"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955

A collection of artist journals, or, serial publications as a subset of the artists' book.

Editors Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, and Victor Brand present an extremely detailed study of artists' serial publications. Brand and the editors hoped to make "an aesthetic leap from what readers expect to find in a magazine or postcard to something of an entirely different artistic order." A quick look at the photographic reproductions reveals each serial as a piece of art. Though I didn't read all of the book's text, I would imagine that many of these artists were influenced by the publications of the Dadaists and Surrealists. It was probably assumed by the editors since the book deals with serials from 1955 onward. But, if you've seen the published work of Tzara, Picabia, Breton and the rest of the associated writers, poets and artists of the time, then that output is a fair approximation of what you will find in In Numbers. Of course, you'll see how the serial artform has evolved to become more violent, graphic, atmospheric and occasionally even more daring than the dada/surrealist groups had been.

One of the more interesting journals profiled is Amokkoma, which has existed since 1992, published by Klaus Baumgartner, Carsten Holler and Johannes Lothar Schroder with Diego Castro. The first issue reproduced the final chapter of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species, with artists' photographs around the text: photographs that have biological elements to the work.

There's reproductions and text from Situationist Times, Semina, Die Schastrommel/Die Rossel (which was a vehicle for Gunter Brus confrontational work), and Permanent Food (constructed from images from magazines), amongst others.

This book is a great way to educate oneself on the history of artist serials, from those who weren't aware of their existence to the casual reader and the committed collector.

1 comment:

Tosh said...

This is a total 'fab' book. It is beautifully produced and presented.