Category Archives: Artists’ books

Artists’ books

The Valise

Latin American Studies and the Graphic Arts Collection are collaborating on the purchase of the limited edition publication La valija (The Valise), which was unveiled Tuesday night at the Museum of Modern Art. The collective artists’ project unites seven South American artists—Johanna Calle (Bogotá, Colombia), Matías Duville (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Maria Laet (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Mateo López (Bogotá, Colombia), Nicolás Paris (Bogota, Colombia), Rosângela Rennó (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), and Christian Vinck Henriquez (Maracaibo, Venezuela)—with the Argentine writer César Aria.

The artists created over 50 original artworks responding to Aria’s novel Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter), which follows the German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas’s 1837 journey through South America.

Designed to fit in a special valise, the works include original prints, maps, artist’s books, airmail envelopes, origami toys, posters, a sound recording, and a hand blown glass sculpture, all reflecting the artists’ shared affinity for geography, travel literature, and book-making.








To celebrate the publication of The Valise, Aria gave a private reading for members of the Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art. He told the audience that he had wanted to be a painter but now paints with his words. Rejecting computers, Aria said he prefers to write using a fountain pen (he has an extensive collection) on good heavy paper.







For more information on this project, see

The novelist was recently profiled in The New Yorker to mark the publication of Ema the Captive, his 13th novel in English. See: Alena Graedon, “César Aira’s Infinite Footnote to Borges,” The New Yorker, January 27, 2017

Alpha Beta

Ines von Ketelhodt, Alpha Beta. Text by Michel Butor (Flörsheim am Main: I. v. Ketelhodt, 2017). Two volumes, in French and German. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2017- in process

Investigating the visual and conceptual structure of the printed page, Alpha Beta is designed, printed, and bound by the German artist Ines von Ketelhodt. Her matrix is the writing of Michel Butor (1926-2016), a French novelist whose experiments with narrative and structure put him at the forefront of the literary trend known as le nouveau roman (the new novel).

Von Ketelhodt has letterpress printed a passage in which Butor offered a portrait of a universal library: Itinéraire: les bibliothèques. In the first volume, it is in Butor’s original French and in the second volume, it has been translated into German. Each letter of the alphabet is confined to one transparent page so that, as the pages are turned, a single letter disappears throughout. By the end, only the punctuation remains on the right, with Butor’s text in reverse on the left.

Transparency is at the core of this volume, printed from polymer plates on to cellophane sheets and housed in a plexiglass slipcase. The text is fluid, both in its narrative and here, even in its physical format. Here is the French text:

Rangés dans leurs casiers comme des bouteilles les volumes fermentent à l’intérieur de la grande cave aux lampadaires doux sur les fronts ridés ou bouclés qui se penchent dans le déchiffrement de leurs annotations. Par ici les dictionnaires, l’espalier des langues; dans cette galerie les cristallisations des sonnets et des haïku, la joaillerie des ballades. On ouvre une grille et c’est la haute salle de lecture avec ses verrières qui répercutent les somnolences, les feuillettements, les émerveillements. Comme une vrille de volubilis la longue phrase s’entortille autour de la rambarde qui longe les balcons des romans-fleuves avec leurs péniches de familles, d’héritages, d’affrontements, d’effondrements, d’écoeurements et de baisers. Plus loin les rayons de l’Histoire Naturelle avec les herbiers et les flores; les oiseaux, s’envolant quand on tourne les pages, virent autour des colonnes de fer, effleurent les crânes et reviennent dormir dans leur volière de cuir ou de toile; les rugissements des fauves et le passage des poissons devant ces fenêtres d’aquarium.

Here are two possible English translations I have found for this complex text:

Placed in their lockers like bottles, the volumes ferment inside the large cellar with soft lamps on the wrinkled or curled fronts that lean in the decipherment of their annotations. Here the dictionaries, the espalier of languages; In this gallery the crystallizations of sonnets and haiku, the jewelry of ballads. It opens a grid and it is the high reading room with its stained glass that reverberates drowsiness, leaflets, wonders. Like a twist of volubilis the long sentence is wrapped around the railing that runs alongside the balconies of the novels-rivers with their barges of families, inheritances, confrontations, collapses, disgustings and kisses. Further on are the rays of Natural History, with herbals and floras; The birds fly away when they turn the pages, look round the iron columns, brush their skulls and come back to sleep in their leather or canvas aviaries; The roar of the wild beasts and the passage of fish in front of these aquarium windows.

Arranged like bottles on their shelves, the volumes age in the large cellar, soft lamps hovering over creased or ringleted foreheads lowered in their attempts to decipher the comments. Here are the dictionaries, the espaliers of languages; in that aisle over there, the crystalline sonnets and haikus, the gemlike ballads. Opening a grating, you find yourself in a lofty reading room with a glass ceiling that reflects back the drowsiness, the leafing, the ecstasies. Like a climbing plant, the long sentence twines around the railing that runs along the galleries of the Romans-fleuves with their barges full of families, inheritances, conflicts, collapses, wearinesses and kisses. A bit farther on: the natural history shelves with their plant posters and flora; the birds that fly upward when you turn the pages and circle around the iron columns, touch their skulls and then return to their leather and linen aviaries to sleep; the beasts of prey roaring and the fish gliding by the aquarium windows.


See also Vieira da Silva (1908-1992), Vieira da Silva: peintures. Includes Butor’s Itineraire (p. 7-19) (Paris: L’Autre musée, 1983).

Live Dog / Evil God

Born in Minnesota, Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) moved with his family to Sacramento, California, where he began studying painting with Wayne Thiebaud. Although Scholder was one-quarter Luseino, a California Mission tribe, he grew up outside the native American community and only later began to explore this cultural heritage, bringing to it a unique perspective.

In 1970, Tamarind Institute invited Scholder to Albuquerque to create a suite of lithographs he called, Indians Forever. From that time on, Scholder would be a major influence for his generation of native American artists.

Afternoon Nap was published in 1991, the first in a series of book projects by Nazraeli Press, Munich, followed in 1992 with Live Dog / Evil God in a limited edition of 50 copies. Nazraeli was founded in 1989 by Chris Pichler, specializing in books of photography. Scholder created ten cliche-verres or glass plate negatives for the book that were printed as kallitypes by James Hajicek. These were reproduced in duotone lithograph by Fabe Litho in Tucson, Arizona.

Pichler also published Scholder’s 1993 exhibition catalogue with an essay by Edward Lucie-Smith for the Riva Yares Gallery (SA ND237.S31 L824 1993). This review of Scholder’s 2015 exhibition at the Denver Art Museum brings the artist’s work up to date.

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005), Live Dog / Evil God (Munich and Tucson: Nazraeli Press, 1992). Copy 44 of 50. Includes a suite of ten original prints. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process



“ONEEVERYONE, a public art project by Ann Hamilton, is framed by the recognition that human touch is the most essential means of contact and a fundamental expression of physical care. Commissioned by Landmarks for the Dell Medical School, ONEEVERYONE begins with a series of more than 500 portraits of Austin community members, photographed through a semi-transparent membrane that focuses each point where the body make contact. These images are presented in multiple forms, including porcelain enamel architectural panels; a newsprint publication with commissioned essays responding to the project; public forums; and an exhibition at the Visual Arts Center.”—Andrée Bober, Landmarks Director

“This book presents yet another form for the portraits. Its pages hold at least one image of each participant who volunteered their time and opened themselves to an exchange with the artist. Through the images touch–something we feel more than see–becomes visible.”


The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired this volume, along with the newspaper of commissioned essays, thanks to Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. For more information on this extraordinary project, see



Ann Hamilton, ONEEVERYONE (Austin, Texas: Landmarks, University of Texas at Austin, 2017). 1 volume (unpaged): no text. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process


The Language of the Lament

Lynne Avadenka. Lamentations = Ekhah. Lamentations = איכה (Huntington Woods, Mich.: Land Marks Press, 2009). Copy 8 of 8. “This edition of Lamentations was created with woodcuts, photopolymer plate printing and stencils, and letterpress printed with Centaur and Koren types on Yamada Hanga cream paper”–Colophon. Housed in a cloth-covered oblong clamshell box, which has a woodblock inset on its top. Text of the book of Lamentations in Hebrew, with English translation from the Jewish Publication Society: leaves [3-12]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

Additional digital images available at:

Colophon [above]: “Echoes, reverberations, multiplicities, repeats: the long narrow sheet – a scroll unrolled – like the original Book of Lamentations; prints from wood, the same material from which houses are built, with traces of home cut out: doors, windows, openings; orbits linked and overlapped, inked and overprinted, suggesting absence, presence, and interconnected lives.”



Many other versions of the Lamentations are available in the Princeton University Library, including: Sefer Ḳol bikhyi: reʼu zeh ḥadash ḳetsat ḥidushim ʻal sefer Iyov… ṿe-ʻimo nilṿeh sefer Metsudat Daṿid le-vaʼer ʻinyana . . . / Raḥamim Bukhrits (Liṿorno: Sh. Belforṭe, 657 [1897]). Rare Books (Ex) BS1415 .K642 1897

We also hold a number of artists’ books featuring Jewish themes. Here are only a few:
Sue Coe, X (with Art Spiegelman). Design by Françoise Mouly (New York: Raw Books & Graphics, 1986). Rare Books (Ex) N6797.C55 A4 1986 Milberg
Mark H. Podwal, A Sweet Year: a Taste of the Jewish Holidays (New York: Random House Children’s Books, 2003). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-2542N
Carol Rosen, The Holocaust Series. XXI, We All Disappear ([Califon, N.J.?: C. Rosen, 2004?]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2014-0939Q
Paul Auster, Reflections on a Cardboard Box; Drawings Henrik Drescher ([Mt. Horeb, Wis.]: Perishable Press, 2004).Rare Books (Ex) 2005-2248N
D.R. Wakefield, Pugilistica Judaica: Jewish Prize-fighters in London 1785-1840 ([East Yorkshire]: Chevington Press, 2006).Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0022F
Art Spiegelman, Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young [squiggle][star]! 1st rev. ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 2008). Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 2008-0492Q
Lynne Avadenka, Plum Colored Regret (Huntington Woods, Mich.: Land Marks Press, 2010). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2011-0060Q
Sarah Horowitz, Alpha Botanica ([Portland, Or.: Wiesedruck, 2007]) Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2014-0009S


dscn8387-3Emmett Williams (1925-2007) and Keith Godard (born 1942), Holdup (New York: Works Editions, 1980). Graphic Arts Collection 2016- in process



This is a book of famous thumbs.

Both printer Keith Godard and visual poet Emmett Williams had been collecting pictures of thumbs of friends and famous people for years and so, for their first collaboration, they combined their collections for a book of visual humor and visual poetry.

The two worked together at Godard’s studio and publishing house, Works Editions, only once again in 1983 producing A Little Night Book.


“Emmett Williams, an American poet whose transposition of words into visual art and performances made him one of the founding artists of Fluxus, a performance-oriented avant-garde art movement of the 1960s, died on Feb. 14 in Berlin. He was 81 and had lived in Berlin for many years. . . . In 1966 Mr. Williams took a job as editor in chief of The Something Else Press, a publishing house in New York City founded by Dick Higgins, another pioneer of Fluxus. By 1967 Mr. Williams had edited The Anthology of Concrete Poetry and written Sweethearts, two of his most widely recognized works. “When I have exhibitions, I do not say I am a Fluxus artist, I say it is my work,” Mr. Williams said . . . “And that makes me very comfortable. And it’s nice to outlive descriptive titles like that.” –Roja Heydarpour, “Emmett Williams, 81, Fluxus-Movement Poet, Dies” The New York Times March 1, 2007.



For more of Keith Godard see:
For more of Emmett Williams see:

Donald Trump, The Magazine of Poetry

trump1Donald Trump, The Magazine of Poetry (Upper Montclair, NJ: Henry Wessells, Temporary Culture, 2016). Edition: 126. Graphic Arts Collection GA2016- in process. Gift of John Bidwell.

trump4Temporary Culture is the imprint of Henry Wessells, Princeton University Class of 1983. He was inspired to create Donald Trump The Magazine of Poetry by Tom Disch’s Ronald Reagan The Magazine of Poetry (London: John Sladek and Pamela Zoline, 1968). Rare Books RECAP-91154631.

Wessells tells us that it took fifty burning marshmallows, thinking about how to illustrate the piece on page 1, before he got the front cover. Temporary Culture has an instagram page where there are a couple of clips of readings from the launch on the web. Temporary Culture also produces the Endless Bookshelf




trumpOn the left Brendan C. Byrne and on the right, Henry Wessells at the book launch.


We are pleased to have acquired Princeton Lecturer in Visual Arts Fia Backström’s newest book COOP, which documents the Swedish artist’s performances of two recent scripts, continuing her exploration of language, marketing, disorders and performance.

“Backström’s work focuses on the fabric of our co-existence with and construction of subjectivity through the social life of images. Backström works with structures of political address, corporate logic, and pedagogical methods , destabilizing authorship and the semiotics of images. She uses exhibition as a format for these structures, while turning social situations into operative displays where methods and media are chosen according to the situation and theme. Her work unfolds via a wide range of media including language, marketing, propaganda, typography, broadsides, objects, and performance. Her environments, live events and projects challenge our habitual notions of what constitutes an exhibition – its institutional context, its dialogue with the audience, and even the works of art that are presented. Frequently works by other artists are incorporated, as well as peers, visitors and institutional staff alike, while she fluidly reworks the terms of engagement.”–Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University


Backström came to Princeton in the spring semester of 2010. Apart form teaching at Princeton, Backström also teaches at the Columbia University MFA Graduate Department since 2008, and co-chairs the Milton Avery Bard MFA photography department. She has lectured widely on her work and been a visiting artist in schools such as NYU, Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design, PennU and MICA.




Congratulations on the 50th Anniversary of “A Humument”



humument4It is fifty years since Tom Phillips began work on A Humument. This fall Phillips, who was a Director’s Visitor to the Institute for Advanced Study from 2005 to 2011, will launch the final edition of the book, bringing the work to its completion.

Published today, 27th October, 2016, the final installment of A Humument will appear in three formats: paperback, hardback, and a limited special edition of 100 numbered copies presented in a clamshell box with a signed and editioned print.

Phillips remembers, “A Humument started life around noon on the 5th of November 1966 at a propitious place. Austin’s Furniture Repository stood on Peckham Rye, where William Blake saw his first angels and which Van Gogh must have passed once or twice on his way to Lewisham. As usual on a Saturday morning Ron Kitaj and I were prowling the huge warehouse in search of bargains. When we arrived at the racks of cheap and dusty books left over from house clearances I boasted to Ron that if I took the first one that cost threepence I could make it serve a serious long-term project. My eye quickly chanced on a yellow book with the tempting title A Human Document. Looking inside we found it had the fateful price. ‘If it’s a dime,’ said Ron ‘then that’s your book: and I’m your witness.’”




 “Neither a novel, a poem, an artist’s book, or a graphic novel,” wrote Sebastian Smee, “Tom Phillips’s ‘A Humument,’ on show at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, is a little bit of all these things and one thing incontrovertibly: a masterpiece. It’s also, uncomfortably, a parasite. Sucking steadily at the life juices of an earlier attempt at art, a late-19th-century novel called ‘A Human Document’ by W.H. Mallock, it has transformed its forgotten host page by page, edition by edition, into something far more imaginative and lasting. And while — like a charming houseguest grown fond of the husband he cuckolds — Phillips is unfailingly well-mannered toward Mallock’s book, he has nonetheless thoroughly bested it.” – Smee, “Tom Phillips’s brilliance on every page,” (Boston Globe July 04, 2013)

Walt Whitman and Aaron Siskind

“You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! . . . you are dear to me.”—Walt Whitman


Sidney Shiff (1924-2010) acquired the Limited Editions Club (LEC) from Cardavon Press in 1978. He soon became known for the prominent artists he convinced to work on his books, including Jacob Lawrence, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elizabeth Catlett, Francesco Clemente, Ellsworth Kelly, Sean Scully, and in 1990, Aaron Siskind.

Siskind was 86 years old when he agreed to collaborate on a LEC volume with Shiff. Having once aspired to be a poet himself, Siskind chose Whitman from Shiff’s list suggested authors, just as Edward Weston did for his LEC volume in 1942.

To complete the commission, Siskind walked outside his Providence, Rhode Island home and photographed the tar recently poured into the cracks of the local concrete road. Six of his detailed negatives were transferred to copper plates by Paul Taylor and printed as intaglio prints by Clary Nelson to Renaissance Press.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Aaron Siskind (1903-1991), Song of the Open Road (New York: Limited Editions Club; printed by Paul Taylor, 1990). Letterpress with six photogravures. Designed by Kevin Begos Jr. and Dan Carr. Setin English Monotype Scotch at Golgonooza Letter Foundry by Julia Ferrari and Dan Carr. The text was printed by Heritage Printers on a paper made at Carterie Enrico Magnani. Edition: 89/550. Graphic Arts Collection 2016- in process

Song of the Open Road
By Walt Whitman

3. You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!

You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.