Artists’ books by masters of sculpture and photography: Puryear, Judd, and Sugimoto
AN ARTIST’S BOOK IS A MEDIUM OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION THAT USES THE FORM OR FUNCTION OF A “BOOK” AS ITS INSPIRATIONAL SPRINGBOARD. THE ARTISTIC INITIATIVE RELIES UPON THE CHOICE OF MATERIALS, THE LAYOUT AND DESIGN, AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS THAT TRANSFORMS A BOOK INTO AN ART OBJECT. TODAY, ARTISTS’ BOOKS EXIST AT THE INTERSECTIONS OF PRINTMAKING, PHOTOGRAPHY, POETRY, THE VISUAL ARTS AND PUBLISHING AND HAVE MADE A PLACE FOR THEMSELVES IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS, LIBRARIES AND IN THE PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF BIBLIOPHILES AND ART COLLECTORS. THERE ARE STUDIO PROGRAMS AVAILABLE IN ART SCHOOL CURRICULUMS DEDICATED TO THE “ART OF THE BOOK” THAT USHER IN NEW GENERATIONS OF ARTISTS WHO WILL EXPERIMENT AND CONTRIBUTE TO THIS ART FORM.
IN OUR LAST HOLIDAY LRFA BLOG WITH BOOK EXPERT DOUGLAS FLAMM, OF URSUS BOOKS, 699 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, DOUG WILL INTRODUCE US TO THREE OTHER RARE AND REMARKABLE BOOKS THAT ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOOKSTORE. http://www.ursusbooks.com
DONALD JUDD. Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada. Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects and Wood-Blocks 1960-1974 [INSCRIBED]. xv, 319 pp. catalogue well illustrated in b&w. Folio, wraps. 1975. (#156203) $5,000.00
This iconic book was produced on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition in Ottawa.
The only catalogue raisonne of Judd’s sculpture, it is complete with provenance, exhibition history and bibliography. Text in English and French. Inscribed by Judd, “For Sidney and Jane, 9 Dec 76, Don”.
Donald Judd revolutionized practices and attitudes surrounding art making and the exhibition of art, primarily advocating for the permanent installation of works by artists in carefully selected environments. Judd’s first solo exhibition was in 1957 at the Panoras Gallery, New York, the same year he began graduate studies in art history at Columbia University. Over the next decade, Judd worked as a critic for ARTnews, Arts Magazine, and Art International; his subsequent theoretical writings on art and exhibition practices would prove to be some of his most important and lasting legacies.
The work of Donald Judd, one of the most significant American artists of the post-war period, has come to define what has been referred to as Minimalist art—a label to which the artist strongly objected on the grounds of its generality. The unaffected, straightforward quality of Judd’s work demonstrates his strong interest in color, form, material, and space. With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical “presence” without recourse to grand philosophical statements, he eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.
PURYEAR, Martin. Cane. By Jean Toomer. 141,  pp. With 10 woodcuts by Martin Puryear, and an afterword by Leon LF. Litwack. Oblong folio, bound in original tan cloth. San Francisco: The Arion Press, 2000.
An immaculate copy of this important book, first published in 1923, which has long been considered one of the most important works of the Harlem Renaissance. Martin Puryear contributed a stunning set of illustrations and Andrew Hoyem designed an elegant book which does justice to both the author and the artist. The historian Leon Litwack has contributed an essay placing the book in historical context. One of an edition of 350 copies signed by the artist, and already scarce.
Martin Puryear (born 1941) lives and works in upstate New York. Puryear’s abstract organic forms are rich with psychological and intellectual references that explore issues of ethnicity, culture, and history. His new sculptures incorporate a diverse range of materials, from bronze, cast iron, and mirror-polished stainless steel to a variety of woods, including red cedar, tulip poplar, maple, holly, Alaskan yellow cedar, walnut, and ebony. Puryear’s sculptures, typically made by hand with labor-intensive methods, often require months to complete. His techniques, developed over a forty-year career, combine practices adapted from many different traditions, including wood carving, joinery, and boat building, as well as recent digital technology.
His first one-person exhibition opened in 1968. Since then he has had one-person exhibitions at numerous museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Fundación “la Caixa” in Madrid, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and he has completed public commissions in Europe, Japan, and the United States. In 1989 he represented the United States at the São Paulo Biennial, receiving the festival’s Grand Prize, and in 1992 his work was included in Documenta 9 in Kassel, Germany. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, organized a retrospective of his work in 2007, which traveled to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation award and a Presidential Medal of the Arts.
SUGIMOTO, Hiroshi. Sea of Buddha. Edited by Atsuko Koyanagi.  pp. Illustrated with 48 original double-spread Sugimoto photographs on heavy stockmatte art paper. 8vo., bound accordion-style in polished aluminum covers, title lettered in black on top cover, preserved in white silk slipcase. New York: Sonnabend Sudell Editions, 1997.
A clever and elegantly designed book printed by Dai Nippon Printing Co. presents Sugimoto’s complete series of 1000 Kannon Bothisattva statues in Kyoto’s Sanju San-Gen-Do temple, The Hall of Thirty-three Bays. The complete edition represents 1 million Bodhisattvas, as mentioned on the title page. The book can be opened to offer a panorama of nearly 48 feet long. Edition limited to 1000 numbered copies.
Hiroshi Sugimoto, best known for his technically brilliant photographs of American movie palaces and drive-ins, the sea and its horizon, blurred images of Modernist architecture, and lightning fields, used his long exposures to capture these dark early dawn images of Buddhas. A small nick to the aluminum cover else a fine copy.
“After seven years of red tape, I was finally granted permission to photograph in the temple of Sanjusangendo, “Hall of Thirty-Three Bays.” In special preparation for the shoot, I had all late-medieval and early-modern embellishments removed, as well as having the contemporary fluorescent lighting turned off, recreating the splendor of the thousand bodhisattvas glistening in the light of the morning sun rising over the Higashiyama hills as the Kyoto aristocracy might have seen in the Heian period (794-1185). Will today’s conceptual art survive another eight-hundred years?”
Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1948, and lives and works in New York and Tokyo. His interest in art began early. His reading of André Breton’s writings led to his discovery of Surrealism and Dada and a lifelong connection to the work and philosophy of Marcel Duchamp. Central to Sugimoto’s work is the idea that photography is a time machine, a method of preserving and picturing memory and time. This theme provides the defining principle of his ongoing series, including “Dioramas” (1976–), “Theaters” (1978–), and “Seascapes” (1980–). Sugimoto sees with the eye of the sculptor, painter, architect, and philosopher. He uses his camera in a myriad of ways to create images that seem to convey his subjects’ essence, whether architectural, sculptural, painterly, or of the natural world. He places extraordinary value on craftsmanship, printing his photographs with meticulous attention and a keen understanding of the nuances of the silver print and its potential for tonal richness—in his seemingly infinite palette of blacks, whites, and grays.
DOUG, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INTRODUCING THESE WONDERFUL OBJECTS TO US ON THE LRFA BLOG.
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UNTIL THEN, WISHING YOU ALL THE HAPPIEST YEAR AHEAD!