vrijdag 1 april 2011

Ed Ruscha Dutch Details Sonsbeek '71 Artist Book Graphic Arts Photography

Ed Ruscha (born 1937), Dutch Details (Deventer, The Netherlands: Stichting Octopus / Sonsbeek 71, 1971). 23 pp. with 116 photomechanical illustrations. Edition of 3,000. 
Edward Ruscha’s books of sequential photomechanical images began in 1963 withTwentysix Gasoline Stations, (GAX 2006-2396N) published in an edition of 400 numbered copies under the imprint “A National Excelsior Publication,” funded by Ruscha himself. The 26 pages offer black and white images of gas stations along Route 66, which Ruscha had taken in 1962. The format had great appeal to him and he went on to produce several dozen other sequential image books over the next few decades. For many historians, Ruscha’s Gasoline Stations represents the beginning of the American artists’ books movement.
1971 was a busy year for Ruscha. He completed five paintings, along with books, films, prints, and drawings, and received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Three books were completed this year: A Few Palm Trees, Records, and Dutch Details. The third was a commission by Sonsbeek ‘71, an international arts exhibition at the Groninger Museum, for which Ruscha was to create a work on site that would then be exhibited. As the plane was approaching The Netherlands, the pilot announced that the weather was bad and he would have more details soon. Ruscha thought, “Dutch details,” and that was the beginning of the project.
Unlike other book projects, Dutch Details is horizontal in format. The images are of bridges and the buildings taken with a hand-held camera. Although the Octopus Foundation published a large edition, the majority of the print run was mistakenly destroyed in a warehouse, and the remaining copies are now highly sought after by Ruscha collectors.
Ruscha said “I don’t want people to go look at these photographs after they are enlarged and they see them on the wall in museums, maybe under the auspice of a museum and consider them to be like a painting … The book, in the end, will be a closer representation of the project.”
The following project was executed in May 1971 for Sonsbeek 71 commissioned by Groninger Museum, Groningen, Het Centrum, Veendam, Geert Teiscentrum, Stadskanaal, Het Museum-Klooster, Ter Apel. It covers the communities of Veendam, Stadskanaal, Musselkanaal and Ter Apel, The Netherlands. The photographs were taken only at bridge-locations and the bridges themselves used as a walkway by the artist to take the pictures with a hand-held camera. Black offsett printing on white paper 11.4 x 38.1 x 0.8 cm (4 1/2 x 15 x 5/16 in.). Each leaf unfolds to double width. 23 pages (10 lateral fold-out pages), 116 photographic illustrations. In edition of 3,000 copies, of which many where lost. Probably destroyed by the publisher/ printer for being unsold. *This is the last of Ruscha's urban landscape books. He devised a system according to which he would photograph the same house six times, first from a distance, then in stages as he moved closer, until the final shot would be a close-up of a detail- a shopwindow display, for example, or a vase of flowers, or a sign. As variations on a single theme, these images of vernacular architecture are consistent with his earlier projects, but his conception of a systematic progression from a broad view to a detail- sometimes so close-up as to be abstract- introduces an explicit temporal dimension that is only implicit in the other books. The unique format of Dutch Details, long and horizontal, may have been inspired by the legendary flatness of the Dutch landscpae and by linear bridges and railings tracing the canals. But it also encouraged an order of visualising the images, in which the left page is to be read from right to left, the right page from left to right. The project for Ruscha was the book; the photographs were a means, not an end (from: Ed Ruscha Photographer, Steidl/ Whitney Museum of American Art, 2006). Concerning the genesis of this artistbook Ruscha said: 'I had no idea what I was going to do until I came to this country, and when I came over on plane the pilot said that he did not know what the wheather was like in Amsterdam, but he'd let us know the details very soon. And that just clicked in my mind, this word details, and so I let that be something to guide me on this project and then I immediately thought: Dutch Details, and gave me moving on the whole project' (from Sonsbeek 71, part 2, page 53). 

Dutch Details meets New Amsterdam

Henderikse, Broadway interior

HENDERIKSE, Jan. Broadway. New York/Rotterdam: Jan Henderikse/Uitgeverji Bébert Edition, 1983.

Oblong 4to.; long accordion foldout illustrated in b&w throughout; housed within printed cardboard covers; string-tied, with Manhattan bus map inserted. Near fine.

First edition; one of 100 copies. Henderikse’s artist’s book documents Broadway in 249 images laid out horizontally, three images to a panel, on 83 individual panels, each attached end-to-end so that it becomes an uninterrupted continuum of street views tracing New York City’s most celebrated thoroughfare as it travels the length of Manhattan from its Southernmost point at The Battery all the way to the Spuyten Duyvil. Folded out in full it is 99 feet long. Broadway, with its horizontal layout, foldout binding, and wide format was quite evidently modeled on Ed Ruscha’s book Dutch Details, which he had published 12 years earlier as a project related to Sonsbeek 71 at the Groninger Museum. This exhibition, which also included Henderickse’s work, focused on site-specific work, non-traditional media such as artists’ books, and other new forms to which the era’s conceptually oriented art practices were giving rise and so Ruscha made Dutch Details as a consciously American take on the typically Dutch-looking streetscapes and vernacular architecture he encountered in the area near the museum. Henderikse, a Dutchman who later took up residence in New York, responded in kind, documenting the typical streetscapes of “New Amsterdam.” 

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If you are interested, Ruscha’s “Real Estate Opportunities” from 1970 is up for auction.