Category Archives: Artists’ books

Artists’ books

Elena Jordana and Ediciones el Mendrugo

A precursor to the better-known 21st century cartoneras (inexpensive books with cardboard covers, originally from Argentina), the Ediciones el Mendrugo also published poetry with handmade images in a modest format from found or recycled materials. Three examples recently came into the Graphic Arts Collection.

[loosely translated from the Living Books site] “…it is worth mentioning a previous history in the publishing world, curiously ignored by those who investigated this popular phenomenon, Ediciones El Mendrugo, by the Argentine poet Elena Jordana, who in the early 70s published books bound with corrugated cardboard, printed on kraft paper (or estraza) and tied with sisal thread, with typography of rubber stamps, where it was necessary to count on heavy typewriters capable of perforating on the stencil (artistic decoration technique), in order to consign the data of title and authorship on the covers, in the aesthetic way of the university flyers.

Each issue was personally distributed by the author herself, on her trips to Mexico, the United States and Argentina. Among the published authors are Nicanor Parra, Ernesto Sábato (who gave up his publication rights so that the text “Letter to a young writer”, with support from the Argentine Society of Writers (SADE), was presented at the 1974 Book Fair), Octavio Paz, Enrique Fierro, Juan de la Cabada, Guillermo Samperio, José Joaquín Blanco and Alejandro Sandoval among thirty writers. As it appears in the journalistic chronicle, each book was made individually among friends, with jugs of wine and songs (Elena herself studied folksong in its beginnings), even some books were accompanied by a jute backpack so readers could wear it more comfortably.”–http://librosvivientes.blogspot.com/2015/11/ediciones-el-mendrugo-precursora-de-las.html

Princeton University Library holds nearly 400 cantoneras, most from the 21st century and so, the addition of these earlier examples of the genre are most welcome. While there are many groups or presses making these books, the majority of our current holdings are from the Eloísa Cartonera.

A history of the movement has been published, which will be helpful in sorting out the participants: Akademia cartonera: a primer of Latin American cartonera publishers = un abc de las editoriales cartoneras en América Latina edited by Ksenija Bilbija, Paloma Celis Carbajal; editorial assistance by Lauren Pagel and Djurdja Trajković (Madison, Wis.: Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, 2009). Firestone Z490 .A37 2009.

Maka C. Dorantes (Maka), Espacio del Espacio (Mexico City, D. F.: Ediciones el Mendrugo/Elena Jordana, n. d. 197?). First Edition. Unpageated (ca. 30 pp.) Graphic Arts Collection in process

MarcoAntonio Montes de Oca, Astillas (Mexico City, D. F.: Ediciones el Mendrugo/Elena Jordana, n. d. 197?). First Edition. Graphic Arts Collection in process

Maka C. Dorantes (Maka), Velamen (Mexico City, D. F.: Ediciones el Mendrugo/Elena Jordana, n. d. 197?). First Edition. Graphic Arts Collection in process

Cassandra


Mary Heebner, Cassandra, a poem by Stephen Kessler; images by Mary Heebner ([Santa Barbara, Calif.]: Simplemente Maria Press, MMXIX [2019]). 1 folded sheet (20 panels); approximately 26 x 500 cm folded to 26 x 26 cm + 1 booklet. Copy 10 of 25. Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019 in process

http://www.maryheebner.com/thework/artistsbooks/cassandra/

The illustrations are adapted from the collage series Veiled/Unveiled (2018). The poem is from “Garage Elegies”, Black Widow Press, 2018.

“Design by Simplemente Maria Press. All text is printed letterpress from polymer plates, typeset in Spectrum MT, by John Balkwill, The Lumino Press, Santa Barbara, California. The images are printed digitally, with some debossing on Legacy Etching cotton rag paper. Individual collage and hand-painting is added to each page by the artist.

The booklet containing the poem, colophon and notes on the mythological Cassandra is handsewn with a Legacy etching cover over Saint-Armand handmade cotton paper.

The accordion structure which opens out over 75 inches, and the booklet rest in a zinc box, made by David Shelton Studios, Santa Barbara, California, with a drawing etched on the lid of the powder-coated box by Joel Sherman, at M Studio, University of California, Santa Barbara.”–Colophon.

 

 Cassandra
With your swampy voice, your electric hair,
rhythm of reeds tideswayed in the rivershallows,
sinuous strings, sidemen on the bank keeping the beat,
you sing bad news with a sound of sweet illusions, of doom
that is not a disaster but merely inevitable, what anyone would expect
if they took a deep look at the evidence everywhere, beauty and truth
entwined with death, cruelty on the loose, tenderness barely enduring
under the lash of chaos muted by coercion—those rules
even the stupid can understand—and out of such murky depths
some lovely myth may rise in song to beggar disbelief.
[selection of text]

Interview with Mary Heebner from Atelier Visit on Vimeo.

Louche binding

This book was purchased by the Graphic Arts Collection in small part because the binding was listed as “louche.” Louche is an adjective that describes something of questionable taste or morality while at the same time kind of attractive—ugly/beautiful–; one definition reads “the louche world of the theater.”

It seems apropos of Jim Dine’s consciously informal facsimile of the annotated script and his sketches for a never realized production of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. This is perhaps his most well-known artists’ book and the first of many celebrated volumes from Petersburg Press. Later projects include Foirades by Samuel Beckett and Jasper Johns (1976); The Departure of the Argonaut by Alberto Savinio and Francesco Clemente (1986); Notes in Hand by Claes Oldenburg (1971); Shards by Richard Meier and Frank Stella (1983) and dozens of others.

The Petersburg Press had two incarnations, first in London in 1968 and again in New York in 1972, publishing limited edition prints, livres d’artistes, and artists’ books in collaboration with a list of noted contemporary artists that few presses could rival. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/06/paul-cornwall-jones-obituary Here is the Guardian’s obituary for its founder Paul Cornwall-Jones.

Jim Dine, Picture of Dorian Gray: a working script for the stage from the novel by Oscar Wilde (London: Petersburg Press. 1968). Limited edition, 125/200 signed by Jim Dine. Bound in emerald green velvet over boards with the title blocked in silver on the upper cover. This is edition B of Dine’s three editions of Dorian Gray. The original colour lithographs, etchings and text pages were prepared on zinc and aluminium plates by Jim Dine in February 1968 and subsequently printed on Velin Arches at the Atelier Desjobert and Atelier Leblanc in Paris. It contains twelve lithographs six of which are the signed set issued loose in Editions A and C. This copy lacks the four signed etchings which are called for in the publisher’s notes. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

Endpapers

Playing the weather


Artist Sara Bouchard writes, “Weather Box is a hand-cranked music box, housed in scavenged cardboard and accompanied by 12 punch card scores derived from actual weather data. I obtained hourly reports from the National Climatic DataCenter then graphed changes in temperature, wind and precipitation onto a timeline, which became the foundation for each punch card score. Each score represents one month of weather observations as recorded by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at the Belvedere Castle weather station in Central Park, NYC.”

Weather Box: March 2014 from Sara Bouchard on Vimeo.

When introduced to Professor Beatrice Kitzinger’s class “Arts of the Medieval Book,” who were comparing contemporary artists’ books with traditional codex structures, the students made comparisons to a Medieval book of hours that holds the offices of the canonical hours of the day. In Bouchard’s work, each page or strip activates the various senses in a small, personal reverie: it can be read with its graphic symbols; seen through its visual aesthetics; and heard as a sensory experience.

Sara Bouchard is a “multi-disciplinary artist and songwriter with a strong foothold in American roots. As an artist, I investigate ways to interact with and represent the American landscape through song. As a musician, I perform original and traditional tunes – drawn from bluegrass, old-time, jazz, country and blues – with my band Salt Parade.”– https://sarabouchard.com/

Water Yam

https://music.princeton.edu/events/tim-ruszala-fluxus

It isn’t often that our artists’ books get a performance, but that is the case with the new acquisition of George Brecht’s Water Yam (Fluxus no. C, 1963). At 4:30 on Friday, November 16, 2018, music major Tim Ruszala will present a Junior Paper recital about Fluxus, a radical avant-garde interdisciplinary art movement of the early 1960s.

He writes, “A large part of their corpus consisted of written instructions or short phrases, intended for performance / reflection, and the pieces were often framed in musical terms or had to do with questioning art production and conventions of consumption.” Tim will hold a recital in Theatre Intime of a selection of interesting pieces that he found in this process, including Brecht’s Water Yam.

When the BBC described Water Yam, they noted:

In a series of classes given at the New School for Social Research between 1956 and 1960, John Cage influenced a generation of artists who would develop the performance script into an art form, and lay the ground for Happenings and Fluxus. Having earlier embraced chance compositional procedures as a means of effacing his own likes and dislikes (and, as he put it, ” imitating nature in her manner of operation”), Cage encouraged students who already were using chance in their work – such as George Brecht and Jackson Mac Low – and prompted others – such as Allan Karpow, Dick Higgins and Al Hanson – to do so. And his classroom assignments led to instructions for events and performances that yielded some of the most important intermedia activity of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Out of the Cage class came the kind of event cards for which Fluxus would become well-known, an evocative form whose power is best appreciated in the 1959-66 works of George Brecht published by the movement’s impresario George Maciunas in a box called Water Yam. While most Fluxus event cards are performance scripts, Water Yam also includes instructions for the creation of objects or tableaux–obscure directions whose realization left almost everything to the realizer. In such works as Six Exhibits (“ceiling, first wall, second wall, third wall, fourth wall, floor”) and Egg (“at least one egg”), Brecht applied to objects and physical situations the freedom of execution and openness to serendipity that is the hallmark of a Fluxus performance.

Water Yam, arranged by George Brecht ([New York]: Fluxus, [1963?]). 1 cardboard box with 76 cards. Fluxus ; no. C. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

Ulises Carrión’s Early Books


Guest post by Sarah Hamerman, Poetry Cataloging Specialist

Mexican-born, Amsterdam-based artist, writer and cultural organizer Ulises Carrión (1941-1989) was a key figure in the broadly intercultural development of artists’ books and concrete poetry in the 1970s. Though Carrión achieved early success as a short fiction writer in Mexico, he soon moved away from narrative writing; upon his move to Amsterdam, he adopted a structuralist-inflected interest in linguistic systems and the materiality of the page. The artists’ book would prove an ideal medium for these ideas: in his influential 1975 essay The New Art of Making Books, Carrión champions the book as a “space-time sequence,” rather than a mere container of literary text.

    

Carrión’s earliest artists’ books, or “bookworks,” explore these ideas by playfully questioning the underlying structures of poetry. His first published artists’ book, Sonnets, consists of 44 variations of an appropriated sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Carrión’s often-subtle rewritings of the poem—indicated by titles such as Capital Sonnet, Parenthetic Sonnet, and Echoed Sonnet, highlight the rigorous rhyme scheme and structure dictated by the sonnet form. Self-published on his own mimeograph machine, Sonnets also demonstrates that Carrión’s interest in “making books” was a practical as well as an aesthetic matter.

The approach of Sonnets is further developed in Poesías, an unpublished 1972 typescript which was made available for the first time in a fine 2007 edition by Mexico-based Taller Ditoria. In one poem, Ritmos, Carrión explores rhythm and meter through the repetition of a single syllable, “ta,” and the use of space. This tactic reveals the influence of concrete and sound poetry’s concept of “verbi-voco-visual” expression on Carrión’s work. In another section, Graficas, the stanzas of a poem are conveyed by a graphic representation of their outlines. The author prints five variations of this technique on translucent paper stock, allowing the shapes to overlay and the reader to consider the entire sequence together. While these works adopt a kind of reduced and minimal language, they offer a rich and fascinating approach to the forms through which literature conveys meaning.

Ulises Carrión (1941-1989), Poesías (Ciudad de México: Taller Ditoria, 2007). Graphic Arts RCPXG-5902412

Ulises Carrión (1941-1989), Sonnet(s) (Amsterdam: In-Out Productions, 1972). Carrión’s first artist’s book, dedicated to Raúl Marroquín. Printed in black and white and stapled between clear plastic wraps. Marquand Library PQ7298.13.A73 S65 1972q Oversize

Clavé’s Gargantua

François Rabelais (approximately 1490-1553), Gargantua. Illustrated by Antoni Clavé ([Marseille]: Les Bibliophiles de Provence, 1955). No. 33 of 220 copies printed by Priester freres in Paris. 61 original color lithographs (including 4 double-page and 15 single-page, all hors-texte) + 61 original color woodcuts for lettrines and cul-de-lampe. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018-in process

”… Gargantua (Rabelais), a work to which Clavé brought all his inventiveness of design. Apart from the brilliant color combinations (some involving five to eight separate stones)… Clavé devised a large number of initial letters… Certainly this book lives up to Rabelais’s exhortation ”Vivez joyeux”; it is also Gargantuan in scale with its format”.  [Strachan goes on declaring this work as sequel to Derain’s Pantagruel]. Strachan The Artist & The Book in France, pp. 146 & 329.


The artist is not well known and so, here is an extended biography, https://www.antoni-clave.org/en/biography/

Antoni Clavé was born in Barcelona in 1913. At 13 years of age, and seeking employment, he is hired as an assistant in a textile shop for girdles and corsets. At the same time, he signs up for evening classes at the annex to the Escuela de Artes y Oficios Artísticos y Bellas Artes. As an apprentice house painter with Tolosa, he is attracted by the manual aspect of the work (distemper, primer, glues, and later the mixing of colors). …In April 1940, there is an exhibition at the « Au Sans Pareil » bookstore which is not very successful. In June, the Germans are at Paris’ gates. Clavé intends to leave Paris to make his way to Venezuela but the German tanks have already cut off the roadways and he is obliged to turn back. In 1941, Clavé moves into his first atelier at number 45, rue Boissonnade. His son Jacques is born in 1942 and his own mother moves to Paris. This is an intimate and introspective period for his work where he is influenced by Bonnard and Vuillard. The following year he produces the lithographs as illustrations for Lettres d’Espagne by Prosper Mérimée. In 1944 Clavé meets Picasso, and this encounter will have profound repercussions that will be decisive for the future of his art. His work is exhibited at the Galerie Henri Joly.

In 1946, he travels to Czechoslovakia for an exhibition of Spanish painters in Paris, among whom are Picasso, Borès, Dominquez, Florès, Lobo and Fenosa. He begins work on major set decoration and costumes for the ballet: Los Caprichos for the Ballets des Champs-Elysées (Paris, 1946), Carmen for the Ballets de Paris Roland Petit (Paris, 1949) and Ballabile for Sadler’s Welles Ballet (Covent Garden, London, 1950). His work is also to be found in many illustrated books: La Dame de Pique by Pouchkine and Carmen by Prosper Mérimée in 1946; Voltaire’s Candide in 1948; Gargantua by Rabelais in 1950. This work inspires new subjects and series: The King of Cards, Figures of the Middle Ages and Warriors. Many exhibitions follow: at the Galerie Delpierre in Paris in 1946, at the Anglo-French Art Centre of London in 1947, in 1948 at the Galerie Robert Martin in Oran, Algeria, at Malmö in 1949 and Göteborg, Sweden in 1950.

In 1951, he exhibits at the Galerie Witcomb in Buenos Aires, and in Rome at the Galleria dell’Obelisco, followed by the Galerie Drouant-David in Paris in 1953, at the Galleria del Sole in Milan in 1954 and in London at the Tooth Gallery in 1955. His creations for the theatre are an essential part of his work at this time: La maison de Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca, Festival de Biarritz and the Théâtre de l’Œuvre, Paris, 1951; Revanche, Ballet by Ruth Page, Chicago Opera Ballet, 1951; Don Perlimplin, by Federico García Lorca, Festival du XXe siècle, Paris, 1952 ; Les Noces de Figaro, by Mozart, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 1952 ; Deuil en 24 heures, Ballets de Roland Petit, Paris, 1953. In 1954, Clavé decides to abandon theatre design in order to devote himself to his painting. His final decorative work will be for the set and costumes for La Peur, a ballet by Roland Petit.

See also: https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2011/08/pantagruel.html

Nattini bindings

Volume 3 front cover
The question yesterday was, What is on the back of the Nattini binding?

As first posted in 2011, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to hold one complete bound set of Dante’s Divine Comedy imagined by the artist Amos Nattini (1892-1985), along with one partially unbound set. At 82 cm long and perhaps 20 pound each, these do not move from the shelf often.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Divina Commedia, Imagini di Amos Nattini (Milano: Istituto nazionale dantesco, [1923-1941]). GAX Oversize PQ4302 .F23e. Three volumes; 82 cm. each. 100 color lithographs by Amos Nattini (1892-1985). https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2011/07/amos_nattini.html

In 1921, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, the Istituto nazionale dantesco in Milan commissioned a new, illustrated edition of the poet’s Divine Comedy. The artist chosen for the project was Amos Nattini, who was charged with creating one plate for each canto. For the next twenty years, Nattini worked on his Dante, releasing each of the three volumes are they were completed in 1928, 1936, and finally 1941.

Perhaps because of the length of time between volumes, the first and second are bound with similar designs while the third volume has its own design. Here are the front and back, along with this lovely design for the screws. The books are now heading to conservation for a good cleaning.

Detail of volume 3 back cover.

Volume 3

We are extra fortunate in Princeton, since both the Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study Library are listed as also having sets of Nattini’s Dante. This has not been confirmed in person.

Detail of volume 1 back cover.

Volume 1 back cover

Volume 1 front cover

 

Special thanks go to Mike Siravo who helped to lift volumes.

Books with money


When the British artist Damien Hirst began planning a work of art “with a story running through it” (think artists’ book), his first stop was the United States Treasury. One thousand $100 bills were obtained so the final three digits would correspond to the edition numbers: 000 to 999.

Each bill was rolled and hidden inside Robert Sabbag’s 1976 cult classic Snowblind, a story about the cocaine trade at that time. Hirst bound the books in mirrored boards and added an American Express credit card bookmark. The card is a facsimile, the bill is real.

How many other books come with money? How many libraries leave the money in place?


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired Gertrude Stein’s Money (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973), which comes with a real dollar bill on the cover [above]. The boxed zine North Drive Press #3 (2006) co-edited by Sara Greenberger and Matt Keegan came soon after this, with a dollar bill among the 37 contributions [below].

Can you think of other books with money?

Please send your suggestions to jmellby@princeton.edu.

North Drive Press

Founded by Matt Keegan and Lizzy Lee in 2003, the North Drive Press published its 5th and final issue in 2010. All except one of the annual publications are out-of-print and so, it was a wonderful surprise when #3 and #5 were donated to the Graphic Arts Collection by James Welling. Both issues include work by current and former Princeton University instructors.

The first issue was distributed in a brown vinyl sleeve but when Susan Barber joined the team, the container was switched to a cardboard box. Many texts are now also available online at: http://www.northdrivepress.com/home.html

“…North Drive Press has provided hundreds of artists and arts practitioners with the opportunity to produce and cheaply distribute new works in multiple form. The annual publication has included 7″ records, posters, books, ready-mades, soap, temporary tattoos, photographs, perfume, and more. Interviews and texts—a core part of the project—are conversational, experimental, and available on our website for free download.

For NDP#3 and NDP#4, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, another artist committed to collaboration and artist-produced publications, joined North Drive Press as co-editor. Sara and Matt expanded North Drive Press to include exhibition and print publishing programs—separate from but complementary to the annual NDP publication.

They organized an evening at New York’s performance venue The Kitchen, published a suite of Exquisite Corpse prints, and exhibited at NADA and various other venues.

NDP #5 is a great note to end on: we’ve helped produce a dynamic assortment of artists’ multiples, from temporary tatoos to custom-made soap; and published a varied and compelling collection of interviews, panel discussions, and texts. We hope North Drive Press has added to the long, rich history of innovative, artist-made publications, and we hope our readers will be inspired to continue to investigate the exciting possibilities that non-traditional formats have to offer.”

North Drive Press #3. Work by Matt Keegan; Sara Greenberger Rafferty; Su Barber; Domenick Ammirati; Leslie Hewitt; Fia Backström; Kelley Walker; Frank Benson; Matt Johnson; Walead Beshty; James Welling; AA Bronson; Paul O’Neill; Pablo Bronstein; Anna Craycroft; Champion Fine Art; Lauren Cornell; Lillian Schwartz; Sarah Crowner; Paulina Olowska; Shannon Ebner; Arthur Ou; Lia Gangitano; Lisa Kirk; Sabrina Gschwandtner; Dara Birnbaum; Rebecca Cleman; Ed Halter ([Brooklyn]: North Drive Press, 2006). Gift of James Welling. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018-in process

North Drive Press #5. Work by B’L’ing; Kenneth Goldsmith; Fia Backström; Joseph Logan; Kathrin Meyer; Andreas Bunte; Ann Craven; Amy Granat; Trinie Dalton; Francine Spiegel; Roe Ethridge; Eve Fowler; A.L. Steiner; Luke Fowler; Matt Wolf; Martha Friedman; Heather Rowe; Georg Gatsas; Norbert Möslang; Sam Gordon; B. Wurtz; Matt Hoyt; Jay Sanders; Melissa Ip; Cary Kwok; Matt Kegan; Su Barber ([Brooklyn}; North Drive Press, 2010). Gift of James Welling. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process