Aspen Magazine was a multimedia magazine conceived of, edited and published by Phyllis Johnson in New York from 1965 to 1971. Aspen broke new ground in terms of its editorial concept, design approach and distribution strategy, which continues to be resonant and influential today.
The magazine featured a diverse and impressive array of contributors, from such key artists, musicians, authors and theorists as Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Ed Ruscha, J. G. Ballard, Bill Evans, Philip Glass, the Velvet Underground and Yoko Ono. Known as “the magazine in a box”, Aspen was made up of unbound contents that included texts, flexi-discs, reels of film and other objects. It struck a chord in the 1960s artists’ publishing culture—which included publications by Marcel Duchamp, Seth Siegelaub and members of the Fluxus movement—and embraced the idea of presenting travelling exhibitions in a book (or a box, for that matter) in order to provide alternative spaces and economies for art.
The exhibition Aspen Magazine: 1965–1971, from November 26 to February 8 2015, at Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, features complete sets of all issues, with a focus on the combined edition of issues five and six from 1967, which was guest-edited by Brian O’Doherty and is referred to as The Conceptual Issue. Contributors to this issue include Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Richter, Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner, Naum Gabo, László Moholy-Nagy, Dan Graham, George Kubler, Robert Morris, William S. Burroughs, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Morton Feldman, Michel Butor, Tony Smith and Merce Cunningham. Barthes first published his influential and important essay The Death of the Author in this issue.
Printed Matter, a pioneer in the field of artists’ books and a nerve center for New York’s alternative arts world for four decades, is the subject of the exhibition Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter at 80WSE gallery, New York, from December 2 to February 14.
A carefully selected amalgamation of books, records, exhibition documentation and flyers, the exhibition charts the organizational history of the New York non-profit in relation to the history of artists’ books and important movements in contemporary art from the 70’s to the present, encompassing the alternative space movement, downtown NYC counter-cultural scenes, and artist activism.
The recent evolution and democratisation of printing techniques has encouraged many artists to re-evaluate their position in relation to literature, to books, and to the page. Dedicated to the exploration of new practices within art book production, The Liberated Page will consider the page for its simultaneously poetic, structural and physical elements.
From November 21 to December 28 2014, Bâtiment d’art contemporain, Le Commun, in Geneva, the exhibition will highlight a wide range of interventions and approaches, and will discuss in particular, how artists invent new books and why their invention opens up new possibilities for the page – as well as for communication and language.
The Liberated Page will highlight the work of several contemporary artists concerned with the page, in conversation with such historic examples as books from artists Dieter Roth, Edward Ruscha, and Seth Siegelaub, bookworks from publishing houses Something Else Press and Ecart (including work by Daniel Spoerri, Robert Fillou, Emmett Williams, and Dick Higgins), an anthology by Guy Schraenen, the Mèla post card book from Maurizio Nannucci, as well as the complete Franklin Furnace archive.
On the occasion of the exhibition Architecture by Line in Lausanne, an artist’s book has been published by Nieves and brings together for the first time, as individual leporellos, the four long drawings Saul Steinberg produced for the Children’s Labyrinth, a spiraling, trefoil wall structure at 10th Triennial of Milan, a design and architecture fair that opened in August 1954. The drawings were photographically enlarged and incised into the wall.
The Line, which begins and ends with a hand drawing, is Steinberg’s manifesto about the conceptual possibilities of the line and the artist who gives them life. As the horizontal line shifts meaning from one passage to the next—water line, laundry line, railroad track, among others—it comments on its own transformative nature. The Line occupied one of the structure’s three leaves, while the other two hosted Types of Architecture, Shores of the Mediterranean, and Cities of Italy.
Types of Architecture is a satirical survey of world architecture (Steinberg was trained as an architect in Milan), from America’s log cabins to Bauhaus exaggerations to fragile skyscrapers.
Shores of the Mediterranean presents a sailor’s-eye-view of the Mediterranean coastline, filled with the ruins and renascences of successive civilizations.
The Italy Steinberg knew as a student in the 1930s resonates in Cities of Italy, as the inked line, drawn with the artist’s usual spare elegance, imagines an urban sprawl of campaniles, factories, piazzas, apartment houses, curlicued domes, and a water tank that seems to have escaped from a carnival.
Sturtevant (American, 1924–2014) has been “repeating” the works of her contemporaries since 1964, using some of the most iconic artworks of her generation as a source and catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art and image culture. Beginning with her versions of works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Sturtevant initially turned the visual logic of Pop art back on itself, probing uncomfortably at the workings of art history in real time. Yet her chameleon-like embrace of other artists’ art has also resulted in her being largely overlooked in the history of postwar American art. As a woman making versions of the work of better-known male artists, she has passed almost unnoticed through the hierarchies of mid-century modernism and postmodernism, at once absent from these histories while nevertheless articulating their structures.
Though her work of the 1960s and 1970s may appear to be simply mimetic exercises in proto-appropriation, Sturtevant is better understood as an artist who adopts style as her medium and takes the art of her time as a loose “score” to be enacted. Far more than copies, her versions of Johns’s flags, Warhol’s flowers, and Joseph Beuys’s fat chairs are studies in the action of art that expose aspects of its making, circulation, and canonization. Working primarily in video since 2000, the artist remains deeply engaged with the politics of image production and reception, using stock footage from Hollywood films, television, and advertising to point to the exhaustion built into much of postwar cultural production.
The exhibition Sturtevant: Double Trouble, from November 9, 2014, to February 22, 2015, at MoMA, New York, is the first comprehensive survey in America of Sturtevant’s 50-year career, and the only institutional presentation of her work organized in the United States since her solo show at the Everson Museum of Art in 1973. Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, the exhibition offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of her career.
American popular culture and the environment of the “art world,” combined with a sly use of puns, codes, inside jokes and signature wit mixed with piercing perceptiveness, comprise the frame for much of Ray Johnson‘s work. Using his own brand of semantic structure, Ray Johnson creates complex and multi-layered portraits—of himself and of other subjects.
From October 7 to November 1, 2014, Karma, New York, presents an exhibition of previously unseen work by Ray Johnson. A comprehensive publication will be released in conjunction with the exhibition, which includes 296 color illustrations of collages, drawings, interventions and other ephemera.
Installation shot Bremen, ROMA PUBLICATIONS 1998-2012, Research Centre for Artists’ Publications, Weserburg, Bremen, 2012
Roma Publications 1998 – 2014 is an exhibition that includes over 230 books and editions published by Roger Willems and Mark Manders in collaboration with a large number of artists, writers and designers.
A publication is typically the end point of a project or exhibition; this exhibition, however, takes the printed format as its point of departure. Books, newspapers, posters and other printed matter are combined with artworks and installations relating to the publisher’s identity inside an exhibition dimension. The informal way of bringing art and publications together in a carefully composed exhibition gives clear insight into the working process of Roma Publications, which is based on a collaborative relationship to the artists. Another interesting element of this hybrid approach is that it questions the sometimes thin line between an original and a reproduction, and thus between the exclusiveness of an artwork and the democratic nature of a publication.
The exhibition aims to present the form of the book as an extended media that can involve the exhibition space. Some of the invited artists will contribute to the fading of the distinction between paper and space, image and material, original and reproduction (the print run of Roma Publications’ issues varies between 2 and 150.000 copies). Many of these practitioners use the book and printed matter as a central medium in their work, underlining not only the important role of publications to diffuse artistic production, but also in the rethinking of the book medium as an artistic practice.
The independent art publisher Roma Publications, founded in 1998 by artist Mark Manders and graphic designer Roger Willems, works in collaboration with artists, designers, writers and institutions. For the exhibition at the Fondazione Giuliani, from October 11 to December 13 in Rome, the entire in-progress list of over 230 titles will be on display, in addition to a specially created reading room in which visitors can peruse each of the publications. Several new commissions and site-specific artworks will also be included in the exhibition, together with pre-existing works, all by artists who have actively collaborated with and participated in the activities of Roma Publications. With the exception of just two artists, all of these artists will be exhibiting in Rome for the first time, some for the first time in Italy.
Curated by Lorenzo Benedetti and Roger Willems. With contributions by Gwenneth Boelens, Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Marlene Dumas, Geert Goiris, Kees Goudzwaard, Sara van der Heide, Arnoud Holleman, Rob Johannesma, Jan Kempenaers, Irene Kopelman, Bart Lodewijks, Mark Manders, Marc Nagtzaam, Oksana Pasaiko, Petra Stavast, Batia Suter, Raymond Taudin Chabot, Wouter van Riessen, and may others.
On Saturday 11th October, from 11am to 1pm, the Foundation will host a musical performance by Wouter van Riessen, a reading by Nickel van Duijvenboden and an informal conversation with the curators and some of the artists in the exhibition.
The Library Vaccine, from September 25 to November 9 at Artists Space in New York, is an exhibition that presents a number of discrete collections of books in order to sample art’s distinctive relationship to the book form in its singularity, and in its states of reproduction, distribution and accumulation. The exhibition addresses the book as a particular technology, and in its collective state of the private collection, reading room or library, as a social machine – registering social and personal histories, and articulating structures of knowledge and value through the relations between its parts.
Each section of the exhibition presents a collection that loosely corresponds to a decade between the 1960s and the present day, yet it does not seek to survey a recent history of books in or as art; rather it takes the tension between book-as-text and book-as-object as a starting point. The exhibition marks a movement from the egalitarian, curative aspirations of the book as distributed artwork, to these aspirations’ subsumption within broader tendencies towards collecting, archiving and the re-circulation of knowledge.
Some sections of the exhibition revolve around curatorial or editorial frameworks that highlight artists’ use of the book form, while others focus on the collection or library as a holistic entity. In these contexts the act of collation emphasizes shifts between the private and the common, the artwork and the artifact. The roles of artist, publisher and collector are seen to overlap, and the sequenced content of both the individual book and the massed collection provides sites for the production and articulation of meaning. In each instance, the mode of physical display of the books is considered as an extension of their individual or collective character.
With The Defaced Library Books of Kenneth Halliwell & Joe Orton; Edition Hansjörg Mayer; Vigilance: An Exhibition of Artists’ Books Exploring Strategies for Social Concern, after an exhibition curated by Lucy R. Lippard and Mike Glier; The Colin de Land Library; Everything is About to Happen: An ongoing archive of artists’ books selected by Gregorio Magnani; & The Library of Helen DeWitt.
“Hypergraphy” is an artistic practice developed by the Lettrist avant-garde in the 1950′s. They defined it as “introducing into alphabetic writing not only the art of painting, but the graphics of all people or social categories past and present, as well as the graphics or anti-graphics of every individual imagination”.
By means of a timeline drawn by artist Roland Sabatier, the exhibition Rules of Hypergraphy – a project by Paul Gangloff, September 26 to October 5, Extrapool, Nijmegen – shows how the Lettrists situated hypergraphy within the history of writing and painting. It further assembles works by turntablist Marc Matter, (typo)graphic designer Karl Nawrot, graphic designers Our Polite Society and sound poet Jörg Piringer, each of them exemplifying uses of signs and letters that goes beyond writing.
The accompanying publication works as a subtext for the exhibition. It provides further insight into the concept of hypergraphy, but also prolongs the investigation by taking a detour into the relation between the Lettrists and the punks.
The Novel That Writes Itself is a finished whole of a novel in progress, initiated in 1978 by the Conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg.
It all begins with the end of a story, the one about the Colby Poster Printing Company that shut down in December 2012, taking with itself an emblematical graphic identity into history. A Colby poster can be easily distinguished from others and bear the stamp “from L.A.”. Multicolored posters with unexpected gradients of flashy, typically Californian colors, the Colby posters, covered with outrageously bold characters, do not respect any typographical rules. Allen Ruppersberg was one of their most faithful and regular customers.
It begins also in 1978, when Allen Ruppersberg has an idea of a work in progress which he would call The Novel That Writes Itself, and which he would make in the shape of a fictionalized autobiography where he would talk of his adventures as a young artist, which he is at the time.
In parallel to this project, he starts to produce aphorisms or enigmatic questions printed on multicolored posters. These posters, the famous Colbys, start to show up at his exhibitions around the middle of the 1980s. He realizes in 1990 that in fact “the novel had written itself” without his knowing. By then, 50 posters had been produced. The Novel That Writes Itself is thus given substance to by Colby Posters through which he shows not only how the characters of his autobiography evolve but also an array of his projects.
The pages of The Novel That Writes Itself, a work whose essentially romanesque nature requires the shape of a book, break away one by one to be put on the walls of galleries or museums. This novel by Allen Ruppersberg takes, in its provisional form, the shape of a renewed installation, enriched with each new presentation. In the footsteps of El Lissitzky who declined the traditional structure of a book by turning its pages into posters, Allen Rupersberg takes a similar approach.
The Novel That Writes Itself finishes to write itself in 2013 with the closing of the Colby Company. Time has come, perhaps, to bring back the classic format of a novel. Allen Ruppersberg, however, has chosen to compensate the constraint of a book by giving it the independence of a poster. The binder holds together a number of separate pages who can keep their original poster-like nature.
Exhibition from September 12 to October 4, 2014, mfc-michèle didier, Paris.
The exhibition Man Ray, Picabia et la revue Littérature (1922-1924) – Centre Pompidou, Paris, until September 8 – sheds light on a crucial period in the history of modern art, between the end of the Dadaist movement and the advent of Surrealism, and is based on the twenty-six covers designed by Francis Picabia for the review Littérature in the early Twenties. Until very recently, only their printed version was known. In 2008, Francis Picabia’s original drawings, fifteen of which has never been exhibited, were revealed. This exhibition also highlights the contribution of Man Ray. The American photographer had moved to Paris in 1921, and Littérature was where he first disclosed images that have become icons of photographic modernity, like Le Violon d’Ingres and Marcel Duchamp’s L’Élevage de poussière. The inside pages of Littérature also contained works by Picasso, Max Ernst and Robert Desnos.
In 1922, André Breton remained the only one in charge of the review, after the departure of Louis Aragon and then Philippe Soupault, with whom he had founded it in 1919. To mark the review’s change of direction, Breton decided to replace the cover image created by Man Ray with drawings – different each time – by Francis Picabia, to whom he gave carte blanche for each issue. Their highly linear graphic style was Picabia’s ironic response to the vogue of the “return to Ingres” advocated by the former Cubists, whom he regularly mocked. Picabia also drew on religious imagery, erotic iconography, and the iconography of games of chance. These ink drawings also reveal Picabia as an animal artist, as horses, baboons, tigers, dogs and deer, probably inspired by books for laymen, rub shoulders with various figures from the world of the circus or the musical. Several drawings seem to be of the authors of the review itself, to which Picabia made a regular literary contribution. The artist made play with pronounced contrasts of black and white, reminiscent of his “Ripolin” paintings of the same period, like the Dresseur d’animaux, now in the Centre Pompidou, which has similar iconography.
The photobook is a thriving medium for encountering a group of images, and the preferred presentation of many photographers. This form of publishing responds to the basic structure of photographic production, and is growing despite digital distribution of images.
The Sandbox: At Play with the Photobook, an installation by Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar, both artists and owners of Spaces Corners, transforms the museum into a playful hybrid space for encounters with the photobook: part reading room, part bookshop, part library, part event space. Encounter a rotating selection of photobooks and intimate events emphasizing contemporary trends that give the medium its character.
On view at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, until July 28, 2014.
Ray Johnson (1927-1995) was a seminal Pop Art figure in the 1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art. His preferred medium was collage, that quintessentially twentieth-century art form that reflects the increased (as the century wore on) collision of disparate visual and verbal information that bombards modern man. Integrating texts and images drawn from a multiplicity of sources — from mass media to telephone conversations — Johnson’s innovativeness spread beyond the confines of the purely visual.
The art of Ray Johnson was rooted in his constant practice of correspondence. He dispersed a copious amount of collages and other printed matter through the mail to friends and colleagues. The Museum of Modern Art Library received materials in the mail from Ray Johnson from the 1950s until his death in 1995.
The exhibition Ray Johnson Designs – July 2 to September 29, 2014, MoMA, New York – focuses on Johnson’s early printed materials, especially his promotional flyers for his work as a graphic designer and illustrator. These flyers were some of the first materials that the MoMA Library received from Johnson and they prefigure the graphic motifs and word play that remained central to his later art work. Publications that included Johnson’s design work from this period, including book jacket designs for publishers such as New Directions, The Jargon Society, and City Lights, are also featured.
Invented by the English scientist Sir John Herschel in 1842 as a means for blueprinting, the cyanotype process is a simple and inexpensive printing method characterised chiefly by its cyan-blue hue. It was first popularised as a photographic printing technique in 1843 by Anna Atkins, a botanist who employed the practice to illustrate her collected herbarium specimens. Attributable to its affordability and amateur procedure, the cyanotype subsequently became a prevalent photographic process into the turn of the century.
Cyanotypes is an innovative exhibition – June 10 to 28, Roman Road, Brussels; June 14 to 26, MAD Agency, Paris – by the French multimedia artist Thomas Mailaender whose appropriation of this traditional technique serves not to comment, nor to foster a significant yet outmoded genre in the history of photography. Rather his cyanotypes challenge and satirise the clichéd legitimacy and parameters of today’s art. Imbued with humorous and bold content, Mailaender’s cyanotypes manifest images taken from the artist’s Fun Archive, a personal collection of absurd and anonymous pictures drawn from the Internet.
Oraibi Bookshop is an on-going curatorial project based in Geneva and run by graphic designer & artist Ramaya Tegegne and curator Tiphanie Blanc. From May 9 to 30, at Officin in Copenhagen, Oraibi presents Asger Jorn and the international situationist, a selection of books which will focus on Asger Jorn and his relationship with the French avant-garde and the international situationist movement. For the event, Oraibi has invited Danish editorial project Internationalistisk Ideale (Marie Kølbæk Iversen and Louise Hold Sidenius) to make a print and video display focusing on Jorn’s publication “La Langue Verte et la Cuite” from 1968, known in Danish as ‘tungebogen’ – the ‘tongue book’.
De:, a project by Rollergirl, is a series of exhibitions and publications, presenting a cross section of all styles and genres of current international photography. For each installment, the work of talented young photographers from one cultural capital is presented in another major city. Introducing their work to new audience and catalyzing cultural exchange. The first edition was De: Amsterdam, showing photography from Amsterdam in Lausanne, 2006. The following edition was, De: Paris, presenting Paris-based photographers in Amsterdam, 2011.
De: Stockholm, the third edition of the project , printed using only 3 spot colors Red, Green and Blue, will show a selection of images made by Stockholm-based photographers Brendan Austin, Thobias Fäldt, Marcus Harrling, Linda Hofvander, Inka and Niclas, Klara Källström, Björn Larsson, Hanna Ljungh, Märta Thisner, Lars Tunbjörk, Erik Undehn. Opening and book launch, May 22, 6pm, ArtLigue, Paris.
Lining the walls of the Galerie Allen, Paris, May 15 – June 14, the images of Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann from the Maisons françaises, une collection series affirm their strange uniqueness. Drawn from a larger selection, they originate from a collection of the decoration magazine Maison Française, dating from 1971 to 1989. From them, the artist has extracted adverts that she treated in a specific way. After converting them to black and white, she removes any trace of text or symbol that reveals their commercial purpose. While the formats vary, the printed area is the same for each of the images in the series. Using subtraction and, therefore, reversing the process of production for advertising images, Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann offers a smoothing and an equalisation of all the selected images. Sometimes still readable when they are presented as a single object, they are more complex when the information load is greater. In those in which the meaning was governed by the commercial necessity of the advert (selling a model object, as much as a model life), in getting rid of the brand and the slogan, the images have nothing to sell except themselves and their rapprochement in the exhibition space offers an unsuspected potential narrative.
In the 19th century public galleries opened to provide access to art for the enjoyment and education of all members of society. At this time, it was common for paintings to be displayed close together from floor to ceiling to create a ‘salon hang’, named after exhibitions held in the Salon Carré of the Louvre, the national museum of France. This arrangement was often guided by instinct rather than a planned concept, and could transform the gallery goer’s impression of the exhibited paintings.
BP Spotlight: Source, until September 14 at Tate Britain in London, highlights similarities between the mass display of art in a salon hang and the ability of 21st century digital and social media platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram to present large numbers of images in a single location online. Digital artworks created in response to the display are presented alongside Tate collection works, selected for the visual qualities they share with images created for these contemporary platforms.
The rise of social media along with the mass distribution and consumption of images is transforming how we communicate visually. Images can be easily accessed, they are repeatedly re-used and presented out of context, and the source of the image is immediately replaced. This alters how origin, meaning and content might be read, raising questions about the value of originality and authenticity of the image’s original source.
The light whistles and flashes red. Guided by ferrite metal. Passage still takes place in electricity. A heat engine that reproduces its own parts when they break down. Is it money or is money just thought. Lost inside everything. Resonance of a dead car battery. No one to speak the car. The shade that threatens to return to life. The closer I get to you. Lower front strut brace. Left passenger door window, glass regulator channel run. Door handle pull cable. Window trims in topaz-pearl, silver birch, steel grey, rust. Mineral deposits of salt, broken glass, dust. Fables in which all things are alive and give signs. Voices that imitate the sounds of the press or the blacksmith. Paint shop agates. Signal red. Amber and ruby tail lights. Pulsing, reminiscing. Gestural, phonetic. Songs from clouds of ash, smoke and soot. A very seductive scent. People noticing their own language. Walk about and become what is happening. Carried away on an endless belt. Grounded or in flight. Indicators will let you know. The history of those feelings. When it was in the air.
Our material world is made up of a succession of layers; generation by generation, work by work, each new layer is informed by and created in dialogue with the existing material strata. The food we eat, the spaces we occupy, the written and visual media we engage with, the songs we listen to, the art we spend time with, the films we watch, and the objects we live with were all informed by past material culture and, in turn, will influence future creative decisions. The objects presented in Source Material exemplify the material foundation from which creative work is made today.
Source Material – April 8 to 12, Kaleidoscope Project Space, Milano – presents the objects, keepsakes, and references that have had a pivotal effect on the work of fifty-four creative minds from the fields of architecture, art, cuisine, design, fashion, film, and music, such as Erwan & Ronan Bouroullec, Thomas Demand, Konstantin Grcic, Jürg Lehni, Mike Meiré, Mike Mills, Harsh Patel, Benjamin Sommerhalder, Wendy Yao, etc… Found within the contributors’ everyday working or living environments, these objects are stepping-stones for the creative process.
Images: Massimo Torrigiani, Leggio; Marco Velardi, Disegnare Colorare Costruire, book series curated by Bruno Munari; Jürg Lehni, A Guide to Architecture in Southern California by David Gebhard, Robert Winter; Andrew Stafford, Scale furniture.