Friday, September 28, 2007

NY Art Book Fair: From the Frontlines


Sorry I have been quiet lately. Between the NY Art Book Fair in Chelsea and putting the final touches on the Sergio Larrain show, my days have been long and my writing abilities have been compromised. The good news is that I will have plenty of great little books to tell you about in the coming weeks.

For those of you who are not able to attend the NY Art Book Fair, here are some of the highlights that you will be missing. I attended the opening night preview which for the measly twenty dollar ticket price got me full of complimentary Grolsch beer and Christiania Vodka (beer before liquor never sicker), the David Shrigley entrance ticket art edition and access to two whole floors of great art books.

The first of my purchases was a set of small (very small) booklets from a Danish artist named Jesper Fabricius. These are from a series of booklets named Kunsthaefte and consist of only 8 to 12 pages of images in hand-stitched bound books. I will be doing a posting about Jesper later, so I’ll save the content for then. I had seen a few of his books at Printed Matter about a week before the fair and bought all that they had. Printed Matter apparently sells out of them so quickly that I was only able to purchase four of an ongoing series of 14 books he periodically self publishes under the name Space Poetry. I contacted Jesper directly via his website and asked if he still had copies of all of the books including the early “issues” which he agreed to sent with a friend who was attending the fair.

Here’s the odd part, Jesper Fabricius sent the books with his friend named Jacob Fabricius from Pork Salad Press who is an exhibitor at the fair. When I met Jacob, I automatically assumed they, Jacob and Jesper, were perhaps brothers but that isn’t the case. I was informed that not only are they not related but that Fabricius is also not a common name in Denmark. What are the odds of that? Two guys who share the same uncommon last name who are art book publishers from Denmark (and according to Jacob, they look somewhat alike but Jesper is older)…it all left me feeling like I was a pawn in some kind of elaborate scheme to keep an identity secret. Anyway…I’ll tell you about the books in a week or two.

The next pleasant discovery was of a gentleman from South Africa named David Krut. David runs a gallery in Africa and here in New York (we share the same building at 526 West 26th street) and one of his artists who he has published happens to be one of my favorites, William Kentridge. David’s gallery and publishing company offer books and DVD’s of Kentridge’s fascinating prints and animated films of which there is a new book that covers Kentridge’s recent adaptation and staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I happened to see one of the performances months ago when his production came to Brooklyn Academy of Music and was awed by the adaptation. My purchase from David was a copy of a book from 2006 called William Kentridge Prints. I will feature this book as well here at 5B4 at a later date.

Other interesting exhibitors on the first floor were Andrew Roth’s booth who most of you might know from his publication The Book of 101 Photo Books that was published a few years back. Spoonbill and Sugartown who is one of our hometown sellers from trendy Williamsburg Brooklyn was present with a selection of new and rare books. Anartist, who is an antiquarian bookseller with a great selection of titles; some affordable, some not. Librarie 213 from Paris who has an extremely fine collection of items in great condition that you will pay for the privilege of owning. Lots of Becher titles from both of those last two.

Lightreading, Inc. from Philadelphia is another photobook dealer, formerly Caney Booksellers of Cherry Hill New Jersey. I have known of them for years as I used to receive their mailed catalogs. Happens that my family lives not too far from where Joel Caney used to have his office which was packed wall to wall with photobooks and I used to stop by often unannounced to browse the shelves. Joel is a knowledgeable source on the topic of photobooks and has an added passion and love of them that seems to escape many dealers. My purchases last night were a copy of Marketa Luskacova’s Pilgrims for ten bucks and what I thought was an extremely good deal of a copy of Bill Burke’s They Shall Castout Demons for $75.00.


On the second floor notable exhibitors were Onestar Press out of Paris who has done a fine book of John Gossage called Dance Card Vol.2 which spans that prolific artist’s career. The Center for Book Arts, which for NY based book artists, is a valuable source for access to classes and facilities for book making. Nieves, the ‘zine-style publisher was there with copies of their two Larry Clark editions for 50.00 each (the rest average 6 dollars). Probably a steal at that price (and it is Clark photos from ‘the good ol’ days) but I refrained and am $100.00 heavier for it. (See…the twelve steps in action and working fine).

My other purchase from the night was from J & L. Jason Fulford and Leanne Shapton have what I think amounts to the coolest non-profit publishing company imaginable. Great design and interesting choices of work to feature, they consistently put out very affordable books that seem like they should be twice the price that they really are. Leanne was busy with a sideline of hand painted imaginary book covers (suggest a book title and she will create a painting version…she was working on J. G. Ballard’s Cocaine Nights when I was there). J & L has a new video release called appropriately J & L Video, of which I think they have more of those planned in the future. One recent book title that I bought from them was Darin Mickey’s Some Things I Gotta Remember Not to Forget which is a fine portrait in pictures of Darin’s father. I will be giving that book my full attention in a posting soon. These mentions are all just teasers, you’ll have to check back for the full treatment.

Lastly, Philip Aarons and AA Bronson of Printed Matter curated an excellent exhibit of Martin Kippenberger's artist books. Kippenberger created over 150 publications in his short life. Although I am still in the process of acclimating myself to Martin’s work, he is considered one of the most important book artists post Ed Ruscha and Sol Lewitt.

And the last of the “lastly’s” You all do remember that Saturday the 29th from 6 to 8 pm is the reception for the Sergio Larrain exhibition of books at the Eye Studio Gallery? Do I have to keep reminding you? 526 west 26th street #507 (5th floor). Be there and you may be in time for our supply of Peruvian beer that we have smuggled into the country all the way from Cusco via very tired llamas.

1 comment:

John Gossage said...

Jeff,

Beer and Llama burgers. I may come to NYC after all.

Have fun with the show.

John