Artists’ books are works of art, like paintings or sculptures, but in book form. While book illustration has a much longer history, the book as art object is a product of the 20th century. Some of the early examples were created by Futurists and Dadaists in their politically-motivated pamphlets and magazines, by Fluxus artists in their happenings, and by conceptual artists’ in their work to dematerialize the art object. Artists’ books can also be unique creations undertaken with extreme care and attention to detail. Some are experimental and done by artists better known as painters or sculptors, as a way to extend their artistic practice.
Artists’ books exist at the intersections of printmaking, photography, poetry, experimental narrative, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing. They have made a place for themselves in the collections of museums, libraries, and private collectors. They have caught the interest of art historians and critics writing about art, and there are numerous studio programs in art schools dedicated to the art of the book, ushering in new generations of artists making books.
ARTISTS’ BOOKS ARE A FAVORITE ART FORM OF THE LRFA BLOG AND NO ONE IS A MORE FERVENT ADVOCATE AND EXPERT THAN RARE BOOK SPECIALIST DOUG FLAMM AT GAGOSIAN. HE HAS INTRODUCED US TO SO MANY UNIQUE AND MARVELOUS EXAMPLES.
TWO OF THE MOST LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTORS TO THE LEGACY OF ARTISTS’ BOOKS ARE PABLO PICASSO AND ED RUSCHA. IN THE MID-TWENTIETH CENTURY PICASSO FOLLOWED A MORE TRADITIONAL CONCEPT, INCLUDING BEAUTIFUL LITHOGRAPHS WITH A TEXT BY THE FRENCH INTELLECTUAL, MAURICE TOESCA. ED RUSCHA REVOLUTIONIZED ARTIST BOOKMAKING BY ITS DEMOCRATIZATION, PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION METHODS. RUSCHA CELEBRATES THE BANAL AND THE ARTIST BOOK FORMAT IS A PERFECT VEHICLE FOR THIS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.
AT THE GAGOSIAN SHOP AT 967 MADISON AVENUE, BETWEEN 75th AND 76th STREET, ENRICH THE LIBRARY OF SOMEONE DEAR TO YOU (OR EVEN YOUR OWN!) AND ASK DOUG FLAMM TO SHOW YOU THESE TWO COLLECTOR ITEMS. THE SHOP IS OPEN THIS SUNDAY, CHRISTMAS EVE, FROM 10:00-3:00 FOR LAST MINUTE GIFTS THAT WILL FEEL THOUGHTFUL AND PRE-PLANNED BY THE RECIPIENTS.
Six Contes Fantastiques
Text by Maurice Toesca
10 1/8 × 13 1/4 inches (25.7 × 33.7 cm)
Published by Flammarion, Paris, 1953
This copy is one of 75 copies printed on Montval wove paper, from a total edition of 225 copies. Illustrated with 6 engravings with burin by Picasso. Loose in Japan paper wrappers with chemise and slipcase as issued.
Complete Set of Artist Books
Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Various Small Fires and Milk, Some Los Angeles Apartments, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles, Royal Road Test, Nine Swimming Pools and Broken Glass, Crackers, Babycakes with Weights, Real Estate Opportunities, A Few Palm Trees, Dutch Details, Records, Colored People, and Hard Light
Various publishers, 1963–1978
A rare and highly sought-after set of sixteen artists books by Ed Ruscha. All of the books are first editions and many are either signed (seven) or inscribed (four) by Ruscha.
Each book in this set is complete with original glassine when issued and housed in a recently fabricated archival cloth clamshell box with title and date printed on the spine.
Ruscha’s books mark a significant change in bookmaking by artists as the premise is not to enhance or respond to a text. They are antithetical to the history of livre d’artistes—the books do not contain fine prints (etchings, lithographs, etc.) but are simply printed by the more common offset process. Ruscha’s use of banal subject matter further accentuates his departure from the realm of historical book-making processes.
Made mostly in small editions, these captivating books have received a great deal of critical acclaim, especially in recent years as his prominence as a major contemporary artist has increased.
THIS IS A TIME OF YEAR WITH A SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON GIVING AND GRATITUDE. THE LRFA BLOG WANTS TO THANK THE GENEROSITY OF ITS CONTRIBUTORS, THEIR THOUGHTFUL INTERVIEWS AND VAST SOURCES OF EXPERTISE AND INFORMATION THAT THEY SHARE. NONE OF THIS WOULD EXIST WITHOUT YOU!
AND, OF COURSE, THANKS TO THE LRFA BLOG FOLLOWERS, WHO MAKE THIS WORTH DOING.
MERRY XMAS TO ALL!