The Novel That Writes Itself

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.

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