Fair Enough: Speaking Volumes

The posts so far:
Fair Enough: And I'm Off
Fair Enough: Traveling Incognita?
Fair Enough: All Over But the Posting
Fair Enough: Art or Trash?
Fair Enough: Prologue to the Report
Fair Enough: ABMB, Part 1
Fair Enough: ABMB, Part 2
Fair Enough: Aqua Art
Fair Enough: Pulse
Fair Enough: Seven
Fair Enough: Scope
Fair Enough: NADA
Fair Enough: Ink
Fair Enough: A Peek at Art Miami
Fair Enough: Doubletake at Art Miami
Fair Enough: Art Miami
Fair Enough: My Just Right Breakfast

Rebecca Horn, detail of work at Galerie Lelong, New York and Paris; ABMB

A Little Prologue
Book Arts—i.e. artist-made books with a focus on the handmade, hand-bound object, possibly in conjunction with letterpress or other kinds of printing—are a thread in the fabric of contemporary art. But beyond the one-of-a-kind or limited-edition volume, there has been an explosion in the way books are made, used and referenced in contemporary artmaking.

Two Recent examples:  At Invisible-Exports, a small gallery on Orchard Street, Mickey Smith created an installation (October 29-December 19) in which out-of-date volumes of the Federal Reporter, a legal reference containing the decisions of federal appellate courts, created a raised floor in the gallery. If you wanted to get to the back of the gallery, you stepped up onto the book floor and walked across it. On the wall were photographs of notable figures with groaning bookshelves in the background—books as symbols of intellectual status.

Mickey Smith, solo exhibition at Invisible-Exports, New York City, Ocrober 29-December 19

Nancy Natale assemblage, photographed in her Western Mass. studio this fall; detail below

Around the same time I saw that show, I drove up to Western Massachusetts to visit the studio of artist Nancy Natale. She’s a friend, and I wanted to see the work she’d posted on her blog—a series called Running Stitch, in which she’d been assembling book parts into a formal arrangement of horizontal strips secured with vertical rows of tacks. I liked them when I saw them on her blog. I loved them in person.

As libraries are throwing out reference books and even novels as fast as they are being updated on line or made available for personal e-books, artists are snapping them up. Some artists have a regular route, hitting libraries (or the dump) on trash day. Still, I was surprised at the enormous number of book objects I saw at the fairs. Of course it makes sense. Given the cost of art supplies in this economy, why not dig into free materials? But beyond that, given our increasingly digitized information systems, I think the tangibility of actual volumes satisfies a hunger we may not even know we have.

On to the Shows
I’ve posted almost 70 images of works I saw at the fairs: installations with actual books, found and preserved volumes, made-up books, paintings and sculptures of books, drawings and photographs of books, book parts, book pages, altered books, an illuminated manuscript, a few magazines and catalogs for good measure, and that lovely oxymoron: digital videos of books.

Rebecca Horn, full view of work shown top

Simryn Gill installation at Tracy William, New York; ABMB
Detail below

Judy Radul installation at Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver; ABMB
Detail below

Andrew Witkin at Theodore: Art, New York; Pulse

Jorge Mendez Blake at Galeria OMR, Mexico City; ABMB
Detail below

Oh, wait, this is not an installation; it's the dealers' table at Mary Boone Gallery, New York; ABMB
(Love those leather-bound diaries, though)

Richard Wentworth at Peter Freeman, New York; ABMB
The work is called Algebra and Geometry, and individual pages from math books are crumpled inside the jars

Installation view below

Loris Cecchini at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Bruxelles; ABMB
In this relief installation, there appears to be fabric stretched over an armature (of actual books?) which is then painted white; detail below

Installation at Now Contemporary, Miami; Art Miami
Just your average reading-is-fundamental installation where the figures are perusing volumes, dropping trou and fellating snakes; detail below

Jonathan Monk at Casey Kaplan, New York; ABMB
Found books with drawn graphite additions, under plexi; two in detail below .

Luis Molina Pantu at Faria Fabregas, Caracas; ABMB
I'm pretty sure this literary lineup of dictators under plexi is composed of actual books; two in detail below

Daniella Comani at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles; Pulse
I showed you these in the Pulse post. Comani has recreated a library of books covers, with a gender twist; two in detail below

  Can you read this one? It's The Non-Existent Knight, with a gender change possible only in a language with genders--here il to la 

Ryan Brown at Y Gallery, New York; NADA
More fake books; two in detail below

Jean Lowe at McKenzie Fine Art, New York; Aqua Art
Love these: Biblical Family Values, The Jesus Workout, What Would Satan Eat?

Closeup below

Micah Lexier, Set of Seven Siblings, at Birch Libralato, Toronto; Aqua Art

Fernanda Fragateiro at Galerie Elba Benitez, Madrid: ABMB

Terry Maker at Robichon Gallery, Denver; Aqua Art

Jim Hodge at CRG Gallery, New York; ABMB
Detail below: seems to be gilded shopping-bag paper

Anri Sala at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; ABMB

Guillermo Kuitka at Caroline Nitsch Projects, New York
Above: nice view of the booth installation with Louise Bourgeois/Tracy Emin drawings on the right wall, and Bourgeois's pink marble house, which I showed in closeup here 

Below: View of Kuitka's Der Fliegende Hollaender, with dye-printed silk pages, each water manipulated by hand, bound in horsehair, edition of nine variants

Christopher Russell at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles; NADA
This was one of a very few textual narratives I saw. The handmade volume, above, was editioned in a printed version; page detail below

John Fraser at Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago
There were not as many altered books as I would have expected, but I found a good selection. Fraser's are not so much altered as deconstructed

Jessica Drenk at Conrad Wilde Gallery, Tucson

Above and below:  Brian Dettmer at Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago: Pulse

Richard Wentworth at Peter Freeman, New York; ABMB
This book is not so much altered as assaulted.  Ya gotta love the wildness of it, no? Wentworth also had the installation of math-book pages in jars shown earlier in this post

Lauren DiCioccio at Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco; Aqua Art
This is the artist who embroidered the two-dollar bill in the previous post; detail of her notebooks, below

Michael Russell's recombinant volume at Toomey Tourell, San Francisco; Aqua Art

Sandow Birk at Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco; Pulse

Steve Wolfe drawing at Luhring Augustine, New York; ABMB

Thomas Broadbent drawings at Eyewash Projects, Brooklyn; Aqua Art

Kathrin Sonntag photographs at Galerie Kamm, Berlin
View of one below

Brandon Lattu manipulated photograph at Leo Koenig, New York; NADA
Below: view into the booth to give you a sense of scale

Artist unknown to me at Ginocchio Gallery, Mexico City
Paintings of magazine covers, and the covers themselves

Below: one of the paintings

Miler Lagos at Magnan Metz, New York; Pulse
Covering the spectrum of printed matter, here with pleated newspapers; detail below

Michal Rovner at Galerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin; ABMB

Rovner's digital projections might be described as Paleolithic Contemporary. In her "book" on what may or may not be actual stone, detail below, tiny human figures in motion create the lines of "text." I wrote about her previously here

Ignazi Aballi at Galeria Elba Benitez, Madrid; ABMB

I love the connection between Rovner's projection and these photographs, individual image above; installation view below--photographs of a digital image of a reader projected onto a book. The series is called Doble Lectura

Tim Tate at Projects Gallery, Philadelphia; Red Dot

I'm giving Tate the last word here. As you can see from the detail below, that word (whatever it is) is being typed on a vintage manual typewriter. Tate has neatly preserved a literary past while simultaneously projecting it into the future


Anonymous said...

Love the range of book parts and pieces, metaphor and innuendo. I work for a major publisher; the "big cheese" keeps saying:
We don't make books, we provide content.
In 5 years there will be no text books.

And we (the employees) say: we love books, you can hold them, your relationship can be more intimate. They are personal, and people LOVE books. Plus, not all school districts can afford only digital.

With an actual book, you awaken sensibilities, enjoy tactile qualities, the history of the pages, the marking, tears, typography and weight of the book. OK maybe that's just me.
Thanks for the post; that's my little rant.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks so much for posting an image of my work, Joanne.

This book post was really fascinating. It shows how connected we are to books, both as objects and as containers of information. They are so much more than their virtual descendants although those Tim Tate pieces make the best of both worlds. My fave of your post is the Loris Cecchini piece which seems to contain the ghosts of books past - beautiful and evocative.

annell4 said...

Dear Joanne, thanks so much for the post! I have also fallen in love with books and book arts. I had hoped you would post more images of book arts. Loved it!

Joanne Mattera said...

Lynette: I think you third paragraph exactly captures why artists are using books. I'm witcha.

Nancy: I added a detail of your work, which I forgot to do last night. And I like tour description of Cecchini's installation as being "ghosts."

Annell: I had a feeling you wanted more conventional books arts. I linked to The Center for Books Arts in my opening graph. You might find that venue of interest.

tim tate said...

thanks so much joanne.....books have played a central role in a lot of my work. some see my reliquaries as books in themselves. i am in a marvelous show at the fuller museum in brokton, features 5 of my video books.

hope to see you soon

Jane Guthridge said...

I think books may have become more precious to us because it seems possible that they may not be here forever.

Stephanie Theodore said...

Thanks for the picture from my gallery, which is 'Theodore:Art'. and the name of the artist is Andrew Witkin. Hope you can update that.

Joanne Mattera said...

Stephanie: Done. Sorry about that. When I start a post I'm looking at a photo file with hundreds of pictures: picture, picture, detail, artist name, gallery sign; over and over. Sometimes I find I have neglected to shoot the artist's name or the gallery sign.

Stephanie Theodore said...

No worry, and thanks for the change. Andrew was so pleased -- his comment was "she got it!".