing is. Levine heeft zich beziggehouden met het maken van enviroments, pneumatische kunst en televisieobjecten. Hij geldt als een pionier op het gebied van videokunst.

In zijn werk roept hij vragen op over de sociale en politieke reikwijdte van kunst en stelt hij het manipulatieve karakter van de media aan de kaak. De vraag welke rol de kunstenaar speelt binnen het sociale systeem komt in tal van concrete projecten aan de orde. Levine's Restaurant (New York 1968) en het Museum of Mott Art Inc. (New York 1970) zijn pogingen om de communicatie over kunst en haar functioneren te stimuleren.

Uit: Kunst van Nu. Encyclopedisch overzicht vanaf 1960, 1971 en Encyclopedisch overzicht vanaf 1970, Leiden 1995.
klik hier voor de inhoud

klik hier voor de inhoud

House (Kwadraat-Blad). Ontwerp Pier Brattinga, concept Les Levine.Uitgave: Steendrukkerij de Jong & Co, 1971, 25 x 25 cm(referentie: Stephen Bury, Artists Books, The Book As a Work of Art 1963-1995, Scolar Press 1995).

Elke foto in dit boek is een werkplan voor een beeldhouwwerk of monument. Degene, die dit boek in zijn bezit krijgt, zou moeten trachten een van de monumenten te verwezenlijken op een schaal die in verhouding staat tot de ruimte die hij daarvoor ter beschikking krijgt. Hij kan dit alleen doen, of in samenwerking met een groep. Wanneer hij zijn werk aan het monument heeft voltooid of er genoeg van heeft, wordt hij verzocht foto's ervan te zenden aan Les Levine, 181 Mott Street, New York, New York 10012, U.S.A.

De Kwadraat-Bladen zijn een serie experimenten in druk op het gebied van de grafische vormgeving, beeldende kunst, literatuur, architektuur en muziek. Zij worden samengesteld door Pieter Brattinga en zijn niet te koop. De Kwadraat-Bladen zijn, zolang voorradig, kostenloos verkrijgbaar bij de uitgever.

Les Levine. Museum of Mott Art Inc. Catalogue of after art services 1974, 12 p. 21,5 x 14 cm. New York

A catalogue of 62 supposed services provided to artists by Levine's conceptual Museum of Mott Art Inc. Includes brief description of services and price, introduction, conditions of service and consultation such as: "Activity Selection Service for Artists (What should you do after art? Bring us your biography and a history of your previous work and we will outline a program of activities complete with variations for the next 6 years. Completely tailored to the needs of the individual. Fee - $108 925-0447 for appt), "How to Stop Being an Artist," "Language Services for Painters," "How to Kill Yourself" etc.

"Museum of Mott Art is a consultation service organization, the purpose of which is to provide information and consultation services to the fine art professions and their associates.
1. All services are given on an individual basis only. Lists or other information supplied by Mott Art are deemed to be for the client's use only and not transferable.
2. All inquiries, consultations or conversations between clients and Mott Art shall be held in the strictest of confidence.
3. Information supplied by Mott Art is given in accordance with the highest professional standards. Where an expert is required, a bona fide member of the specific profession will be consulted. Mott Art shall not be held responsible for the outcome of any actions taken as a result of the client receiving information or acting upon the use of any of our services.
4. Fees are charged as per catalogue price or $36 per hour, whichever is the greater. Where particular expertise from a qualified professional is required, the standard hourly rate of that profession shall be charged in addition. All telephone inquiries are billed at $6 per call. Fees are payable immediately as service is supplied." 



2D3D Ontwerpbureau | 2D3D galerie | Documentaire Kwadraat-Bladen from 2D3D Design on Vimeo.

Een serie experimenten in druk op het gebied van grafische vormgeving, beeldende kunst, literatuur, architectuur en muziek, uitgegeven tussen 1955 en 1974 door Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co. Speciale aandacht in deze korte documentaire voor Pieter Brattinga, directeur van Steendrukkerij Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co en initiator van de Kwadraat-Bladen.


WHAT WE MAKE: DUTCH GRAPHIC INDUSTRIES 





Julie C. Fortier
Born 1973 in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
Lives and works in Rennes.


House, 2008
Wood, 530 x 462 x 611 cm
Coproduction Les Ateliers de Rennes / Frac Bretagne

Julie C. Fortier's videos shift between filmed performance and staged disappearances or absences. Her installations and sculptures extend this work, opening up on to an artificial world, reminiscent of cartoons or film sets that plunge us into an unreal world of memory. Her themes are time, emptiness, expectancy and desire.

With funding from the FRAC Bretagne, Julie C. Fortier re-actualizes a concept devised by Les Levine (Irish-born American conceptual artist, born 1935). She carries out a task, suggested by another artist, thus raising the question of artistic authorship, the creative gesture.

Excerpt from the text "Screen façade and haunted sculpture" by Christophe Pichon, published in the exhibition catalogue:
When we peruse Les Levine’s book House, we understand to what extent this lack of information, that certain unforeseen events of reality focus on themselves, requires on the artist’s part such an attentiveness that, in order to pierce the enigma, this latter must take the form of a beat. When, in compliance with the incentive offered by Les Levine, Julie C. Fortier, in turn,


chooses a photograph from the book, in order to make a sculpture “according to the scale of the space that [she] finds available”, she does not create any further information in its regard. Her decision consists rather in assuming and laying claim to, based on an incomplete medium, the image of what she recognises and what she recollects, including if it is in a jumble and even quite remote.

By taking Les Levine’s invitation literally, and by pursuing, in order to include it in reality, what could, at the end of the day, only be a game with no tomorrow, she transforms this proposition for a sculpture that needs activating into a re-animated object, i.e. more dead than alive, on which the film can once more be overlaid. Not a film object (the set it has never been)


but an object that it has been possible to look at, in another time and another place, through film. In this little game of who is haunting whom, or who is haunting what, Julie C. Fortier does not simply contribute to the pursuit of a programme: by taking her part, she plays an active role as well in the preparation of an artistic ethics; the very same one that got Les Levine to say: “I see an artist as a remover of evil spirits”.



Ce projet consiste à appliquer le protocole de travail proposé par Les Levine dans son livre House (© Les Levine 1971, New York/Steendrukkerij de Jong & Co., Hilversum, The Netherland, 1971) au sein duquel il présente différentes photographies d'une même maison de bois en ruine.

House2008
Bois, 455 x 640x 650 cm. Coproduit avec l'appui du Frac Bretagne et Les Ateliers de Rennes – Biennale d'art contemporain, édition 2008. Collection FRAC Bretagne.
















maandag 17 november 2014

The Poetry of Photography POESIE DER PHOTOGRAPHIE Lucien Clergue

Lucien Clergue toros muertos. Maquette préparatoire de l’ouvrage toros muertos, composé de 25 photographies, tirages argentiques d’époque, mise en page par l’auteur. Album 245x310mm Estimation 8000-10000 €




Lucien Clergue was born into the family of a grocer in Arles, southern France, on August 14, 1934. His parents separated when Lucien was 7. His mother was disabled and all her life dreamed of a better lot for her son. She wanted him to be famous and to have a career in the arts. At 7, he started taking classes from a famous local violinist: his mother wanted her son to go to the conservatoire and become a composer.
Lucien Clergue Kunsthaus Vienna 2007 300x208 Lucien Clergue ★
Lucien Clergue
Life willed differently, though. At 16, Lucien had to quit school and start working at their grocer’s shop, which his mother could no longer manage. Then he found a job at a factory to earn a living for himself and his mother. In 1952 his mother died. Lucien had to work at the factory until he was 25.
It was his mother who had gifted an old camera to Lucien when he was 13. A local dealer in cameras taught him how to use it and gave him his first lessons in photography. He saw Lucien’s sincere interest in the magic equipment and allowed him to use cameras from his shop until they were sold.
Clergue was generally lucky in having meetings that influenced his life. He was quite young when all the most important events and acquaintances occurred and plunged him into creative endeavors.  At 18, he met the writer Jean Marie Magnan, who was to support and guide him throughout his career. He told Lucien about the artistic environment of Paris, Picasso and Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre and the existentialists. The artist André Marchand told him about the photographers Man Ray, Marie-Laure de Noailles and Jean-Louis Barrault. At that time Lucien dreamed of a filmmaker’s career, inspired by movies of Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini.
Clerque El Cordobes 300x239 Lucien Clergue ★
Lucien Clerque: El Cordobes. 1963
In 1953, leaving the Arles bullfighting arena, Lucien dared to approach the 62-year-old Picasso and show him his photographs. Picasso seemed interested and allowed Lucien to show him his works in two years’ time. Clergue worked throughout that period to prepare a portfolio and to live up to the Master’s expectations. He took pictures of everyday life in his native Provence and of postwar ruins. In 1954 he did a series of photographs of the production of The Death of Julius Caesar after Shakespeare, staged by Jean Renoir for the 2000th anniversary of Arles. His debut series of photographs, the “Saltimbanques”, presented traveling entertainers, acrobats and harlequins on the ruins of Arles.
When the period of probation was over, the young photographer finally met the artist of world renown. On November 4, 1955, they talked for more than five hours in Picasso’s house in Cannes, as a result of which Picasso promised to design a cover for Clergue’s first book and a poster for his first exhibition. Picasso kept his word. True, the organizers of the exhibition banned the poster. That meeting led to their real friendship that lasted for 30 years until Picasso died. In 1992 Clergue published a book, Picasso my Friend, to mark the 20th death anniversary of the Master.
clergue picasso tm Lucien Clergue ★
Lucien Clergue: Picasso à la cigarette, Cannes, 1956
For years Clergue became a protégé of Picasso, who introduced the young man to his friends. Thus, Jean Cocteau, who saw a photo artist in the young man, became a spiritual director for Clergue in 1956. Until Cocteau died in 1963, the two of them had been corresponding frequently, with Cocteau giving advice and recommendations to Clergue on behalf of his own and Picasso, with whom he discussed Lucien’s works.
Clergue’s first book was Corps mémorable. Poems by Paul Éluard, with a cover by Pablo Picasso and an introductory poem by Jean Cocteau. Lucien presented this book to Max Ernst, who bought his series Flamant morte sur la plage and became one of the first collectors of his works.
In 1959 Clergue did a series of photographs for Jean Cocteau’s film The Testament of Orpheus, in which he saw much that was close to his perception of life.  Mirrors, through which one could enter the kingdom of the dead, were a metaphor for his own quest of the meaning of life. In the ruins of the castle he saw his parental home destroyed in the bombing of Arles.
This past spring (2011) we had a chance to see those works during the Fashion and Style in Photography festival at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum. Of course, one series of photographs is not enough to pass judgment on Clergue’s works.
In 1956 Lucien met Georg Schmidt, director of the Kunstmuseum Basel, in the castle of the British art collector Douglas Cooper, a friend of Picasso’s. Clergue was invited to exhibit at the museum. His exhibition received 25 negative versus three positive reviews. However, every cloud has a silver lining: the museum simultaneously hosted the famous “Family of Man” exhibition, which had been brought from New York by the photographerEdward Steichen, MoMA’s photography department curator. He bought ten photographs from Clergue’s exhibition for the МoМА collection. At the same time Schmidt passed on to Clergue an invitation from a certain Dr. Willy Staehelin to take pictures of his house built of glass and concrete after a design by the architect Marcel Breuer, who had taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. Thus, the flopped exhibition brought Clergue into contact with important people who largely influenced his life.
In 1961, at the invitation of Edward Steichen, Clergue exhibited at “Diogenes with Camera No. 5” at МoМА, New York, together with Bill Brandt and Yashuhiro Ishimoto.
In 1962 Lucien Clergue launches a 60-min. TV program À propos de la Ville d’Arles. Journal de voyage.
In 1963 two books of Clergue – photographs for The Birth of Aphrodite by García Lorca and Toros Muertos by Jean Cocteau – are published practically simultaneously in Paris, Stuttgart and New York. On the basis of his photo sessions in New York and Rio de Janeiro Lucien designs a collection of kerchiefs and scarves for Givenchy. In all fairness it should be pointed out that Clergue always rejected commercial offers from the Vogueand Paris Match magazines, guarding his independence as a photo artist.
The signal Camargue/Marais series of photographs appeared in 1965.  That same year Clergue undertook to develop photo art culture – on his initiative and with his direct involvement the Musée Réattu in Arles set up a department of photography. After his friend Jean-Maurice Rouquette had been appointed museum director, Clergue had the idea of building a top-class collection of photographs in the museum. He wrote to forty of the world’s greatest photographers to solicit gifts for the museum collection. Practically all of them obliged and sent their works, including Henri Cartier-Bresson. A rich American collector made a gift of a collection of photographs, among them many works of Edward Weston.
In 1966 Clergue received the Prix Louis Lumière for his first black-and-white short film Le drame du taureau, released a year earlier. The French TV airs two programs about Clergue’s works.
In 1969 Clergue became director of the Arles festival and, together with Jean-Maurice Rouquette and the writer Michel Tournier, organized the Rencontres d’Arles seminars for photographers. This festival of photography has become a landmark event that for more than forty years has been staged in Clergue’s native town.Lucien+Clergue+Curated+Christian+Lacroix+Vernissage+9n6c0M5fiXNl Lucien Clergue ★
In 1970 Clergue made a round-the-world journey, during which he met in Carmel the American photographer Ansel Adams, famous for his landscape photography, in particular his illustrious pictures of the Grand Canyon and theYosemite National Park (California). Adams attended the Arles festival in 1974 and 1976 while Clergue came to work in his Yosemite studio several times between 1971 and 1983.
In 1974 Clergue began to teach first at the University of Provence in Marseilles and then, in 1982, opened the National School of Photography, where he held a professorship. In 1983 he lectured at the Ansel Adams School in Carmel. In 1990 Clergue became the first foreigner to teach at the Osaka School of Photography (Japan).
Clergue invariably takes part in conferences on Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau as a loyal friend and one of the few contemporaries of theirs who is still alive. He is also a permanent member of numerous photo contests in Europe, Asia and America, conducts photo conferences and mounts exhibitions at many American universities.
Years passed by but Clergue’s interest in the cinema, another visual art, endured. In 1967 he made a film, Delta de sel, which was shown at the Cannes festival and nominated for an Oscar. In 1990 he made a film about the bullfighter Jésulin de Ubrique.
An indefatigable experimenter, Clergue began to make Polaroid pictures (including large-format ones) when he developed eye problems in the early 1980s . He also experimented with overlaying images and took up photo collage.
In 1975 he ventured into color photography in addition to his exclusively black-and-white pictures made earlier.
True to his passion for music, Clergue continues to play the violin and takes part in unique musical performances. In 1992 he presented his Provence – 4 Seasons slideshow within the framework of les Provenciades to the accompaniment of the Marseille Symphony Orchestra. In 1993, together with pianist Kochoyan, Clergue produced an audio-visual performance Jazz y Toros at the Nîmes Opera Theater, later shown at the Arles Festival of Photography.
Stage design is also in the focus of Clergue’s attention. He made stage sets for the following ballets:
Le Jour où la terre trembla (Ballets Modernes de Paris, 1959);
Orlando Furioso (La Fenice Theater, Venice, Italy, 1972);
Le Fils du Vent after Jean Cocteau (1963, remained unproduced because of Cocteau’s death).
For years on end portrayal of female nudes has been a favorite theme with Clergue. He photographed nudes in the woods, the sands of the Nevada desert, in sea waves, and in Paris and New York streets, emphasizing bodily shapes by the play of light and shade in the Zebra nude series. In his countless trips around the world Clergue developed the theme with different models, opening workshops in various cities. His devotion to this theme has won him scandalous reputation – the Fidel Castro administration barred him from visiting Cuba in 2001.
His works are in many museum and private collections. In 1975 the National Museum of Modern Art purchased 60 of Clergue’s photographs for the Centre Georges Pompidou collection. In 1994 New York’s MoMA received a gift of ten photographs of Clergue. That same year the European House of Photography of Paris acquired six photographs of bullfights.
Clergue’s fans are largely indebted to his first Swiss collectors and patrons, Marina and Willy Staehelin and Charlotte and Dr. Willy Reber. They began to buy Clergue’s photographs from the Zurich exhibition in 1960 and from the Basel exhibition in 1961 and continued collecting his works for 35 years. Such stable financial support at the start of his career meant a lot for the young photographer and enabled him to remain an independent photo artist for long. Dr. Willy Reber died in 1995 and Willy Staehelin in 1996. Charlotte Reber decided to preserve the collection intact and gave it as a gift to the Harvard University Art Museums in 1996. Marina Staehelin AVT Lucien Clergue 8535.pjpeg  200x300 Lucien Clergue ★offered the collection to several Swiss museums, but unfortunately none of them could afford buying the whole of the collection, as a result of which many photographs and portfolios were auctioned by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and German and Swiss auction houses. The antique market was already familiar with Clergue: from 1995 on Sotheby’s and Christie’s (New York), Maitre Beaussant Lefèvre and Tajan (Paris) and Maitre Fleck (Marseilles) have had his works on offer.
Clergue has published 75 books, both illustrating literary pieces and albums of his photography.
Lucien Clergue has made a great contribution to the development and popularization of French photo art and has been highly appreciated at home. In 1980 President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing of France awarded him the Order of Merit, in 2003 Clergue became the holder of the Order of the Legion of Honor, and in 2006 became the first photographer to be elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts de France. He is also a member of the Arles Academy of Arts (1974).




Les hommes et les femmes de Lucien Clergue from Les Rencontres d'Arles on Vimeo.


Lucien Clergue, Toros muertos, Éditions Forces vives, Paris, 1963 [postfaces de Jean Cocteau et Jean-Marie Magnan]. Aperçu de l’ouvrage.
Réalisée par Jean Petit, cette plaquette publiée à Paris aux Éditions Forces vives en 1963 réunit vingt-huit photographies de Lucien Clergue et s’achève par les postfaces de Jean Cocteau et de Jean-Marie Magnan, tous deux proches de Clergue et aficionados comme lui. À ce propos, Cocteau écrit : « Il m’est arrivé, aux arènes de Nîmes et d’Arles, au lieu de regarder le duel central, de suivre Clergue en chasse autour de la piste. Rien de plus singulier que ce spectacle d’un merle à qui le bec jaune d’une casquette ajoute une ressemblance, sautillant et vif, son œil rond tendu vers les moindres manifestations de l’extraordinaire » (Jean Cocteau, Lucien Clergue, catalogue de l’exposition organisée par Pierre Chanel, Lunéville, 1964).














CLERGUE, Lucien. El Cordobes. (Paris): Le Jeune Parque, (1965). Small square quarto, original red paper-covered boards.
First edition, Clergue’s brilliant photobook of famed matador El Cordobés, with 77 dramatic black-and-white photogravures of the charismatic torero whose courage made him a legend.
A founding member of Expression Libre in 1964, Lucien Clergue has produced, in El Cordobesand in works such as Toros muertos (1962), singular photobooks where he “transports us right into the ring” and captures some of “what are arguably the best photographs ever taken of the bullfight” (Parr & Badger I:219). Here Clergue follows the matador Manuel Benítez Pérez—El Cordobés—whose celebrated courage and flamboyance in the ring made him the most highly paid torero in history by the time of his retirement in 1971. With essays by Paco Tolosa, Robert Marteau, Jean-Marie Magnan, J.-M. Goudard and D. Maïsto. Text in French.


vrijdag 14 november 2014

(Dutch) ARTIST’S BOOKS AND PHOTOGRAPHY OPEN BOOK Exhibition ParisPhoto 2014 Photography



WARNING: Artist's books should come with a warning label. Once you know what they are, be warned, you have the burden of trying to explain them to others.

Who am I to try to define artist's books? Just one person in a long succession. Perhaps I am not as qualified as the rest, being a creator of them instead of a librarian, curator, teacher or critic, but defining them seems to be a never ending task and somebody's got to do it. The only problem is, if you don't know what one is, and you keep on reading, chances are you will have to explain them to others.

As in anything, there are always exceptions to the rule. With artist's books, I would hesitate to establish rules, only tendencies. Essentially, artist's books are contemporary art. If they are art, then they must be made by artists. If they resemble books at times, then they might be defined as books, or publications, made by artists. But what if they are made by philosophers or writers? Like Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy (1760) or Jacques Derrida in Glas (1974) ? Stephen Bury, author of Artists' Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963-1995 argues that no matter how inspirational these works are, they cannot be artist's books because they were not made by artists. I assure you, the essays in his book are much better than mine. But since you've stumbled on to this essay, I'll continue. I may be a bit egalitarian or relativistic for some, but I would say that artist's books, indeed, may be made by anyone that is willing to try. That is one reason why "artist's books" is not necessarily the most apt terminology for the genre.

There are raging battles about this terminology, and many variants of the term itself. The silliest, but most prevalent disagreement, has to do with commas, or rather, possessive apostrophes, the ones up in the air. Many people would say it is Artist's Book in the singular and Artists' Books in the plural. But as I take an interest in this, and make a sort of mental tally, I have noticed "artist book", "artist books" and "artists books" often used. With the spoken word, the discrepancies disappear. Each version sounds the same out loud, and punctuation is not an issue. Punctuation is becoming even less of an issue regarding the written word due to electronic communication. Some people avoid the controversy altogether and call the art in question "book art" or "bookworks". That eliminates both the artist connection and the possessive argument. But it doesn't end here. There are all sorts of terms, for example "livre d'artiste" or "livre de peintre". They are used in english to define very special, often luxurious books with poems or literary works accompanied by original illustrations commissioned of artists by fine press publishers, often in limited editions. With artist's books, however, it is generally one individual making all the choices, without the involvement of an editor or publisher. In this sense, they may be likened to independent films. The final product reflects the artistic vision of one person, without imposed constraints connected to marketing or even censorship.

To explain the categories, subsets and tendencies of artist's books, a diagram may be helpful:



These two axis allow for many possibilities. For example, it would seem certain that a totally handmade book would also be a unique edition, or one of a kind. However, as crazy as it might be, some people choose to produce artist's books which entail all sorts of processes by hand in open-ended, or potentially infinite editions. And while it might be logical to presume that a mechanical or electronic artist's book would be produced in a very large edition, it too may be created as a unique book in an edition of one. Why would someone go to all the trouble of handsetting and proofing a letterpress text, using this mechanical process invented specifically created to print large editions of books instead of handwritten ones, for the sake of making a single copy? In order to communicate an idea. Because an artist's book is a tool used to explore and communicate ideas in a very individual way, and there are endless means to these ends, often eccentric or controversial ones.

Another way to explain artist's books is by elimination, that is, by stating what they are not:

They are not children's books
They are not sketch books.
They are not diaries.
They are not blank books.
They are not exhibition catalogs.
They are not reproductions of a body of an artist's work.
They are not art books(a common misnomer).
However, they may parody or play with any of the above, as well as all other standard categories such as novels, self-help books, non-fiction, cookbooks, operating manuals, manifestos, travel guides, essays, etc. Artist's books function in the same way as contemporary art: as an expression of someone's creativity, often with social commentary, but sometimes in a purely abstract way, in absence of words or recognizable imagery.

Then should artist's books be considered a separate category?

In the sense that they may adopt any and all forms of contemporary art, such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation and performance art(necessarily including film and video) plus all forms of "craft" which have crept into contemporary art on their own, such as textiles or fiber art, bookbinding, typography, calligraphy, papermaking, etc, maybe they shouldn't be a separate category. But the category exists. At one time, in early nineteenth century America, the profession of sculptor did not exist in the fine arts. Photography and printmaking fought long and hard as well to be considered valid art forms, not just mechanical means of reproduction. The category of artist's books still confronts issues which no longer concern more established forms of art. They remain obscure as well: there are many artists and art collectors who have never heard of them.

What distinguishes artist's books from other art forms?

They are usually intended to be portable. They often come with specially created cases or containers to help in the storage, protection and transportation of the work. The cases are generally an integral part of the work itself, the first step in the viewing process.

They are mixed-media. They combine many processes. So that once the suite of photographs or prints or pulp paintings or weavings has been completed, the work does not end there, as it might for a photographer or printmaker or fiber artist. For someone making an artist's book, it is just one step of the way. Printing the text, die-cutting, creating a binding and a case, or preparing an installation, will often follow. Ironically, the final confection, which may include a portfolio of prints, paintings or photographs, might sell for less than a single, unbound image of artwork.

They are usually supposed to be touched and interacted with, often with a specific predetermined sequence. All of their physical attributes are not visible at once. And in the process of manipulating them, their multi-layered approaches attempt to manipulate you, just as the sequence of a film or even an obstacle course.

A single work may have a number of different display possibilities. Artist's books often have elements that may be arranged according to the viewer's preference, hanging or flat. Or the work may be designed to transform into a sculpture. An artist might interact with the book during a performance, or the book may transform itself, perhaps through melting, and be dubbed a "performance book".

They are generally not intended to decorate the collector's home. That reduces the field of private collectors dramatically, including corporate collections. It takes an unusual collector to buy art which, in being meant to be touched, requires special care, and it takes an even rarer breed to buy art that can't double as decoration, constantly on display for all to see.

So who is most likely to buy artist's books?

Public collections: libraries, museums and university special collections, which seek meaningful art regardless of its ability to adorn their walls. However, preconceptions and polemics abound within public collecting. There are debates within institutions about whether artist's books should be collected or not. Curators of museums in the U.S. and abroad have become upset that art librarians are spending money on artist's books, instead of solely on research books. Some are incensed that librarians function as curators; some resent that their own departments have no budget to collect art, so why should the library be able to? These complaints result at times in a mandate prohibiting the further purchase of artist's books.

Some institutions are permitted to purchase artist's books, but only collect books made by artists already represented in their collections of painting, sculpture or contemporary art. This reflects an often-stated bias that only artist's books made by artists established in other disciplines are worthy of attention. Perhaps this indicates that those of us who focus on artist's books should shun the title "book artist", and call ourselves photographers or painters. Few artists, or people, would choose to be pigeon-holed as to a style or category. Regardless, we are what we're labeled in the media or in history. While wonderful artists have certainly created some phenomenal artist's books, it is equally true that people dabbling occasionally in the genre sometimes fail to create effective works, because of problems with structure or concept due to unfamiliarity with the medium. And while it may be true at times that artist's books are purchased because they were created by a certain well-known artist, it is often the case instead that a work is purchased purely on the strength of its content, structure or message, regardless of who made it. This makes the field of artist's books a friendlier and more open subset of the contemporary art world.

However, every new curator or librarian brings specialties, strengths and preferences to their job, and the quantity or variety of artist's books being collected during each tenure will vary. As collections may be broad, with many different kinds of holdings, each curator or librarian will build on their institution's collections as they see fit. Sometimes, the power of an individual to collect is transferred instead to a collections committee within the institutions. This can work against artist's books, as they often benefit from a personal demonstration by artist or dealer, because of their multi-layered, sometimes subtle, approach. A prospectus describing the work, perhaps in combination with a colophon within the book, is often used to explain the work in absence of its creator.

The various issues raised above, while attempting to illuminate the genre, also demonstrate why you may have never heard of artist's books. The awareness of artist's books is surely increasing, judging from the astounding number of courses, even university degrees, offered in the book arts around the world, and due to the great number of exhibitions in libraries and museums. Not to mention the numerous book arts organizations and resources on the internet. But the road is slow, and many an enthusiastic gallerist, dealer or venue dedicated to artist's books over the last 25 years closed its doors due to the difficulties of selling artist's books while maintaining overhead costs. To be fair, this is true of contemporary art venues in general and independent bookstores as well. Even the most famous artist's book venue in the world, Printed Matter in New York City, has struggled with chronic debt, unable at times to pay artists for works sold. One of Printed Matter's founding board members, the art critic Lucy Lippard, once confided in me that when they opened, they thought artist's books would soon be found in every corner drugstore. "Boy, were we wrong," she added. Susan Herter of Herter Studios, during her tenure as editor at Chonicle Books in San Francisco, tried very hard to promote trade editions, or mass-produced approximations, of artist's books. Apart from the Griffin and Sabine series, which in fact did a lot to expand the general public's perception of the possibilities of book formats, Herter told me her efforts were unsuccessful.

But artist's books and the unusual experiences they offer are as alive as ever, despite the difficulties of making them, selling them or physically handling and displaying them. Why? Because people can't help creating them and enjoying them. And if you still don't know what one is, the easiest thing to do is to see some examples, so find one near you. Details below.

PLACES TO LOOK -

Large public libraries; university special collections or art libraries; specialized dealers and bookstores; prints, photographs and drawings collections of museums, or museum libraries, or both.

RESOURCES ON THE WEB -

http://www.philobiblon.com - "The Book Arts Web", maintained and supported by Stanford University
philobiblon.com includes book arts discussion group:
BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
a sort of (un)confidential chat for participants in the field includes Book Arts Links with comprehensive lists of organizations, materials, artists and dealers
http://www.colophon.com - "Colophon Page"
www.colophon.com hosts a discussion Forum for anyone who wants to field inquiries about the book arts via e-mail, or address the community, with no need to subscribe. Offers Umbrella Magazine online, a tenacious publication dedicated to book arts includes a calendar, gallery and marketplace with listings of vendors
Department of Creative Arts
Centre for Fine Print Research
University of the West of England, Bristol
www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/
Victoria and Albert Museum
Artists’ Books: Interviews with Artists
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/artists-books-interviews/

FREE RESOURCE MATERIALS-
For people who teach courses or lecture on artist's books, I offer some free samples of my own artist's books and process pieces as supplies last. Please contact me for details.

SUGGESTED READING -

I have listed three very different choices below, but an exhaustive selection of books about books, including making books, may be perused over the web at Oak Knoll Books. http://www.oakknoll.com 
I have also written other essays in conjunction with exhibitions. You will find them in the "writings" section of this website.

MAKING BOOKS:

Making Books by Hand - A Step by Step Guide
by book artist Mary McCarthy and Phillip Manna
Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, MA
(This is a very detailed, simple manual geared to high-school students or beginners looking for
applicable projects. Ample listings of resources, suppliers and suggested reading as well.)

Books, Boxes and Portfolios
by Franz Zeier
Design Press, New York
(This user-friendly manual guides readers through many useful formats and procedures..
Bibliography and suppliers listed in the back.)

The Thames and Hudson Manual of Bookbinding
by Arthur W. Johnson
Thames and Hudson, Ltd, London
(A traditional bookbinding manual for fine binding procedures, with historical methods
for books bound and tooled in leather.)

© 2002 Angela Lorenz


See also 

The Photobook as Artist’s Book Stephen Bury Photography



See also 

Kunstenaarsboeken (artists' books) uit Nederland en België deel 1: de jaren '70 en '80.

Exhibition

ARTIST’S BOOKS AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Curated by Sebastian Hau and Pierre Hourquet
The exhibition presents a selection of art books published between the 1960s and today. Since the release of “Twenty-six Gasoline Stations” in 1963 by the American artist Edward Ruscha, the reproduction of photographic images is one of the preferred media for numerous international artists such as Andy Warhol, John Baldessari, Gilbert & George, Hans-Peter Feldmann and many others. This new type of book, whether a multiple object, a limited edition or unlimited publication, directly designed by the authors, has been adopted and taken up since the 1980s by photographers and contemporary artists such as Richard Prince, Christopher Wool, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sophie Calle, Mike Kelley, Gerhard Richter, Christian Marclay or Anselm Kiefer.
VIEW THE COMPLETE LIST

ARAKI
The Banquet 
Magazine House 

1993 
CARL ANDRE
Quincy book + catalogue
Addison Gallery of American Art
1973

JOHN BALDESSARI
Brutus Killed Cesar
The Emily H. Davis Art Gallery
1976

YTO BARRADA
A Guide To Trees for Governors and Gardeners
Deutsche Guggenheim
2011

MAURIZIO BERLINCIONI
Fotocoppie
Edizioni Vera Biondi
1982

Plants & Mammals
Horticultural Society of New York
2009

BRINKMANN & KRÜLL
Godzilla
Hake
1968

DANIEL BUREN
Halifax
Multiplicata / Lithography Workshop of N.S.C.A.D.
1974

VICTOR BURGIN
Family
Lapp Princess Press, in association with Printed Matter, Inc.
1977

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS
Scrap Book 3
Claude Givaudan
1979

SOPHIE CALLE
Tito
Self-published
1980 -1990


CLAUDE CLOSKY / OLIVIER ZAHM
Magazine
Purple Books
1998

HUGH SCOTT DOUGLAS
Cyanotypes
Mousse Publishing
2012

PETER DOWNSBROUGH
In Place
New York
1977

DOCUMENTATION CELINE DUVALL
Coeur, point, et ligne sur plan
Documentation Celine Duval
2013
Paris

HANS EIJKELBOOM
1978
29 x 21 cm
See also

Erik Kessels on Hans Eijkelboom In de Krant Artist's Book Parr/Badger III Photography


HANS-PETER FELDMANN
Der Überfall
Hake
1975

HANS PETER FELDMANN
Bilder (6 /11 /12)
Edition Hans-Peter Feldmann
1970-75

FISCHLI & WEISS
Sichtbare Welt
Walther König
2000

BRAD FREEMAN
Sim War
Varicose Productions
1991
16,5 x 15,5 cm

THOMAS GALLER
Walking Through Baghdad
Edition fink
2009

GILBERT & GEORGE
Dark Shadow
Nigel Greenwood
1976

PAOLO GIOLI
La Conchiglia Dissoluta
Self-published
1990

NANCY HOLT
Ransacked
Printed Matter
1980

BRUNO JAKOB
The Touch
Kirchgemeinde Grossmünster Zürich
2014

FRANÇOISE JANICOT / BERNARD HEIDSIECK
Encoconnage
Guy Schraenen
1974

KIKUJI KAWADA
Chizu / The Map
Bijutsu-shuppansha
1965

MIKE KELLEY
Sonsbeek 93 / Fred Hoffman

ANSELM KIEFER
Hoffmann Von Fallersleben Auf Helgoland
Groninger Museum
1980

MARTIN KIPPENBERGER
Michael / Michi
1989

JOSEPH KOSUTH
Letters from Wittgenstein Abridged in Ghent
Imschoot
1992

LESLIE ROBERT KRIMS
Fictcryptokrimsographs
Humpy Press Inc.
1975

LESLIE ROBERT KRIMS
The Deerslayers
Self-published
1972

SOL LEWITT
Sunrise & Sunset at Praiano
Rizzoli
1980

RICHARD LONG
Rivers and Stones
Newlyn
1978

STEVE MCQUEEN
Queen and Country
The British Council Visual Arts Publications
2010

CHRISTIAN MARCLAY
Cyanotypes
JRP-Ringier / Graphicstudio
2011

ARI MARCOPOULOS
Directory
Nieves
2011

GORDON MATTA-CLARK
Wallpapers
Buffallo Press
1973

ANNETTE MESSAGER
D’Approche
J.D. Carr.
1995

JONATHAN MONK
Blue Peter
Tramway
2008

MAURIZIO NANNUCCI
Sessante verdi naturali, da una indagine
Taxipalais / Firenze Renzo Spagnoli
1977

BRUCE NAUMAN
Clear Sky (Clea Rsky)
Leo Castelli Gallery
1967-1968

SOPHIE NYS
Catalogue Version VI
Circuit
2012

RICHARD NONAS
My Life On The Floor
Buffalo Press
1974

KEN OHARA
One
Tsukiji shokan
1970

GIUSEPPE PENONE
Svolgere la propria pelle
Sperone
1971

PETER PILLER
Von Erde Schöner
Revolver / Archiv für Aktuelle Kunst
2008
25 x 25 cm

RICHARD PRINCE
Adult Comedy Action Drama
Scalo
1995

ROB PRUITT
Holy Crap
38th Street Publishers
2010

GERHARD RICHTER
Wald
Walther König
2008

ALLEN RUPPERSBERG
24 Pieces
Self-published
1969

EDWARD RUSCHA
Catalog Minneapolis Institute Of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
1972

EDWARD RUSCHA
Royal Road Test
Self-published
1967


BARBARA SCHMIDT-HEINS
1949-1979
Self-published
1979

JACK SMITH
The Beautiful Book
The Dead Language
1962

STEPHANIE SOLINAS
Dominique Lambert
Alaska Editions
2010

DANIEL SPOERRI
L’Optique Moderne
Editions Fluxus
1963

KLAUS STAECK
Pornografie
Steinbach / Giessen
1971

BATIA SUTER
Parallel Encyclopedia
Roma Publications
2007

FIONA TAN
Book Works
2006


WOLFGANG TILLMANS
Total Solar Eclipse
Galerie Daniel Buchholz
1999

ROSEMARIE TROCKEL
Jedes Tier ist eine Künstlerin
Prospexus
1993

FRANCO VACCARI
Viaggio sul Reno Settembre 1974
Brescia
1974

ERIK VAN DER WEIJDE
4478

IAN WALLACE
Work 1979
Vancouver Art Gallery
1979

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS
Printed In Germany
Walther König
2014

Winner of the Photography Catalogue of the Year: The Production Line of Happiness and Printed in Germany from Paris Photo on Vimeo.

CHRISTOPHER WOOL
Absent Without Leave
Daad
1993

The books are lent by:
Sebastian Hau, Pierre Hourquet, Franz & Walther König, Florence Loewy, Tissato Nakahara, Chloé & Denis Ozanne, Christoph Schifferli, Benjamin Sommerhalder.

See also 

Multiple / Readings by Studio Luc Derycke