On 24 February 2015 the exhibition Books beyond Artists: Words and Images, dedicated to artists’ books and their role in the history of art until the present time, opened at Ivorypress. The show is curated by Elena Ochoa Foster in collaboration with the Ivorypress team.
Books beyond Artists follows the exhibition Blood on Paper (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom, 2008), which was curated by Elena Ochoa Foster, founder and CEO of Ivorypress and Rowan Watson, curator of the National Art Library and head of the artists’ books collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The exhibition includes editions from private collections—such as those of Ben Brown (United Kingdom), Jean-Claude Meyer (France), Thaddaeus Ropac (France/Austria), Norman and Elena Foster (Switzerland/ USA), Archivo Lafuente (Spain) and Ivorypress (Spain), among others—, artists’ studios—including the studios of Olafur Eliasson (Germany), Roni Horn (USA), Jenny Holzer (USA), Miquel Barceló (France) and Peter Sacks (USA)—and several institutions—like the Victoria and Albert Museum (United Kingdom), Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Spain) and the Brosky Center (USA), among others.
Other artists’ books published in the last few decades are also on display, from publishing houses such as Toluca (France), Onestar Press (France), RVB Books (The Netherlands), Steidl Verlag (Germany), Turner Libros (Spain) and Limited Editions Club (USA), as well as those published by Ivorypress.
Also on show object books or very small editions created by contemporary artists such as Paul McCarthy or Anselm Kiefer, which are displayed alongside pictorial and sculptural books where there is little or no text. These are works in which the images, sculptures or paintings are brought to the fore. In this section, the exhibition will include editions by Francisco de Goya, William Kentridge or Anthony Caro, among others. Artist books made by leading figures of contemporary art like Louise Bourgeois or Damien Hirst are also on show.
In some of the copies, the design and the materials chosen are the centre of attention. From the folding of paper in books such as those of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Lucio Fontana or Hiroshi Sugimoto, to the use of natural materials, like in Richard Long’s edition. In others, however, the book becomes a vehicle for the expression of a protest or a manifesto, as is the case with the books of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Santiago Sierra or Martin Parr. The show will also include books in which there is only text, like those of Jenny Holzer or Isidoro Valcárcel Medina.
In many artists’ books there is a dialogue between literature and the visual arts. This includes historical collaborations between artists and poets such as the book by Aleksandr Ródchenko produced with Vladimir Mayakovsky and other examples that illustrate or shape literary texts by writers such as Octavio Paz or Stéphane Mallarmé alongside painters such as Robert Motherwell or Balthus.
Finally, the photobook is also represented in the exhibition Books beyond Artists with works from different time periods, from artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sophie Calle, Miguel Rio Branco or Ai Weiwei.
Parallel to the exhibition there was a panel discussion entitled ‘Artists’ books in the 21st century: cult objects?’, on 24 February at 12:00, which included the participation of Irma Boom, typographer and graphic designer; Peter Sacks, artist and professor of poetry at Harvard University (USA); Rowan Watson, head of Collections Development in the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, United Kingdom). The discussion was moderated by Elena Ochoa Foster, founder and CEO of Ivorypress.