Offset printed black & white illus. throughout. Leporello (160 x 115 mm. closed), printed pictorial label on upper board, stiff paper boards. Rochester: Visual Studies Workshop, 1986.
One of Keith A. Smith’s works in leporello format, based on the pen and ink drawings from his unique Book 73 (1978-79), complemented with a poem by the artist; printed offset in an edition of 300. This work is dedicated to the photographer Philip Lange.
In his auto-bibliography, 200 Books, Smith (b. 1938) explains the origin of this piece, “I have always been afraid of water. I never took showers, only baths. Even then I filled the tub with only one to two inches of water and dampened my wash cloth to spot bathe. When I was 44, Philip Lange said he would teach me how to swim. He told me to start by taking baths with the tub half filled with water and to dip my head under. Then I was ready to go to the pool with him. He had taught many to swim, including babies. When we got to the pool the first time he said to me, ‘If you start to drown I will not save you; you might pull me under.’ This did nothing to increase my confidence in him, but he did teach me to swim and even to dive into the water. I still hate water, but can take showers. I have not gone swimming again since this book was made…
“It was important that the figures not be limited to the page size, but could be two or more pages wide. The final figure takes five pages. Yet the book is to be seen also in the manner of a codex, page by page, so the drawing on a single page or a two-page spread must be attractive.”
A scarce artist’s book, in pristine condition. Signed by the artist on the upper cover.
❧ K. Smith, 200 Books (2000), pp. 198-200.
J. Drucker, The Century of Artists’ Books (2004 ed.), p. 140-“Accordion books…have the uninterrupted flow of a scroll while also functioning as a book whose pages and openings can be accessed at any point in the sequence. Keith Smith’s Swimmer (1986) takes full advantage of this aspect of the accordion-fold work. A continuous text runs along the work as a footer — linguistic and linear — while the image of a naked male swimmer (dreamer?) floats through the blank fluid space. The movement of the body renders the space liquid, unfettered, unbound by limiting coordinates though it is literally the same surface which holds and supports the text. The duality of representation — the tension between surface and illusion — is thus manifest as is the other tension — that of flow and break which is the basic internal dialogue of a book form. Part of Smith’s skill is maximizing this tension even with the large open drawing of a figure which crosses boundaries between what he calls the ‘frames’ which are the panels of the accordion-fold work."
Item ID: 6996