James Turrell, Andy Warhol, Kara Walker: 3 monumental artists in an intimate format
ARTISTS’ BOOKS ARE A VIBRANT AND ENGAGING AREA OF COLLECTING. JUST AS DRAWINGS AND WORKS ON PAPER ARE OFTEN THE FOCUS OF COLLECTING FOR ART CONNOISSEURS WHO DELIGHT IN A DEEPER AND MORE INTIMATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARTIST’S CREATIVE PROCESS, THE ARTIST’S BOOK OPENS A DOORWAY TO AN ARTIST’S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE AND AESTHETIC. AN ARTIST’S BOOK IS OFTEN PRODUCED IN LARGER EDITIONS THAT ALLOW ACCESS TO THE WORK BY A LARGER AUDIENCE AND, THUS, IS A POWERFUL COMMUNICATIVE AESTHETIC VEHICLE. THE SIMPLICITY OF ITS FORM AND SMALLER FORMAT PROVIDE THE READER WITH A CONNECTION TO THE ARTIST THAT IS INDIVIDUAL AND PERSONAL WHILE SERVING TO DISSEMINATE THE ARTIST’S THINKING IN A BROADER AND MORE INCLUSIVE FORM.
DOUG FLAMM, OF URSUS BOOKS, WAS CAPTIVATED BY THIS ART FORM WHEN HE FIRST ENCOUNTERED IT AND IT BECAME THE INITIAL AREA OF SPECIALIZATION IN HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER AS A BOOK DEALER. HIS KNOWLEDGE AND ENTHUSIASM RESONATES WITH ME AND IT IS MY PLEASURE TO SHARE IT WITH YOU IN TODAY’S LRFA BLOG.
HERE ARE A FEW MORE OUTSTANDING ARTISTS’ BOOKS DOUG HAS SELECTED FROM THE SHELVES OF URSUS BOOKS, LOCATED ON MADISON AVENUE BETWEEN 62nd AND 63rd STREETS, IN NEW YORK CITY.
TURRELL, James. Eclipse. Illustrated with two prints by James Turrell, two prints by Thomas Joshua Cooper, a CD of music by Paul Schuetze, and text by Richard Bright. 4to. Linen and wrappers in a linen folding box with paper label as issued. London: Michael Hue-Williams Fine Art, 1999.
A very handsome publication created in response to the total solar eclipse of August 11th, 1999, for which James Turrell created an etching and an aquatint and Thomas Joshua Cooper made two photogravures. This is a scarce book which seems to never appear on the market, and is here in immaculate condition. One of an edition of 100 copies, with the colophon signed by Turrell, who also signed his aquatint. Joshua Cooper signed both photogravures.
James Turrell was born in Los Angeles in 1943. His undergraduate studies at Pomona College focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art, receiving an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. Turrell’s work involves explorations in light and space that speak to viewers without words, impacting the eye, body, and mind with the force of a spiritual awakening. “I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing,” says the artist, “like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.”
Informed by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusions, Turrell’s work allows us to see ourselves “seeing.” Whether harnessing the light at sunset or transforming the glow of a television set into a fluctuating portal, Turrell’s art places viewers in a realm of pure experience. Situated near the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s Painted Desert is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a celestial observatory for the past thirty years. Working with cosmological phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilization and have prompted responses such as Stonehenge and the Mayan calendar, Turrell’s crater brings the heavens down to earth, linking the actions of people with the movements of planets and distant galaxies. His fascination with the phenomena of light is ultimately connected to a very personal, inward search for mankind’s place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker faith, which he characterizes as having a “straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime,” Turrell’s art prompts greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation. His ethereal installations enlist the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the divine. The recipient of several prestigious awards, such as Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Turrell lives in Arizona.
WALKER, Kara. Five Poems. By Toni Morrison. Illustrated with 5 silhouettes by Kara Walker. Folio, bound in publisher’s linen-backed decorated boards and matching slipcase. Las Vegas: Rainmaker Editions, 2002.
A superb contemporary livre de peintre marrying poems by of one of the foremost African-American women writers, the Nobel prize winning Toni Morrison, with illustrations by of one of the leading African-American women artists, Kara Walker, who is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine America’s racial and gender tensions. A superb piece of contemporary bookmaking by the San Francisco printer and book-designer Peter Koch.
One of an edition of 399 copies, with the colophon signed by Kara Walker, Toni Morrison and Peter Koch. As new.
Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The artist is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters fornicate and inflict violence on one another. In works like “Darkytown Rebellion” (2000), the artist uses overhead projectors to throw colored light onto the ceiling, walls, and floor of the exhibition space; the lights cast a shadow of the viewer’s body onto the walls, where it mingles with Walker’s black-paper figures and landscapes.
With one foot in the historical realism of slavery and the other in the fantastical space of the romance novel, Walker’s nightmarish fictions simultaneously seduce and implicate the audience. Walker’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A 1997 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Walker was the United States representative to the 2002 Bienal de São Paulo. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University.
WARHOL, Andy. Andy Warhol. [Exhibition catalogue].  pp. including title-page and numerous quotations by the Artist, followed by hundreds of full-page black and white photographic illustrations. Large 4to., 268 x 210 mm, bound in original wrappers featuring neon-coloured flowers by Warhol, with original printed cardboard box. Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1968. $1,500.00
First Edition of the catalogue for Warhol’s first solo show at a European museum, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, in February-March 1968, curated by Pontus Hultén and Olle Granath. A near fine copy.
More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Warhol’s life and work inspires creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery, his artfully cultivated celebrity, and the ongoing research of dedicated scholars. His impact as an artist is far deeper and greater than his one prescient observation that “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.
The turbulent 1960s ignited an impressive and wildly prolific time in Warhol’s life. It is this period, extending into the early 1970s, which saw the production of many of Warhol’s most iconic works. Building on the emerging movement of Pop Art, wherein artists used everyday consumer objects as subjects, Warhol started painting readily found, mass-produced objects, drawing on his extensive advertising background. When asked about the impulse to paint Campbell’s soup cans, Warhol replied, “I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it”. The humble soup cans would soon take their place among the Marilyn Monroes, Dollar Signs,Disasters, and Coca Cola Bottles as essential, exemplary works of contemporary art.
THE NEXT LRFA BLOG WILL FEATURE ARTISTS’ BOOKS BY THE EXTRAORDINARY SCULPTORS, MARTIN PURYEAR AND DONALD JUDD, AND THE INTERNATIONALLY CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHER, HIROSHI SUGIMOTO.
TIS THE SEASON TO BE THANKFUL- ALL YEAR LONG, REALLY- FOR THE READERS OF MY BLOG, FOR THE EXPERTS THAT CONTRIBUTE AND INFORM ME IN SO MANY WAYS, FOR ALL THOSE NEAR OR FAR WHO ENRICH MY LIFE.
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