Official website of the Foundation Juan March
Un Coup de Livres Artists’ Books and Other Publications form the Archive for Small Press & Communication

June 18, 2010 - October 31, 2010

Stéphane Mallarmé’s well-known dictum, "all earthly existence must ultimately be contained in a book" saw a resurrection in the art world during the 1960s. Books broke away from their role as a mere support for text, thus acquiring the status of an "art object" able to "compete" with other works of art. Antecedents to this form of art can be found in the fine books edited, illustrated, and designed by avant-garde artists in the early twentieth century. During the 1960s and 70s, this medium acquired features of its own: the concept of creating a book as a work of art altered its visual appearance. Some books were transformed into documents recording "actions" or performances, whereas others were conceived as self-referential objects or vehicles for conceptual, verbal, and material experiments. Conceptual artists, as well as those who believed the artist was an agent of social change, were especially inclined towards this form of art.

The present exhibition features a selection of "works" dating from the 1960s and 70s, consisting mainly of books but also including multiples, magazines, and audiovisual material by twenty-four artists. The pieces on display draw from the Archive for Small Press & Communication (ASPC) at the Weserburg Museum in Bremen, the first museum in the world to house an independent section devoted to artists’ books. This museum also created a research center which holds a collection of artists’ publications dating from the 1960s and 70s, thus representing the work of hundreds of artists from more than twenty-five countries. More than 35.000 publications and documents comprise this collection and provide a complete overview of the most influential art movements from the 1960s onwards: Conceptual art, Fluxus, Land art, Minimal or Pop art. The archive’s creator, Guy Schraenen, is the guest curator for the present exhibition. An editor, essayist, filmmaker, and exhibition curator, Schraenen founded the group Cela (1957/62), as well as Kontakt gallery (1965/78) and the publishing company Guy Schraenen éditeur (1973).

Christian Boltanski, Livres (Detail: Books, ephemera, record). París: AFAA; Paris: Jennifer Flay (ed.); Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König; Frankfurt am Main: Portikus. © Bettina Brach.