Category Archives: Artists’ books

Artists’ books

Buy the Book Painted or Unpainted

If you are on the West Coast, Hauser & Wirth gallery is now open with an exhibition of books by Richard Jackson. The gallery text notes: “Beginning in the early 1970s, lifelong Californian Richard Jackson’s Wall Paintings, Stacks, and Room-themed installations gave rise to a series of landmark innovations in painting, sculpture, performance, installation, and the relations between them. Jackson’s interest in the larger possibilities of artmaking and how it can be done extends to books, as well.”

In 2020, a monograph on Jackson’s life and work was published by Hauser & Wirth, written by John C. Welchman and Dagny Janss Corcoran, which can be purchased from various art book stores. Or you could purchase a painted copy like the one presented in this film “Painted Monograph.” Princeton University Library owns an unpainted copy.

Produced by Dagny Corcoran. Directed by Derek Kinzel. Edited by Zack Campbell.

“On the occasion of ‘Richard Jackson: Works With Books,’ Dagny Corcoran produced a film of Richard Jackson creating a new artwork for the presentation. In ‘Painted Monograph,’ Jackson painted all 480 pages of ‘Richard Jackson,’ the monograph authored by John C. Welchman and with a chronology by Corcoran, released by Hauser & Wirth Publishers in 2020. During the creation of this work, which is itself related an idea Jackson initially conceived in 1977—‘Paint every page of each book, / while still wet stack the books filling a room, / wall to wall, floor to ceiling’—Jackson discusses with Corcoran his philosophies on art, life, and book-making as they relate to the books and printed matter on display.”



John C. Welchman, Richard Jackson ([Zürich]: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, [2020]). Marquand Library use only N6537.J313 W45 2020. Unpainted copy.


Hedi Bak’s Song of Songs

Hedi Bak (born Germany, active United States and Africa, 1927-2010), The Song of Songs which is Solomon’s (Chicago: [Printed and Published by Studio 22 Inc.], 1969. 30 woodcuts. Issued in portfolio. “Thirty original woodcuts by Hedi Bak. 100 copies … numbered and signed 1 to 100 …”. One of 10 artist proof copies on Kumoi paper, a soft Japanese paper which takes fine impressions. (The edition of 100 copies was printed on Rives BFK.) The quotation is from the Holy Scriptures, as used with the permission of the Jewish Publication Society of America. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

With little else to document of life and work of Hedi Bak, here are a few paragraphs from the Bak Art Legacy Project, a virtual museum to present the works of Bronislaw and Hedi Bak.

“Hedi Bak was a prolific printmaker, painter and educator. While working as a conservator at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, she was tasked with printing the first edition of prints from the newly rediscovered illustration blocks of the Luther Bible. Bruno and Hedi’s lives intersected World War II, immigrant life of artists in America – the south and the midwest and in Hedi’s case even Africa.”

“The origins of the project began in 1984, shortly after Hedi Bak suffered a massive stroke and lost her ability to walk. It was only a few years since Bronislaw died unexpectedly from a heart attack, and she was in danger of losing her home and studios right off the campus of Georgia Southern in Statesboro Georgia. With hundreds of works of art in danger, a committee was formed led by many faculty members, friends and neighbors. Clemens Bak, the son of the artists was elected secretary and represented the family. An agreement was struck with the College, to move the work into temporary storage on campus. The Library at Georgia Southern offered to keep Bronislaw’s papers and also ended up with a considerable collection of prints and several paintings. The rest was moved to Atlanta, where Hedi and her sons and their families settled.”

“In the 1960’s [Bak] managed Studio 22 and produced a volume of prints; both her own and in collaboration with Bronislaw. Later, when Bronislaw’s health gave out, the couple moved to Europe where she was employed, doing preservation work at the Gutenburg Museum in Mainz, Germany. In 1972 they returned to America and established studios in Statesboro, Georgia. Hedi continued to teach until 1980. In 1982 the year after her husband died, Hedi suffered a serious stroke while undergoing surgery. Told that she would never walk again, she struggled to regain her life. The next year her youngest son, Pieter died in a car crash.”

“In 1990, Hedi married another very talented artist, Charles Counts, a renowned potter, painter and poet from Tennessee. Charles had been teaching and living in Nigeria for many years. He took his wife back to Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria where he encouraged her to take up writing as well as her art, resulting in two delightful books, many stories and prints from her time in Africa. She spent many of her happiest years of her life with Charles, until he died unexpectedly in 2000.”



This is a biographical video about Bak’s husband Bronislaw.

A biography of her childhood: Hedi Bak, Mazel ([Place of publication not identified] : Rosedog Press, 2005).

Found in The Seed 4, Issue 4 (08-15-1969):

Odysseas Elytes and Costa Coulentianos

Odysseas Elytēs (1911-1996), Θάνατος και ανάστασις του Κωνσταντίνου Παλαιολόγου [= Thanatos kai anastasis tou Kōnstantinou Palaiologou = The Death and Resurrection of Constantine Palaiologus] (Chavannes-sur-Reyssouze, 1971). Blind embossed engravings by Costa Coulentianos (1918-1995). 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 2021- in process


“On May 29, 1453, the Ottoman army, led by Mehmed the Conqueror, seized Constantinople, putting a violent end to one of the longest-lasting empires in history. Along with it, the seizing of the great city also ended the life of the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine Palaiologos.

The legends that sprang up around the Fall of Constantinople are a large part of Christian Orthodox and Hellenic tradition. Even after the liberation from the Ottomans — even today, to be honest — there are Greeks who continue to believe that one day Consntantinople will become Greek once again.”— Greek Reporter July 6, 2020

Nobel Prize winner Odysseas Elytēs (1911-1996) drew on the mythology of Constantine Palaiologus for his epic poem Death and Resurrection of Constantine Paolaiologus, which in turn was the inspiration for the Greek sculptor Costa Coulentianos’ blind embossed artists’ book. Written in modern Greek, printed by Duo d’Art in Switzerland, and published in France, this is truely an international publication.


Μανιφέστο του Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος

Herbert Sandberg (1908-1991), Μανιφέστο του Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος / Χαρακτικά [= Manifesto of the Communist Party = Bilder zum Kommunistischen Manifest] (Κωδικός προϊόντος, unknown). 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 2021- in process.



The Graphic Arts Collection acquired this rare modern Greek edition of the German artist Herbert Sandberg’s satirical manifesto, containing the full text of Karl Marx’s Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848), with graphics by Sandberg. A complete chronology and biography for the artist can be found here:

The artist’s website explains his intentions with this manifesto:

Für viele ein veraltetes Buch mit 7 Siegeln, für einige die gelungene Kapitalismuskritik schlechthin: Das “Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei”. Sandberg, der bereits kapitalistische Lebensverhältnisse selbst miterlebt hatte, wollte mit seinen Decelithschnitten die Gedanken von Marx und Engels aus seiner ganz eigenen Sicht neu anschaulich machen.

Viele der Themen sind heute aktueller denn je. Themen wie “Bourgeoisie und Produktionsmittel”, “Rüstung und Öl” und “Die Proletarier haben nichts zu verlieren als ihre Ketten” haben sicher so manchen Wirtschaftsboss und Politiker in Weißglut gebracht.

Aber keine Angst: die Verblödung der Menschheit geht so rasch vonstatten, dass in einigen Jahren sicher keiner mehr das Buch kennt… Oder ?

A Hepster’s Dictionary

–Music & Lyrics by Al Sherman & Harry Tobias from the film Sensations of 1945.

Cab Calloway (1907-1994 ). The New Cab Calloway’s Cat-ologue: A Hepster’s Dictionary. 2nd revised ed.  ([New York?]: Privately published by the author, 1939). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process


The first Black American musician to sell a million records from a single song, Cab Calloway (1907-1994) was also the first to write a dictionary. Working with his manager, Irvin Mills, Calloway recorded the unique lexicon he and his fellow musicians had developed and published it in June 1938 as Cab Calloway’s Cat-ologue: a Hepster’s Dictionary. It was so successful a second revised edition was published the following year as The New Cab Calloway’s Cat-ologue, with a foreword by Ned E. Williams (managing editor of Downbeat magazine). Seven more editions followed through 1944.

Calloway’s foreword to the 1944 volume began: “Some six years ago I compiled the first glossary of words, expressions, and the general patois employed by musicians and entertainers in New York’s teeming Harlem. That the general public agreed with me is amply evidenced by the fact that the present issue is the sixth edition since 1938 and is the official jive language reference book of the New York Public Library. … Many [words] first saw the light of printer’s ink in Billy Rowe’s widely read column “The Notebook,” in the Pittsburgh Courier.”

He wasn’t kidding. According to the New York Daily News, June 3, 1944, “The New York Public Library announces that it will use Cab Calloway’s Hepsters’ Dictionary as the official jive reference book…”

This wonderful radio program from the BBC will tell you everything:


Armstrongs are the musical notes in the upper register and friskin’ the whiskers means the musicians are warming up. A barbecue is a girl friend and if you need a match you would say, Boot me that match.”

[Newark, Ohio] 17 June 1938: 4.



Calloway and his orchestra played at Princeton many times, but he never left a copy of his dictionary.


Minneapolis Tribune 18 June 1944: 32.



Julio Plaza and Augusto de Campos

Julio Plaza (1938-2003), Objetos Serigrafias Originais; Augusto de Campos Poema (São Paulo: Julio Pacello, 1968-69). Illustrated book with poem and ten cut-and-folded screen prints. Copy VI of 30 ex. FC (outside the trade). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021-in process


In the late 1960s, the Brazilian artist Julio Plaza began experimenting with cut and folded paper. “There was the idea of breaking with plastic form and advancing into space,” he remembered. Various models were developed working on stiff white paper, which would eventually be screen printed in bright primary colors.

Augusto de Campos was brought in to write a critical essay as the forward to whatever this book project was going to be but instead, he chose to write concrete poetry integrated into Plaza’s moving shapes. Published as Objetos, these were in fact the first poemóbiles. Plaza and de Campos continued to work on various projects throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Caixa Preta and many editions of Poemóbiles.




The pages of Objetos are folded and placed inside a colorful slipcase, allowing for the exhibition of individual sheets alone or in multi-layer groups. Although they are usually photographed as perfectly symmetrical geometric forms, they can be seen at a variety of stages of opening or closing, from a variety of angles.

Other projects in paper architecture include Abracadabra by Werner Pfeiffer, Dieter Roth’s Book AC 1958-1964 and various projects by the Dutch graphic artist and resistance fighter Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman, all available in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton.








Purvis Young, “People Whit Something To Do”

“Perhaps the most famous painter to ever come out of Florida,” writes Deirdra Funcheon, Washington Post 1/8/2020, “Young had depicted the struggles and joys of Miami’s poor black community and was branded an ‘outsider artist’.” When he died in 2010, he left 1,884 works of art.

Photograph by David A. Raccuglia

It is no longer correct to classify the African American artist Purvis Young (1943-2010) as an Outsider Artist. His work is owned and exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, along with dozens of other major collections, public and private, around the world. In 2018 the artist was posthumously inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

Self-taught might be a better term, although Young credits the Florida public libraries and their collections of art books as his teachers. And so it is appropriate that one of his unique artists’ books be added to the Graphic Arts collection in Firestone Library. Like his paintings, the volume is made of found material–a repurposed book–crammed with multi-colored pages, collaged drawings, and personal symbolism. A handwritten title reads: People Whit Something To Do, with various pages dated 1981-1988.


A wonderful full-length documentary Purvis of Overtown was produced by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in 2012 and can be viewed here: On March 5, at 12:00 noon EST, Raina Lampkins-Fielder, curator at Souls Grown Deep will deliver the 2021 Griffin Memorial Lecture at Princeton University (through zoom) and tell us more about the Atlanta-based nonprofit that documents, preserves, and showcases art by African-American artists of the American South. Register for the event here:



“I been drawing all my life, but I taught myself to paint in the early seventies. I seen people protesting. I seen the war going on. Then I found out how these guys paint their feelings up North, paint on walls. Wall of Respect. That’s when I start painting like that. I didn’t have nothing going for myself. That’s the onliest thing I could mostly do. I was just looking through art books, looking at guys painting their feelings. The first things I painted were heads with halos around them.”

“I started out about 1971 in Goodbread Alley. I wanted to express my own feeling. I wanted the peoples to see it. I put my paintings on a lot of fronts of abandoned buildings. They was fixing to tear them down and build an expressway. I knowed when I was making the art that one day it was going to go. Nothing’s going to last forever.”– Taken from interviews with Purvis Young by William Arnett and Larry Clemons in 1994 and 1995.




In our continuing effort to broaden Princeton’s collection of books by the Chilean-born visual poet Guillermo Deisler (1940-1995), who was imprisoned in 1973 under the Pinochet government before being exiled, the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired GRRR.

This is a reissue of Deisler’s artists’ book made in Antofagasta (Chile) in 1969, under the imprint Ediciones Mimbre (1963-1973). The current edition is produced by Naranja Publicaciones: “after 50 years of its first publication, 500 copies were made that maintain the narration of the original and different printing techniques such as risography, letterpress, screen printing and stamping have been mixed.” Naranja is a book store, publisher, and specialized collection of artists’ books located in Santiago:

See other publications by Deisler:


Guillermo Deisler, GRRR (Santiago, Chile: Naranja Publicaciones, 2019). One of 500 copies. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2021- in process


Maria Veronica San Martin, DIGNIDAD, 2020, performance, 07:48 mins. Watch below:

Maria Veronica San Martin is a Chilean-born artist that has resided in the United States since 2010. Her work and her art interests lie primarily in orienting the collective memory of the Chilean population towards the injustices committed under various Chilean regimes, particularly the Pinochet regime and the cruelties committed towards those living in Colonia Dignidad (renamed to Villa Baveria in 1991). San Martin’s art consists of archival works, photographs, etchings, lithographs, and more in a broader pursuit for political progress. She hopes that one day Chile and the Chilean people will unite as one against the injustices they’ve faced. One of the vehicles to get there, especially to Maria Veronica San Martin, is through the use of art as a tool for activism. Through art, she seeks to shed light on human rights abuses and broaden people’s understanding of what it is that has historically happened and has continued to happen in Chile.–

“Dignidad is an artist’s book that documents a two years research-based project on Colonia Dignidad, which highlights the human rights violations committed in an isolated settlement established in the 1960s by Nazis in Chile before and after the dictatorship of Pinochet.”

“‘Everything will be remembered’, a palimpsest” by Ravikumar Kashi

Ravikumar Kashi, ‘Everything will be remembered’ a palimpsest. Bangalore, India, 2020. Unique edition. Etched copper plate filled with printing ink, copper wire. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection is honored to acquire Ravikumar Kashi’s ‘Everything will be remembered’ a palimpsest, one of four finalist for the 2020 Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) Prize, selected by juror Betty Bright from 158 submissions sent from 18 countries. “Established in 2009, this biennial award is meant to represent the diversity of approaches to book art, honoring one winner and four finalists for their unity of form, material, and content.”

Born in Bangalore, India, Ravikumar Kashi ( studied painting, printmaking, and papermaking under masters in India, Scotland, and Korea. He received a National award from Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi in 2001 and two awards from Karnataka Lalita Kala Academy 1990, 1999 and one from Karnataka Shilpa Kala Academy for his works in 2000. He has also received first prize in ‘Ventipertrenta’, International Festival of Digital Art 2017, from Museo Internazionale Dinamico de Arte Contemporanea, Italy.


Note: “The type face of the second layer of the text is an English font called Samarkan, designed to look like a Sanskrit text, and is intended to act as a visual marker for the Indian right-wing practice of quoting ancient texts to gain validation. It is also a simulation of ancient handwritten palm leaf text manuals from India.”


Here is a portion of his artist statement for MCBA, beginning with the background for the work:

On 30th May 2019, the Indian right wing party BJP led by Mr. Narendra Modi formed the central government for a second time. Its election campaign was replete with anti- Muslim rhetoric and sloganeering. That same year, on the 12th of December, the Government of India enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In the weeks following, nationwide protests calling for the repealing the CAA and the foregoing of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was supposed to precede CAA, were held….

In early 2020, following speeches given by BJP leaders inciting their followers to attack and shoot anti-CAA protesters, riots occurred in North-Eastern Delhi. Beginning on 23 February, and caused chiefly by Hindu mobs attacking Muslims, there were multiple waves of bloodshed, property destruction, and rioting. Of the 53 people killed in three days, two-thirds were Muslims who were shot, beaten, or set on fire in the Indian capital’s deadliest Hindu-Muslim riot since 1950. …

The Work Concept:

My work is a combination of copper plates used historically for documentation and the idea of palimpsest.
Copper plates: In the Madras Museum, located in southern part of India, a series of copper plates from as early as 4th century AD have been preserved and displayed. These copper plates recorded various events of their time for posterity.
Palimpsest: a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing; something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.

In the light of anti-CAA protests and Delhi riots, I wanted to create a copper plate palimpsest for my time , so that the erasure of our constitutional values will not be forgotten.

There are two layers of text in the work. In the partially erased layer seen beneath, is the preamble to the Indian Constitution, declaring its claim to secure justice, liberty, and equality to all citizens, and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation. That layer is being eroded, and replaced with textual details of Delhi riots, narrating the incidents of murder and rampage. There are Slogans of violence like “We will enter the house and beat you up” or “Shoot the traitors”.

…The title for the work ‘Everything will be remembered’ comes from the title of the poem written by anti-CAA activist Aamir Aziz, lines of which were also recently recited by [Roger Waters] of Pink Floyd:

A section of “Everything will be remembered” by Amir Aziz.

Tum Raat Likho Hum Chand Likhenge,
Tum Jail Mein Dalo Hum Deewar Phand Likhenge,
You could write the night, but we will write the moon.
If you put us in jail, we would jump over the walls and still write.

Tum FIR Likho Hum Hain Taiyar Likhenge,
Tum Humein Qatl Kar Do Hum Banke Bhoot Likhenge,
Tumhare Qatl Ke Sare Saboot Likhenge,
If you would lodge an FIR against us, we are all set to write about the injustice we are suffering from.
If you murder us, we will come as the ghosts and still write. We will write mentioning the proofs unveiling the murders you have committed.
We will write mentioning the proofs unveiling the murders you have committed.

…Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega, Sab Kuch Yad Rakha Jayega,
Aur Tumhari Laathiyon Aur Goliyon Se,
Jo Qatl Huwe Hain Mere Yaar Sab,
Unki Yaad Mein Dilon Ko Barbaad Rakha Jayega,
We will remember everything. We will not forget it at all.
The dearest friends of mine who you murdered with lathis (or sticks) & bullets;
In the remembrance of them, we will keep our hearts broken-down. …

Additional reading: Indian antiquary. Bombay, Popular Prakashan [etc.]