Category Archives: Artists’ books

Artists’ books

Graphic MoMA

[left] Book shelves as wall paper.

A first look at the rehung MoMA revealed a surprising number of works on paper, lettrism, fluxus, artists’ books, visual poetry, and other graphic arts. Beginning with the major exhibitions such as Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, there are more than the usual number of letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs of text, in and among the oil on canvas.

“The Museum of Modern Art will open its expanded campus on October 21, 2019, with a reimagined presentation of modern and contemporary art.

The expansion, developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, adds more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces and enables the Museum to exhibit significantly more art in new and interdisciplinary ways.

The Studio in the heart of the Museum will feature live programming and performances that react to, question, and challenge histories of modern art and the current cultural moment. …Street-level galleries, free and open to all on the expanded ground floor, will better connect the Museum to New York City and bring art closer to people on the streets of midtown Manhattan.”

Here are a few examples:

Mirtha Dermisache, Augusto de Campos, et al. Visual poetry.


Dieter Roth (1930-1998), Literature Sausage, 1969. Artists’ proof.

Various artists, Fluxkit, 1965-66. Designed and assembled by George Maciunas.

Mira Schendel (1919-1988), untitled from Objetos graficos, 1967.




Finishing touches in the Frank O’Hara room

Wall corner note


Waldemar Cordeiro, et al., Manifesto Ruptura, 1952.


Lygia Pape (1927-2004), Livro da criação  (Book of Creation), 1958-1960.


The Black Factory Archive, 2004-


KWY: Revista trimestrial d’arte actual (Paris, [publisher not identified], [1958-1963]. No 1-12. French, English, and Portuguese. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019 in process.

The Graphic Arts Collection, along with our colleagues in Art history and French literature, recently acquired a complete run of the rare serial KWY. Each issue was editioned differently: no. 2 is a limited edition of 50 copies; no. 3 a limited edition of 85 copies; no. 4 a limited edition of 100 copies; no. 5 signed in pencil on back cover: 73/134; no. 6 a limited edition of 500 copies; no. 7-12 each a limited edition of 300 copies. Our no.1 is a facsimile while all the rest are original as issued.

A truly international publication, KWY was produced mainly with serigraphs and letterpress by Portuguese artists Lourdes Castro, René Bertholo, Antonio Costa Pinheiro, João Vieira, José Escada and Gonçalo Duarte and by Bulgarian Christo and the German Jan Voss. These artists gathered in Paris under the title “Le groupe KWY” focusing primarily on the production of the magazine from 1958 and 1964.

According to one source, the name KWY was chosen because these are the three letters that rarely appear in Portuguese words.

Various movements have been connected with this group, including Portuguese figuration and New Realism, the Fluxus spirit, the Spanish group El Paso and the lyricists and the experiences of the sound poetry. Issues also include work by António Areal, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Bernard Heidsieck, Yves Klein, and Jorge Martins, among others.


Furtwängler’s The Raven

Felix Martin Furtwängler and Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven. Pictopoesien Supplement: Peter Jelavich, Terror of the Soul ([Wiesbaden]: Harrasowitz in Kommission, 2018 (Berlin: Privat Presse)). Artist’s book, one-time edition, 99 numbered and signed copies, with an enclosed essay by Peter Jelavich, Terror of the Soul (primary publication). Graphic Arts collection GAX N-001958

Since 1975, Felix Martin Furtwängler has been publishing hand-printed copies, artist’s books, and book objects. “Inspiration and basis for his pictures, graphics and colored figures-and-letters collages are his own and literary texts, with texts and pictures forming a symbiosis. He works with different graphic techniques such as woodcut and linocut as well as etching, combining them and experimenting with painting over them. With his painting books and graphic works, Felix Martin Furtwängler is present in far more than one hundred collections worldwide.”

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s narrative poem “The Raven,” Furtwängler designed and created this folding and folding book of a special kind. The prospectus notes,”Graphic illustrations by the author accompany the text, paper cuts and pop-up forms lend a three-dimensional shape and vivacity to the words. …The work was printed on a Roland 700, using the offset printing process. It was typeset manually, using the scripts Schwabach Due Mille, Las Vegas medium, Futura medium, Futura bold, Lucida Blackletter regular, Neue Helvetica medium and Special Elite regular, while each of the 14 Pantone colors on the machine was individually modulated and mixed by the artist. The paper Furtwängler chose is 200 g/qm Tintoretto Gesso wood-free white felt-marked, with a classical hand-made paper structure by Fedrigoni.”

“Thereafter, the artist cut each single leaf by hand, grooved and folded them. The folded single leaves were collected into sewing layers by hand, sewn with open thread-stitching with triple cross-stitch and fitted between two book covers made of 2.2 mm thick book binding board, covered by blue Hansa linen and embossed with white hot-foil embossing on the front cover and a printed ending paper made of 200 g/qm Tintoretto Gesso.”


See also the exhibition catalogue:
Felix Martin Furtwängler: printing into thinking: Folgen, Suiten, Zyklen / [Redaktion, Walter Kurz … [et al.] ; Kataloggestaltung, Felix Martin Furtwängler] (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, in Kommission; Wolfenbüttel: Herzog August Bibliothek; Mainz: Gutenbergmuseum, [2009]). Marquand Library Oversize NE654.F84 A4 2009q. Catalog of an exhibition held at the Kunsthalle Erfurt, Aug. 16-Sept. 27, 2009. “Eine Auswahl der Radierungen aus dem Archiv des Künstlers ergänzt durch Werke aus privater Hand und einer öffentlichen Sammlung “

Homer’s “Odyssey” and Owen’s “Sing to Me”

We hosted a visit this week from Professor Reeves’s class “The Classical Roots of Western Literature,” which focuses on the classics of the Western literary tradition from Antiquity through the medieval period, including Apollonius of Rhodes’s Jason and the Argonauts, Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, Dante’s Inferno and others.  This week they read The Odyssey and so, we focused on the calligraphic work of Jan Owen’s “Sing to Me” with text by Homer.

The group had so many questions about the work, donated to the Graphic Arts Collection by Lynne Fagles, that an email was sent directly to the artist. The wonderful Ms. Owen replied immediately with an explanation of how the work came about and the inspiration for her interest in calligraphy. Here are a few of her words.

In 1997, I was invited to participate in Perspectives, the Art of the Book at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, ME. That fall, I got a call from Lynne Fagles who said her husband had seen and liked my work and would I do a piece with words from his new translation as a Christmas present. I had read excerpts of The Odyssey in high school so began to read. I asked her to help me select text and she sent some of his favorite passages, which I marked and posted in my copy of the book. She had also asked that Greek text be included and this was before everything could be found on the web. Fortunately a local theological school had a copy of The Odyssey in Greek.

Several years before the Portland show, I’d wanted to work large on paper but not have to frame under glass. I experimented with hanging accordion fold books and liked the relief of the form. After doing several, they seemed to look ‘old’ and I began weaving in strips of gold painted paper, now Tyvek, to give texture to the surface and to be like a new communication code. The little basketmaker’s twist gives the strips dimension but can still fold flat. The weaving was also a fitting reference for The Odyssey. The ink changes color to give more variety—and to try to keep doing something a computer can’t do. Robert Fagles gave me permission to use the translation and I’ve included passages in several pieces [in addition to Sing to Me].

NY Art Book Fair 2019

2019 Art Book Fair

Ariane Mayer, Poèmes à brûler [Poems to Burn] (Paris: Lairie un regard modern, no date).

The cigarette package is handmade with images from 1950s magazines. The individual cigarettes are rolled poems.

Till the Last Gasp, A Graphzine History 1975-2005. Three hundred zines, books, and posters from a largely undocumented movement of independent artists’ books and fanzine publications called Graphzines, which emerged in France beginning in 1975.

Sable Elyse Smith and Cal Siegel, In that Empire (New York: Pacific City, 2019)

… In that Empire is a conversation, an experimental cartography bound by each initial decision. Jorge Luis Borges’ story “On Exactitude in Science” frames the encounter: each “L” and “R” within the text creates a list of sixty-one positions. Using these directionals, the artists took sixty-one photos in West Newbury, Massachusetts and Harlem, New York, respectively. The reader is invited to access the book through multiple entry points, from front to back, in any order. No matter the beginning, a turn of the page becomes an act of continuing the conversation of experimental cartography established in the making of this book.


Nothing about this edition of Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatlands is flat.



The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired “a fantastical satire set in a two dimensional world peopled by plane geometrical figures, & an early classic of science-fiction: Flatland, a romance of many dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott, with a new introduction by Ray Bradbury, produced in an accordion-fold format, with diagrams, unusual typographic arrangements, and handcolored cutout illustrations devised by Andrew Hoyem, & printed in an edition limited to 275 copies…”–prospectus.


“This book has been produced in a novel form to suit its extraordinary theme. The acordion-fold format, borrowed from oriental bookmaking, is here used to show the perspective of the plane-geometrical character who tells the story, A Square.

Thus, the volume will open out flat to display text and illustrations on a long, continuous sheet. The paper panels (rather than pages) are 7 by 14 inches, stretching to 33 feet per side. A pair of panels forms a square which can be held in th lap to read in the conventional manner of the occidental book. For the second half of the novel, the book must be turned over to read the backside. The volume can also be laid out on a table to expose several panels at once.

For display purposes, the accordion can stand upright, spread to zig-zag over small or large areas, or can be expanded to its full length for wall exhibition. …The covers are made of clear anodized aluminum with the title and the author’s symbolic square silkscreened in epoxy=resin ink for permanency.”

Original prospectus and advertising materials included.

Versado y de Larga Duración

“Y porque estamos vivos, Ismael,
aunque carguemos con la muerte
de los otros,
es que sigue sonando,
aquí en el alma,
esa campana de esperanza,
para ti,
para mí,
y todo el bonche…” Dinorah Marzán, Versado y de larga duración (1987)

“And because we are alive, Ismael,
even though we carry with the death
of others,
the bell of hope,
keeps sounding,
here, in our soul,
for you,
for me,
and for all of us…” Dinorah Marzán, Versado y de larga duración (1987)

translation from César Colón-Montijo, Specters of Maelo: An Ethnographic Biography of Ismael ‘Maelo’ Rivera, 2018 theses:

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired the facsimile reissue of the artists’ book written by Dinorah Marzán in 1987 mourning the Afro-Puerto Rican singer Ismael “Maelo” Rivera, edited by César Colón-Montijo, who has recently joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese as a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University.

Versado y de larga duración is a book and collection of loose items inside a cardboard album sleeve.  On the cover is the reproduction of a portrait of Maelo, with an image of Dinorah and Maelo on the back cover. The Versado pages include a photocopied collage of verses, pictures of Maelo, images of virgins and saints, Calm Street, the Sacred Heart, and more. Rather than a box, the volume is housed in a painted paperbag.

Listen to: Rafael Cortijo, Baile con Cortijo y su combo con Ismael Rivera [sound recording] = Dance with Cortijo and his Combo with Ismael Rivera. Recorded in New York, January 10, 1958 ; and in Puerto Rico, February 14, 1958 (North Bergen, N.J. : Seeco, 1993). Mendel Music Library CD 35374

Oficina Perambulante

Although you will not find any listed in OCLC, the Argentine books edited, constructed, and published by Carlos Ríos through his imprint Oficina Perambulante are numerous. Their format is consistent: each volume 10 x 7 cm, 16 pages, and a cardboard cover from found materials. Don’t look for them in the bookstores around Buenos Aires or elsewhere, Ríos prefers to sell (or give) them directly from his backpack. Where he is, there are his books.

Here is a small section of a conversation between Luciana Caamaño and Carlos Ríos (loosely translated to English):
LC: How did the Oficina Perambulante come about?
CR: A long time ago I was playing with some formats, after Ediciones el Broche, my first editorial experience. I really like editorial work. The Oficina Perambulante emerged as a need to edit and also make books. . . . every person who writes should have to go through the experience of making books, their own books.

I am very concerned about the price of books, people can’t afford to buy them because they need that money for other things. I make inexpensive booklets that can be bought by anyone. In addition these books have an exceptional character. I lost count of the number of copies I made.

It is a press I carry with me, I can load the items to make the books and make them anywhere; As I walk through the streets, I gather cardboard for the covers of the books, the glossy American cardboard. It is a space of maximum freedom, writing a story in the morning and by night the book is ready to be released. . . The books are with me, carried in my backpack, and if I am not there, there are no books. I tried leaving some in bookstores but it doesn’t work, it works with me, sold where I am.

The Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a small number of Oficina Perambulante volumes:
Amé Dieciocho Veces Pero Recuerdo Sólo Tres by Silvina Ocampo, no date
Bing by Samuel Beckett [1966], no date
Biografía by Carlos Ríos, 2016
Calandria by Sergio Chejfec, 2018
Cuando Nada Pasa Hay un Milagro que no Estamos Viendo by Daniel Sada [1987], no date
El Dedo del Maniquí by Carlos Ríos, 2016
El Día que Fuimos Perros by Elena Garro [1964], no date
El Dogo del Amor by Carlos Ríos, 2016
El Mes de las Moscas by Sergio Chejfec, no date
“En qué to han transformado, Daniel?” by Carlos Ríos, 2016
Sobre la Dificultad de Leer translated by E. Kavi, by Giorgio Agamben, 2016
Un Relato Infantil by Carlos Ríos, 2016
Una Noche, Senté a Donald J. Trump en Mis Rodillas, [Carlos Rios?], 2017
Una Obra, Un Museo by Carlos Ríos, 2016

See also some of the books from the Eloísa Cartonera, and the Ediciones el Mandrugo:

Many more are listed online:

大野友資 (Yusuke Oono) and the 360° Book

Ōno, Yūsuke, Earth and the Moon = Chikyū to tsuki / Sakamoto, Kazuko, translator; Takebayashi, Kazushige ; designer. Third edition (Kyōto: Seigensha, 2018). Graphic Arts Collection

From the publisher:

The 360°BOOK is a new revolutionary format that enables the artist to create a panoramic three-dimensional world. The book opens and expands into a dynamic circle of pages. Each page is finely crafted works of art, drawing the viewer from a scene of two dimensions to a three-dimensional world/diorama.

Yusuke Oono was born in Germany in 1983 and graduated from The University of Tokyo where he obtained both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture. He is the recipient of the Art Directors Club of New York and has received many other awards. He works primarily as an architect but is also active in other related fields including interior product design and art installation.


The Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS) is once again hosting members of the academic and artistic communities of Puerto Rico as visitors at Princeton University in summer 2019. The program continues to provide relief to scholars, students, and artists affected by the catastrophic aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 by allowing them to continue their work at Princeton on a temporary basis.

The VISAPUR program provides a range of support including a stipend to cover living expenses, office space, access to libraries and other scholarly material, and an opportunity to engage with colleagues at Princeton.

Endorsed by the Princeton Task Force on Puerto Rico, PLAS manages the program with co-sponsorship from the Office of the Provost. Additional support has been provided by, the Firestone Library, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Office of the Dean of the College, Graduate School, Office of the Registrar, and Housing and Real Estate Services. Special thanks to professor emeritus Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, former PLAS director and professor of Spanish and Portuguese, for his leadership and commitment to the project.

See pictures from last year’s program also:

Among the many treasures pulled to show our visitors was this new acquisition: Luis Lloréns Torres (1876-1944), Valle de Collores; grabados por Consuelo Gotay (Puerto Rico: Gotay, 1991). “Trabajaron en la tipografía, la impresión y la encuadernación, Consuelo Gotay, Rafael Orejuela, and Víctor Rodríguez Gotay.” Copy 44 of 100. Inscribed to Arcadio Díaz Quiñones from the artist. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process