Book as Artwork, 1960/72 [20 September–14 October 1972].

47 pp. Small 4to (210 x 158 mm.), orig. black wrappers (upper corner creased), staple-bound. [London]: Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd., 1972.

First edition of this seminal exhibition catalogue, which features the first English translation of Celant’s essay on artists’ books, as well as an important list of nearly 300 then-unheralded artists’ books. Originally published in the first issue of the Italian magazine Data (Sept. 1971),the essay is recognized as one of the earliest in-depth examinations of the book form and its bearing within Conceptual art. Celant (b. 1940), the art historian and critic, organized several Arte Povera exhibitions in Italy in the 1960s and was later appointed senior curator of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim Museum. He also served as director of the 1997 Venice Biennale.

“Book as Artwork is poorly produced, as is acknowledged by the publishers, hence the fairly low price; however, it does make Germano Celant’s text available to an English-speaking audience…The text is disappointing; although it is one of the first pieces about book art as an adjunct of Conceptual art, it really amounts to a cobbling together of a series of annotations to the works, without any real analysis of the use of the book as a medium. Its value lies in Celant’s references to the significance of the book-form to certain artists, in its attention to Italian examples, and to the fact that he (and Lynda Morris) have attempted to produce a first list of examples of book art.”–C. Phillpot, “Feedback, 1973“ in Booktrek (2013), pp. 31-32.

The exhibition list (pp. 31-47), compiled by Celant and the art historian and curator Lynda Morris and presented chronologically, features many works that were completely unknown at the time. It includes works by Higgins, Oldenburg, Rot, Cage, Ruscha, Ono, Filliou, Kaprow, Knowles, Pistoletto, Siegelaub, Emmett Williams, Warhol, Acconci, Andre, Darboven, Byars, Nauman, Tuttle, Brouwn, Buren, Tom Phillips, Weiner, Kosuth, Baldessari, Broodthaers, etc.

Nice copy of a catalogue that is now rare on the market. Edges slightly worn. Printed in an edition of 800 copies.

❧ See also S. Klima, Artists Books: a Critical Survey of the Literature (1998), pp. 19-20. BoBoAB (2nd ed.: 2013) 3.

Price: $1,250.00

Item ID: 6826