With this exhibition Boreas Fine Art will explore the strong and direct connections between Conceptual Art and the art of the book.  Since the 1960s, it has been understood that the single essential component that all Conceptual Art needs is an idea. And for hundreds of years the book has been viewed as the primary means by which to transmit ideas of any kind, whether scientific, philosophical, literary, or artistic. Taking the form of a scroll, codex, score, patterned broadside, leporello, audio recording, manuscript sketchbook, or most recently as an electronic file, the book may be the final irreducible essence of conceptual art: an idea without a fixed physical object.

Bochner, Mel. MISUNDERSTANDINGS (A THEORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY). New York: Multiples, Inc. 1970

Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography) was designed by Conceptual artist Mel Bochner as part of the boxed set of artists’ books entitled Artists & Photographs.  Bochner’s contribution to this set was inspired by his research into the history of photography. Finding little material of theoretical value, Bochner chose to use quotations of misunderstandings of photography.

[ Bochner, Mel ]  Wittgenstein, Ludwig.  ON CERTAINTY.  San Francisco: Arion Press.  1991.

Wittgenstein, writing a series of notes just prior to his death in 1951, connects certainty with the “difficulty [of realizing] the groundlessness of our believing.”  Conceptual artist Mel Bochner, who has made many works exploring the relationship of language, thought, and vision, has here created a series of drawings based on his reading of Wittgenstein.

Boltanski, ChristianMONUMENTS: LEÇONS DE TÉNÈBRES.  [ Paris ]: L’Association Française d’Action Artistique (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères). [1986.]

Published in connection with the artist’s exhibition at the 42nd Venice Biennale at the Palazzo delle Prigione, in this book, Christian Boltanski collects full-page black-and-white portrait photos of high school students from Dijon, circa 1973, in order to once again explore the theme of memory and mortality.

Boltanski, ChristianLE LYCÉE CHASES. St. Étienne: Maison de la Culture et de la Communication de Saint Étienne. 1987.

Le Lycée Chases features photographs of the members of the 1931 class at a Jewish high school in Vienna. Boltanski has enlarged and cropped the portraits of the students, put them through several iterations of reproduction, and then printed them on thin, almost translucent paper. The resulting full-page photos are blurred and ghostly, indicative of the unknown fate of these students.

Boltanski, Christian. GÉO HARLY: DANSEUR PARODISTE.  Dijon: L’Association pour la diffusion de l’Art Contemporain.  1988.

In this book, nine sepia-toned photographs found by artist Christian Boltanski in a cigar box are reproduced as family photo album.  Boltanski’s hypothesized reconstruction of the subject’s life shows the commonality of human experience.

Boltanski, ChristianARCHIVES. Arles (Le Méjan): Actes Sud. 1989.

Archives reproduces 100 black-and-white photographs that were clipped during 1972 from a weekly periodical specializing in crime. The images of the criminals and the victims are unlabeled and intermingled so that the viewer is incapable of telling which is which.

Boltanski, ChristianDIESE KINDER SUCHEN IHRE ELTERN.  Munich: Gina Kehayoff Verlag.  1994.

In the aftermath of World War II many children in Germany were displaced and did not know where their parents were. The Red Cross attempted to re-unite these families by publishing posters featuring photos of the children along with whatever identifying information was known about them. Christian Boltanski used these posters as the source material for this book.

Broodthaers, Marcel. MINUIT. Brussels: George Hoyoux. 1960.

Minuit is one of Broodthaers’ earliest creative endeavors in book form, completed when he was primarily a poet rather than a conceptual artist.  It displays many of the hallmarks of his later work and also many of the images that he would continue to rework throughout his career.  Minuit is a limited edition softcover letterpress book which is exceedingly scarce in North America.

Broodthaers, MarcelUN VOYAGE EN MER DU NORD.  Brussels: Hossmann (in association with Petersburg Press, London).  1973.

The namesake for Rosalind Krauss’ post-medium art world, this conceptual book explores the use of mixed media through depictions of two voyages on the North Sea.  An edition limited to 1000 copies.

Bruggeman, IngeA STUDY OF BLUE.  [Portland]: [Ink-A! Press].  2002.

This small portfolio in an elegant blue box portrays the word “Blue” in orange and blank embossing, thus deconstructing the word as a symbol of its associative color.

Duchamp, MarcelA L’INFINITIF (THE WHITE BOX).  New York: Cordier & Ekstrom.  1966.

This book is the third and final volume in a series of artist’s books made by Marcel Duchamp about his famous work The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-23). It features facsimiles of seventy-nine notes relating to The Large Glass but which were left out of earlier volumes.  The book is signed twice by Marcel Duchamp – once on the screenprint and once on the title page of the accompanying booklet.

Ernst, MaxLE MUSÉE DE L’HOMME SUIVI DE PÊCHE AU SOLEIL LEVANT.  [Paris]: Galerie Alexandre Iolas.  1965.

This book is a collection of poems and illustrations by Max Ernst who, before the war, was one of the most innovative and engaging book artists of his time. It was made late in his life and has bound-in wrappers designed and illustrated by Ernst’s wife, the American painter Dorothea Tanning. An edition of ninety-nine signed copies with two original color aquatints.

Filliou, Robert14 CHANSONS ET 1 CHARADE.  Stuttgart: Edition Hansjörg Mayer. 1968.

Fluxus artist Robert Filliou wrote this lighthearted and bawdy visual poetry which exemplifies his belief that art should be interactive and readily available to all.  Limited edition.

[ Frankenthaler, Helen ]  Williams, William Carlos.  VALENTINE FOR MR. WONDERFUL.  New York: Tyler Graphics.  1995.

This book features a single poem by William Carlos Williams and seven color intaglio prints by the highly influential painter Helen Frankenthaler whose lyrical compositions, filled with her signature soft washes of color, suggestively complement Williams’ theme of love.  The book is signed and dated by Frankenthaler on the folio.

Hamilton, AnnUNTITLED.  1992.  An altered book with polished pebbles in a lacquered birch and glass case.  [ May Sophie. Little Folks Astray.  Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers.  1872. ]

The works of conceptual artist Ann Hamilton often reflect her interest in language and the acts of reading, speaking, and listening. With this project she has obscured the text of an older book with polished pebbles thus rendering it unreadable.

Huebler, Douglas. LOCATION PIECE #2: NEW YORK CITY, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON. New York: Multiples, Inc. 1970.

This book is a conceptual artwork by Douglas Huebler published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc.  Consisting of loose sheets within an envelope, this book documents through photography a complex mapping project that Huebler conducted in New York City and Seattle.


Published by Multiples, Inc. as part of the boxed set of artists’ books, this book is one of the many books produced by Allan Kaprow that photographically document his happenings. Pose was a happening that first took place on March 22 and 23 in 1969 in and around Berkeley and the full title of the book explains the script for the event.

Kassay, Jacob.  [ SANDED EDITION ]  [ London ]: [ Institute of Contemporary Arts. ]  2013.

Like Rauschenberg’s erasure of a de Kooning drawing, this book is an erased exhibition catalogue from the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London which had organized a solo exhibition of Kassay’s work. The artist has disbound the book and sanded away all of the text and illustrations. It is signed and dated by the artist in pencil, which are the book’s only markings.

Kosuth, Joseph. NOTEBOOK ON WATER 1965 – 66. New York: Multiples, Inc. 1970.

Notebook on Water 1965 – 66 is a book created by Joseph Kosuth that was published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc.  It takes the form of a titled manila envelope containing facsimiles of Photostats of dictionary definitions and black-and-white reproductions of photos showing varioius manifestations of water.

LeWitt, Sol. LOCATION OF THREE GEOMETRIC FIGURES. [Brussels] : [Société des Expositions, Palais des Beaux-Arts]. [1974].

In keeping with LeWitt’s practice of using language and instructions to create his art, the tri-fold artist’s book contains a text in English, French, and German detailing the location of three geometric figures – a square, a circle, and a triangle.


[ LeWitt, Sol ]  Borges, Jorge Luis.  FICCIONES.  New York: Limited Editions Club.  1985.

Ficciones pairs the work of Jorge Luis Borges, a founder of postmodernist literature, and Sol LeWitt, a founder of Conceptual Art.  Appearing at regular intervals throughout the seventeen stories are twenty-two illustrations featuring straight lines overlapping and running in different directions to create LeWitt’s characteristic geometric figures.


[ LeWitt, Sol ]  Heaney, Seamus.  SQUARINGS.  San Francisco: Arion Press.  2003.

In this volume, Conceptual artist Sol LeWitt responds to a series of poems by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. First published in 1991, these poems are similar in shape to a square: they consist of twelve lines arranged into four three-line stanzas.  The mathematical and geometrical presentation of the poems is accompanied by forty-eight illustrations by LeWitt all developed from the form of a square.

[ Maret, Russell ] Euclid and Sir Thomas Little Heath, trans. INTERSTICES & INTERSECTIONS, OR AN AUTODIDACT COMPREHENDS A CUBE. [ New York ] : Russell Maret. 2014.

Featuring commentary and illustrations by the artist, this large-scale accordion book explores the principles of geometry on a mathematic and personal basis. Maret’s layered printing process results in illustrations that have a distinctive, luminous quality and are masterpieces of printing virtuosity. Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, has called this book “a tour de force of color printing.”

Morris, Robert. CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY: R. MORRIS 1969. New York: Multiples, Inc. 1970.

As an important figure in the development of Process Art, Robert Morris made a number of works that were focused on the process of creating art rather than on static objects. In these works, he often used ephemeral materials that were difficult to sculpt into predetermined shapes. Continuous Project Altered Daily: R. Morris 1969 is a book that documents one such installation.

Nauman, Bruce. L A AIR. [New York] : Multiples, Inc. 1970.

One of only a few artist’s books that Bruce Nauman has made during his career, L A AIR is a book that serves as a companion piece to his earlier book, CLEA RSKY (1969). CLEA RSKY features pages printed with varying shades of blue – images of clear blue skies.  L A AIR features photographs of the actual air of Los Angeles.

Ono, Yoko. GRAPEFRUIT. New York: Wunternaum Press. 1964.

One of Yoko Ono’s most famous works of any medium, Grapefruit is an influential early example of conceptual art. Like many of her artworks, this book is interactive in nature and contains a collection of text-based conceptual artworks, or instruction pieces. This copy of the scarce first edition features a handwritten inscription by the artist in English and Japanese.

Oppenheim, Dennis. FLOWER ARRANGEMENT FOR BRUCE NAUMAN. New York: Multiples, Inc. 1970.

This book responds to a work made by Bruce Nauman, called Flour Arrangements, consisting of photos showing piles of flour in different positions. Oppenheim, an artist known for his earthworks, took the homonym of Nauman’s piece and converted it back to its usual formulation, featuring a panorama of flowers in a natural setting.

Palermo, Blinky. MINIATUREN II. [ Munich ] : Galerie Heiner Friedrich. 1975

Miniaturen II was Blinky Palermo’s final book. Published two years before his death at age thirty-three, it features very small prints, as the title implies, that showcase his signature style of geometric abstraction on an intimate scale.

Prince, RichardINSIDE WORLD.  New York: Kent Fine Art and Thea Westriech. 1989.

Both an exhibition catalogue and a work of art, this book is Prince’s visual narrative of the media’s portrayal of sex and aggression drawn from the works of many artists including Richard Artschwager, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Man Ray, Francis Picabia and, of course, Richard Prince himself.  Included is a hand-written joke signed by Prince and archivally framed. The book is one of 250 copies (plus eight artist’s proofs) signed and numbered by Prince.

Prince, RichardWAR PICTURES.  [ New York: ] Artists Space. 1980.  MENTHOL PICTURES.  Buffalo: CEPA Gallery.  1980.  MENTHOL WARS.  [ New York: ] Printed Matter.  1980

This series of three staple-bound paperback books constitutes Richard Prince’s first and rarest artist’s book. Each book is similar but not identical to the other two. Together they constitute his earliest exploration of self image through the lens of commercial promotion. No limitation is stated but these books are very scarce.

Rot, Diter (Dieter Roth). DIE BLAUE FLUT.  Stuttgart: Edition Hansjörg Mayer. 1967.

Dieter Roth was an artist well known for his multi-faceted work with books and multiples. This work presents a diary for 1966 that is entirely typographic. No illustrations are included and even the punctuation marks are spelled out as words.

Ruscha, Edward. Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell. Royal Road Test. Los Angeles: [ Edward Ruscha ]. 1967.

One of the highly influential photographic books created by Ed Ruscha in the 1960s, Royal Road Test documents the wreckage of a typewriter thrown from a speeding car. This project was the result of a spontaneous action by Ruscha and his friends Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell, and in the book the perpetrators make an express reference to the Dada art movement which began fifty years earlier.

[ Schäpers, Veronika ]  Reich, Stephan.  AOKIGAHARA.  Karlsruhe: Veronika Schäpers.  2016.

Aokigahara is the name of a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji and, after the Golden Gate Bridge, is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide.  This eponymous book by artist Veronika Schäpers uses a complex stencil process rather than regular printing to create ghostly images and uses staggered pages to create the impression of a person fading into the forest.

Smith, KeithBOOK 91, STRING BOOK.  Rhinebeck: Spaceheater Editions.  1982.

This truly remarkable book has attracted much critical attention.  In The Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections: An Illustrated Guide (1992), the book was cited as an example of the boundless creativity contemporary artists’ books have embraced.  It is devoid of text and printed image, relying solely upon the movement of strings through die-cut holes.

Spector, Buzz. [ UNTITLED. ] 1983. An altered book with miniature metal bombs.  [ Rumpf, Hans. Das War der Bombenkrieg.  Oldenburg : Gerhard Stalling Verlag. 1961 ]

A book created by book artist Buzz Spector, this volume conceals miniature metal bomb sculptures within its pages. For this work, Spector chose to alter Das War der Bombenkrieg, a German book published in 1961 about the firebombing of German cities in World War II.

Tetenbaum, BarbaraMINING MY ÁNTONIA.  Portland and West Hartford:  Triangular Press and the Hartford Art School Print Workshop.  2012.

While inspired by a nineteenth century novel and a recent installation by the artist at Reed College in Portland, this work is firmly rooted in the art historical traditions of the Twentieth Century.

Tuttle, Richard. PERCEIVED OBSTACLES.  König: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.  2000.

This book presents over eighty facsimiles of work from Tuttle’s Perceived Obstacles series which originated in a poster design for the literature center at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery in New York. Taking its dimensions from the format of the work in the original project, this oversize book reproduces Tuttle’s eighty artworks at full-scale.

Zimmermann, PhilipHIGH TENSION.  Rhinebeck: Spaceheater Editions.  1993.

The unusual size and shape of this autobiographical book, its use of vibrant color and metallic ink, its edgy imagery, and the pointed reference in the title to high tension power lines all suggest an electrically charged explosion.

© 2018 Boreas Fine Art