Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography) was designed by Conceptual artist Mel Bochner as part of the boxed set of artists’ books entitled Artists & Photographs. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
Bochner’s contribution to this set was inspired by his research into the medium’s history. Finding little material of theoretical value, Bochner began gathering quotations of misunderstandings regarding photography which form the basis for the title and the content of this book.
Misunderstandings comprises ten individual sheets loose within a plain brown envelope on which is a reproduction of the handwritten title and the artist’s name. Nine of the sheets inside are facsimiles of quotations handwritten on index cards. The quoted misunderstandings include statements such as “Photography is the product of complete alienation” (Marcel Proust) and “Photography cannot record abstract ideas” (Encyclopedia Britannica). Other quotations come from, for example, Marcel Duchamp, Mao Tse-Tung, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. To add to the confusion of the misunderstandings, Bochner made up three fake quotes which are also included. As a further play on the idea of photographic misunderstandings, the tenth sheet in the book reproduces a “negative” of a Polaroid – an impossibility because Polaroids do not have negatives.
Published by Multiples, Inc., this book is unsigned and unnumbered. Artists & Photographs was intended to have an edition size of around 1200 copies, but only about 200 were actually fabricated.
Archives (Arles (Le Méjan): Actes Sud. 1989) was published on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition at l’Eglise Saint-Martin de Méjan d’Arles in 1989, Archives reproduces 100 black-and-white photographs that were clipped during 1972 from a weekly periodical specializing in crime. Each of the ensuing pages presents two to four portrait photos, and the images of the criminals and the victims are unlabeled and intermingled so that the viewer is incapable of telling which is which.
Diese Kinder Suchen Ihre Eltern (Munich: Gina Kehayoff Verlag. 1994) was published on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition at the Museum Ludwig at Cologne in 1993-94 which was devoted to the many displaced children in Germany in the aftermath of World War II. The Red Cross attempted to re-unite these families by publishing posters featuring photographs of the children and the artist used these posters as the source material for this work.
Géo Harly: Danseur Parodiste (Dijon: L’Association pour la diffusion de l’Art Contemporain. 1988) is a book conceived by the artist which reporduces family photographs of an eccentric performer named Géo Harly. The artist found these photographs in a cigar box and he believes Harly was born a little more than a century before the publication of the book.
Le Lycée Chases is an artist’s book that features photographs of the members of the 1931 class of a Jewish high school in Vienna. The artist 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 eighteen full-page photos are blurred and ghostly.
In Monuments: Leçons de Ténèbres (Monuments: Lessons of Darkness), the artist collects full-page black-and-white portrait photos of students from Lentillères College for Secondary Education in Dijon circa 1973. Published in conjunction with the artist’s exhibition at the 42nd Biennial at Venice in the Palazzo delle Prigione, the book also includes four color photos of the Boltanski’s shrine-like Biennial installation plus one black-and-white photo of the artist’s original 1973 installation of the student photos in the school itself.
This book portrays two voyages on the North Sea, one with photographs of an oil painting showing a square rigged vessel returning to port and the other with a photograph of a modern day sloop running before the wind under spinnaker and mainsail. It was made by Broodthaers in conjunction with a 16mm film of still images similar to those in the book and bearing the same title.
In the press release accompanying the book and film, Broodthaers explained the combined work in this way:
A book suggesting image as function. A book suggesting the text as function.
More than a theory, the subject of this proposition reflects a simple image of
the frustration that rules the social condition of today
. . . . Perhaps I should add that the subject shines.
His explanation in the book itself is more understandable: “It is up to the attentive reader to find out what devilish motive inspired this book’s publication.”
The oil painting of the square rigger was purchased by Broodthaers at a Paris flea market and it made several appearances in his work. The photograph of the modern sloop was taken by Broodthaers himself. In the book and in the film details of the oil painting are examined closely by the camera moving towards the painting and then withdrawing, but always in sharp focus. This mixing of media, viz., film, printing, painting, and still photography, became an underlying basis for Rosalind Krauss’ eponymous book A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition, where she argued that art in the 1970s was made without regard to the constraints of a particular medium.
This copy of the book is from the Brussels edition by Hossmann in association with the Petersburg Press in London, and is part of an edition of 1000 that does not include the 16mm film. The text is in French. Two other editions were published: one in English at the Petersburg Press in London (1000 copies plus 100 copies signed by the artist and accompanied by the film) and one in German at the Verlag DuMont Schaberg in Cologne (1000 copies).
Marcel Broodthaers began his creative life as a poet not as a conceptual artist. Minuit is one of his earliest creative endeavors, and it is a volume of poetry that displays many of the hallmarks of his later work. Its cinematic and dream-like poems act as a stage set or tableau indirectly hinting at a dark fairytale. As a poet and visual artist, Broodthaers was deeply influenced by Stéphane Mallarmé’s explorations of language and symbols and in Minuit he responds to the Poesies of Mallarmé as well as Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. The poems here share the imagery of these earlier works, such as the themes of the window and the sky from Poesies and the motif of time from Les Fleurs du Mal.
Apart from the influence of these revered famous French poets, Minuit also displays Broodthaers’ own language and imagery, much of which he continued to rework into new forms throughout his brief career. The clock, the sea, the eagle, alphabets, and other images, which populate these painterly poems, are characteristic of much of his later work.
Copies of Minuit, published as a small sewn softcover letterpress book in a limited edition of 225 copies with an illustration by Serge Vandercam, are exceedingly scarce in North America. The version here is an unnumbered copy without the Vandercam illustration. It is in very good condition overall.
This small portfolio in an elegant blue box portrays the word “Blue” in orange and blank embossing, thus deconstructing the word as a signifier of its associated color. One of 17 copies.
Fluxus artist Robert Filliou created a large number of artist’s books and multiples over the course of his career. This book is an excellent example of the artist’s lighthearted style and his belief that art should be interactive and readily available to all. The text of this book consists of bawdy visual poetry written by Filliou and includes a riddle to engage the reader.
Filliou’s French text is reprinted herein in both English and German translations, creating three different sections divided by heavy cardstock that is printed orange. The English translation was completed by Filliou’s friend and fellow Fluxus artist George Brecht, while the German translation was undertaken by the iconoclastic book artist Dieter Roth.
A small perfect-bound paperback printed commercially on machine-made paper, the production of this book epitomizes the democratic multiple of the 1960s. Typical of Filliou’s playful work, the covers of this book feature a simple design in blue, orange, and brown showing a sad-faced sun with cartoon bubbles leading onto to back cover. The text of the bubbles, in French, English, and German, reads “here it is spring and I’m the only sad one.”
Ann Hamilton is an installation and conceptual artist who also makes independent objects, such as this altered book. This original book was published in 1872 and called Little Folks Astray. On page nine, where the text of the book begins, Hamilton has disbound some of the gatherings and laid the leaves out, adjacent to the foredge of the original volume, as though they were flowing from it. Obscuring all of the text on the visible pages, word by word, are polished pebbles of various sizes and colors with which Hamilton has rendered the book unreadable. She has employed similar strategies in the making of other books: as part of a 1992 installation at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis she pricked pinholes in the text of a book to make it illegible and, in indigo blue (1991), she obliterated the text of a number of volumes with the aid of erasers.
Created in an edition of 40, the book is displayed in a lacquered birch and glass case
Location Piece #2: New York City, Seattle, Washington is a conceptual artwork published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
Huebler’s contribution to the box is one of a series of works he made called Location Pieces. Consisting of loose sheets within an envelope, this book documents a complex mapping project that Huebler conducted in New York City and Seattle. He arbitrarily chose an area within each city for the project to take place and within each of these areas a different person took photographs of places that they felt could be described as “frightening,” “erotic,” “transcendent,” “passive,” “fevered,” and “muffled.” Each person took two sets of six photos, resulting in a total of twenty-four photos. The photographs were then sent to the artist without identification. Huebler scrambled the photos and arbitrarily chose twelve of them to include in this book. He added an additional four photos that had not been taken to characterize a place.
Included in this book are black-and-white reproductions of these sixteen photographs as well as two black-and-white maps which indicate the areas within each city where the project took place. A statement describing the artist’s conceptual philosophy is also included. A description of the project and the process by which it was carried out is printed on the back of the envelope containing these documents. This work was printed by offset lithography, and Huebler’s signature is reproduced on the maps, the artist statement, and the envelope.
This book is one of the many books produced by Allan Kaprow that photographically document his happenings. It was published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
Pose was a happening that first took place on March 22 and 23 in 1969 in and around Berkeley, California. The full title of the book explains the script for the event. Kaprow and his collaborators carried chairs through the city, stopping every now and then to sit on the chairs and pose, and taking photographs that they then left in the spot where they had posed. Since it was originally performed, Pose has been re-staged in various contexts – notably in conjunction with a 2008 retrospective of Kaprow’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Documenting the original performance, this book contains seven loose sheets, each featuring two or three black-and-white photos of the event reproduced by offset lithography. Some of the photographs show the participants sitting in chairs while others show the photos that were left on site. The photographs document the random, spontaneous nature of the happening, such as showing participants sitting in chairs that are perched on train tracks or balanced in a tree.
Notebook on Water 1965 – 66 is a book that compiles materials from earlier work he did in 1965 and 1966. It was published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
This book takes the form of a titled manila envelope containing a variety of facsimiles. Included are nine facsimiles of the Photostat dictionary definitions for which Kosuth is famous. They all relate to some form of water: water itself, ice, snow, liquid, vapor, etc. An introduction sheet reproducing notes handwritten by Kosuth features statements by artists Ad Reinhardt and Donald Judd.
Also featured are black and white reproductions of photos showing a radiator, a glass of water, and a glass of ice –all annotated by Kosuth. Another sheet reproduces a mock-up sketch by the artist for a water-related piece, consisting of a melting block of ice with the dictionary definitions of ice and water displayed above it. A folded black-and-white map of the world completes the set. The individual sheets inside the envelope are all printed by offset lithography.
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 48 poems are then divided into four sections with 12 poems each: “Lightenings,” “Settings,” “Crossings,” and “Squarings.” Helen Vendler, the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University, introduces the poems with an essay discussing Heaney’s work.
The mathematical and geometrical presentation of the poems is fittingly accompanied by forty-eight illustrations by LeWitt. Known for using self-imposed restrictions to create variations on geometric forms such as the cube, LeWitt here produces drawings developed from the form of a square. Each illustration is captioned with the constraints LeWitt used to create the drawings – for instance, “Scribbles and a square with not straight horizontal lines outside and not straight vertical lines inside.” LeWitt’s original drawings are presented as letterpress illustrations printed from photopolymer plates.
This book was published in a limited edition of 426 with 400 numbered copies and an additional 26 lettered copies for complimentary distribution. This copy is numbered 112 and is signed by the artist and the author. This copy is accompanied by a letterpress-printed prospectus.
Ficciones pairs the work of Jorge Luis Borges, a founder of postmodernist literature, and that of Sol LeWitt, a founder of Conceptual Art. Writer Alastair Reid, a close friend of Borges, first suggested the pairing, and ultimately LeWitt not only created the illustrations, but also designed the entire book. The block-like format of the book, the rectangular borders around the text, and the Cloister Bold typeface chosen by LeWitt give the volume a monumental appearance. An essay by Alexander Coleman, entitled “The Designs of Jorge Luis Borges,” introduces the collection of short stories. 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. The original drawings were printed as silkscreens by LeWitt’s friend, printmaker Jo Watanabe, and each silkscreen was created by printing four layers – one layer for each direction of line.
Ficciones was published by the Limited Editions Club in an edition of 1500 copies. This copy is numbered 1175 and signed by LeWitt at the colophon. Also included with the book is the Limited Editions Club Monthly Letter discussing the origin of the volume.
Location of Three Geometric Figures is an artist’s book that Sol LeWitt created during a particularly productive period in his career. In 1974, he published six books in addition to this one, including The Location of Eight Points and Arcs and Lines. This book takes the form of a tri-fold brochure with an additional loose sheet enclosed in a glossy cardstock folder. In keeping with LeWitt’s practice of using language and instructions to create his art, the tri-fold contains a single text in three languages, English, French, and German, which specifies the location of three geometric figures: a square, a circle, and a triangle. Each panel of the tri-fold has a black-and-white line illustration of one of the three figures with the prescribing text appearing in three columns below it.
The loose sheet features six illustrations of semi-cubes, forms with which LeWitt is often associated and which played the main role in his book Incomplete Open Cubes, also published in 1974. Location of Three Geometric Figures was published on the occasion of an exhibition of LeWitt’s work organized by the Société des Expositions, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. It was jointly edited by Hossmann, Hamburg and Yves Gevaert, Société des Expositions, Brussels.
As an important figure in the development of Process Art, Robert Morris made a number of works that were focused on art as a process of creation rather than as a static object. 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.
It was published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
For the installation, Morris used earth, water, grease, plastic, felt, wood, thread, light, photographs, and sound as his materials and altered the installation’s form each day. This book presents sixteen sepia-toned offset-printed photos of the installation showing twelve stages of the work along with detail shots of the piece. This book is presented as one long continuous sheet folded into a vertical accordion-format, allowing the viewer to note the changes in the work over time. Each of the photos in the book takes up one panel of the accordion and is accompanied by a small caption at the left.
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 is a book that features pages printed with varying shades of blue, i.e., images of clear blue skies. Nauman extended the irony of finite pictures of endless space, and provided a commentary on contemporary air pollution, by creating L A AIR.
In contrast to the clear blue skies of the previous book, L A AIR features photographs of the actual air of Los Angeles. These images of the toxicity of the environment are ironically presented as pure, color-field-like planes of indigo, crimson and yellow-green. Other than the title on the cover, the book contains no text. The glossy pages of the volume are printed by offset lithography and Nauman’s signature is reproduced on the back cover.
Despite its theme, this book is, ironically, quite beautiful. It was published as part of Artists & Photographs, a collaborative boxed set of artists’ books issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
One of Yoko Ono’s most famous works of any medium, Grapefruit, is an influential example of conceptual art. Associating the work with freedom and independence, Ono self-published the first edition under the imprint Wunternaum Press on July 4, 1964. Like many of her artworks, this book is interactive in nature and contains a collection of text-based conceptual artworks, or instruction pieces.
Presented under the headings of Music, Painting, Event, Poetry, and Object, each page features a set of instructions proposing an artwork that readers imagine or realize themselves. “Cough Piece,” for example, instructs readers to “Keep coughing a year,” while “Tunafish Sandwich Piece” invites readers to “[i]magine one thousand suns in the sky at the same time. Let them shine for one hour. Then, let them gradually melt into the sky. Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.” Ono’s democratic conception of the book extended to its production and the first edition of this book was inexpensively printed in a small square format and perfect bound with cardstock covers. The first edition of this book, of which this copy is one, was limited to 500 copies. In the summer of 1964, during the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Ono sold copies of it on the streets. An expanded version of the book was reprinted by Simon and Schuster in 1970 and several times thereafter. It has been translated into many different languages.
Due to its instructional nature, the book remained a factor in her work for several years. In 1966, she sailed from New York to London to participate in DIAS, a month-long event formally called the Destruction in Art Symposium, organized by London based artist Gustav Metzger. Her participation in this event included Cut Piece, where members of the audience cut away parts of her clothing. This created quite a buzz, and Ono was invited to show her work at an exhibition held at the Indica Gallery and Bookshop. It was at the preview for this show, held the night before the opening, that Ono met John Lennon.
The works in the Indica show drew heavily from the instructional “menus” found in Grapefruit. In the words of a recent MoMA exhibition catalogue: "A great many of the works in the exhibition were examples of her “instruction paintings” and demonstrated her notion of “brain painting.” The sources of many of them were the scores printed in the 1964 edition of her book Grapefruit." Biesenbach and Cherix, Yoko Ono: One Woman Show 1960-1971.
This copy of the scarce first edition features a handwritten inscription by the artist in English reading “To Francis, Yoko Ono London ‘66”, and thus ties it to her Cut Piece trip and her first meeting with Lennon. Like much of her work made during this period, Ono was preoccupied with war, and in the lower left of the same page the artist has by hand copied, as part on the inscription but written in Japanese with Kanji characters, a poignant haiku by Basho:
Ah! Summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors’ dreams
Created by Dennis Oppenheim, Flower Arrangement for Bruce Nauman responds to a work made by Bruce Nauman in 1966. Nauman’s Flour Arrangements consists of seven photos showing a pile of flour in different positions which documents a month-long project during which Nauman shaped flour into different forms on the floor of his studio.
Oppenheim, an artist known for his earthworks, took the homonym of Nauman’s piece and converted it into its usual formulation. His book presents a six-foot long panorama of flowers among trees but, in his own twist, made the panorama from multiple images of the same setting with subtle differences in the positions of the flowers. The black-and-white panorama is printed by offset lithography in an accordion format that folds into the book’s covers.
This work was published by Multiples Inc. as part of the collaborative boxed set of artists’ books titled Artists & Photographs issued in 1970 by Multiples, Inc. The complete set is exceedingly scarce at this point in time; the portfolio of works was set in a box designed by Dan Graham which contained books, objects, prints, and other materials of various dimensions by nineteen artists along with a text booklet by Lawrence Alloway. The set was published by gallerist Marian Goodman in conjunction with a 1970 exhibition that explored how contemporary artists, including Douglas Heubler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Ed Ruscha, were using photography in their work.
In his brief career, artist Blinky Palermo created several portfolios and artist’s books and, published two years before his death, Miniaturen II was his final book. It features very small prints, as the title implies, which showcase his signature style of geometric abstraction on an intimate scale. This book follows other works, such as Fünf Miniaturen (1972), which also feature miniature prints.
The four foil embossed prints in this book – each no larger than 2 7/8’’ x ½’’ – are characteristically colorful. Each print involves two to four bright colors arranged in rectangular and irregular shapes and centered in a cream-colored sea of heavyweight, textured paper. Other than the title page and the justification, no text accompanies the prints.
Miniaturen II is bound with white cloth and white board covers. The title is printed on the front cover in black ink. The slim volume is protected by a clear plastic dust jacket and a white cardstock slipcase.
This is copy 31 out of an edition of 100 copies numbered with Arabic numerals and 10 copies numbered with Roman numerals. It is signed and numbered by the artist.
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. Prince has woven the whole exhibition seamlessly into this publication.
Included with this deluxe edition of the book is an early hand-written and signed joke, which with this copy is discretely and archivally framed. Prince began this form of expression in the 1980s and has continued it to the present day.
This is an early artist’s book by Prince, one of over fifty he has made in his career. Beautifully bound in red linen with gold lettering on the front and back boards and on the spine. This copy is number 149 of 250 deluxe copies signed and numbered by Prince. The hand-written joke is also signed by Prince.
This series of three staple-bound paperback books constitutes Richard Prince’s first and rarest artist’s book. He would go one to make over fifty others. While each of these three books is dated 1980 they actually appeared at different times: War Pictures was the first in February, Menthol Pictures came out in June, and Menthol Wars appeared in October.
These books are very much a part of Prince’s early appropriation and reuse of advertising photographs to explore the distinction, or lack thereof, between one’s actual self and the commercial ideal of the self. The text of all three books is similar but not identical, with the last one, made to accompany a window installation at Printed Matter, the longest and the only one to have pagination and a table of contents. Only the last book has been reprinted, in 2009.
The three cover photographs, like the text, are similar but not identical. The photos made another appearance in Prince’s work as an untitled triptych of ektacolor prints, in 1980, each print twenty by twenty-four inches.
Dieter Roth created numerous artist’s books using a variety of creative approaches, from books with holes cut in them to books made of newspaper clippings. One category of book that Roth engaged with throughout his career was that of the diary. In Flacher Abfall (Flat Waste) (1973-75), Roth documented his life by collecting food packaging and other scraps he produced in the course of daily living. In Ein Tagebuch (A Diary) (1982), he presented a written, filmed, and photographed record of six months in his life.
This work, Die Blaue Flut, presents a diary for 1966 that is entirely typographic with cryptic notes printed on each day. No illustrations are included and even the punctuation marks are spelled out as words. This perfect-bound volume has a plain white cover printed with the title, the author’s name, and the publisher’s name in black. In 1973, Roth reissued this book with a different cover and additional material as Volume 14 of his self-published Gesammelte Werke (Collected Works) series.
This copy of the original book is number 259 out of 500.
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. The book is presented in the manner of a forensic investigation with numerous offset printed black and white photos and terse captions documenting the depicted aspect of the incident. The text details the date, time, place, weather, and speed of the test, and the photos show the Royal (Model “X”) Typewriter before and after the toss. The 1963 Buick Le Sabre used for the test is also shown.
This project was the result of a spontaneous action as Ruscha and his friends Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell drove along a highway near Las Vegas. Ruscha is credited as the driver, Williams as the thrower, and Blackwell as the photographer. Preceding the documentation is a cryptic statement: “It was too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation; carrying within itself, the seeds of its own destruction.” This is a quotation taken from an Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the Dada movement, and it accentuates the dry humor of the piece.
A slim volume, this book is spiral bound with white-coated metal wire. On the cover, the title is printed using the Royal Typewriter logo. The first edition of this book was printed in 1000 copies, and after that three more editions were produced. This copy is from the first edition and is one of the few signed by the artist on the title page. A distributor’s sticker is on the verso of last page.
"Since I was making many ones-of-a-kind imaged with no text or pictures, [Phil Zimmermann] and I decided upon a sequence created by thread piercing the pages of an otherwise blank book. Turning the pages creates a sound, and several threads piercing pages varies the tension of turning pages. Viewed with a single light source there are cast shadows that vary in focus. I consider Book 91, Sting Book a photographic book." Keith Smith
The exact specification for viewing this book, as envisioned by its creator Keith Smith, is a single light source placed three-feet away and at a 45° angle so that “[a]s each page is lifted . . . dark holes throw circular spots of light across the facing page . . . [and] the focus of these spots varies according to the distance from the page to the surface upon which they are cast.” As these shadows move across the page the book becomes almost animated even though the pages are quite blank – devoid of both words and images. The thread moving through the holes as the pages are turned adds an audible and quite distinct schussing to the whole experience. The book automatically and mysteriously rewinds itself so that upon reaching the last page the reader can immediately turn the book over and repeat the same experience again.
This is truly a remarkable achievement of art making and 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 and was compared to the classic livres d’artistes Parallèlement, by Paul Verlaine and illustrated by Pierre Bonnard, and Le Chef d’œuvre Inconnu, by Balzac and illustrated by Pablo Picasso. Johanna Drucker, writing in her landmark The Century of Artists’ Books, said: "The work . . . is perfectly engineered. The simplicity of the materials, linen thread and thick, off-white paper, make the book a field for an ongoing experience of space and light . . . . The whole is physical, sculptural, and textual – an interplay of material (string/paper/knots) and immaterial (shadow/light/sound) elements."
The following institutions have copies of this book in their collections: Library of Congress, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Boston Athenæum, the Getty Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Fogg Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art (among others).
The edition is limited to fifty copies signed and numbered by the artist, plus twenty-six lettered copies hors commerce. The inside pages are Fabiano Rosaspino Avorio and the cover is Rives BFK paper and Centennial cloth. The book has been bound by the artist.