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Talk of the Fairs - Books & More Books
by Mara Goldwyn

“The bibliophile is the master of his books, the bibliomaniac their slave”, so goes the aphorism.[i] If you’re anything like me, you’re consistently on the verge of breaking through the onion-skin-, or papyrus-, or parchment-thin border between the two. And it’s not just about reading, no. There’s a certain lust involved, an orientation, let’s call it, towards the physicality of the cover and the pages, the form. There’s also a certain excitement involved in the idea of multiples, editions, presses. Maybe it’s the idea that you can have a physical incarnation of a complex idea: you can live with it, grow old with it.

Whether it’s philia or mania that I have toward books, I haven’t yet found a reasonable explanation, I’m just drawn. Either way, I have to say, I’m enthusiastic about what Art Basel Miami Beach has to offer in terms of books, their covers, and what’s between them. At the fair there are numerous galleries presenting artist’s books and works that incorporate books, independent presses showing small editions, as well as distributors offering up special editions, rare and hard-to-find finds, catalogs and monographs.


Mark Ryden, Pinxit. Courtesy of Tachen.


Taschen, the beloved art book publisher, has been participating at Art Basel Miami Beach since its opening in 2002 and will also have a store set up at the fair.

Highlights for this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach will be their celebrated set “Modernist Cuisine” and the two-volume retrospective of Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, “Pretty Much Everything.” On December 1st, they will have the official world-wide showing of Mark Ryden's “Pinxit.” The launch party for the Ryden book will be a private party at the Soho House Miami on the night of December 1st in association with Paul Kasmin Gallery and Michael Kohn Gallery.

There is also a TASCHEN Store in Miami at 1111 Lincoln Road.

Printed Matter

The legendary thirty-five-year-old Printed Matter will be bringing a selection of artists’ book to Miami that represent the range of what they carry in their Chelsea, New York store. Many of the books and ‘zines on offer are affordable (between $8-$30) and are often published by the artists themselves or by small (struggling) presses. In a lot of cases Printed Matter is the only place to purchase these works.

On view will be an oversized pop-up book co-published by Printed Matter and Tauba Auerbach, as well as a portfolio of new 8 ½”x11” prints with artist Peter Sutherland. The portfolio, “Solar Flares,” will be introduced with a special launch at Art Basel.

Art Basel Miami Beach is also an opportunity for Printed Matter to show some their rarer, antiquarian items, such as first editions and other early, significant artist projects. In this vein they’ll be exhibiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Splitting” and “Wallspaper,” and Ed Ruscha’s “Business Cards” and “Records.”

Art Metropole

Sharing the booth with Printed Matter, Toronto’s Art Metropole will be selling artists’ books, editions and multiples from over 200 Canadian artists along with those of international artists in a global and intergenerational context.

The focus of Art Metropole’s booth in Miami this year will be a new publication entitled “Commerce by Artists” which “documents a fascinating and sweeping range of artists’ projects produced since the 1950s by Canadian and international artists who have sought to engage, rather than merely represent, the commercial world of which they are a part.”


Chris Ofili, Paradise by Night. Courtesy of Paragon Press.

Paragon Press

The twenty-five-year-old Paragon press publishes projects by contemporary artists who are invited to create a project in the form of a series or portfolio of prints. Many of the artists have previously had little or no exposure to printmaking.

This year Paragon Press will be showing an artist’s book by Chris Ofili entitled “Paradise by Night,” which includes ten lithographs and ten poems. The project came about through a poem that Ofili was sent by a poet in response to one of his paintings. Ofili liked the poem so much that he wanted to return the favor someday – so when he was invited to do this project he decided to commission poems and make a book of lithographs with them.

Parkett Art

Parkett also publishes in collaboration with artists—whose oeuvre is also explored in essays by writers and critics. Artists create special signed and numbered editions exclusive to Parkett, which can take any form from unique works of art to prints and multiples. At Art Basel Miami Beach they will be presenting the set of all fifty-five available Parkett Books, featuring 120 artist portraits and 800 texts.

Especially on view will be an edition by Paul Chan, “the Libertine Reader”: a silkscreen book cover made “as an homage to the power of knowledge contained within a book.”

During the fair, they will also be participating in Pringle’s of Scotland's pop-up store in Miami’s Design District in the store designed by Liam Gillick. Parkett will have a special section with a selection of books.

(Mosaic Building, 161 NE 40th St. )


John Lennon and Yoko Ono Wedding Album. Courtesy of Rhona Hoffmann Gallery. 

Rhona Hoffmann Gallery

Chicago’s Rhona Hoffman Gallery, founded originally as Young Hoffman Gallery in 1976, specializes in international contemporary art in all medias, and art that is conceptually, formally, or socio-politically based.

They have a specialty in artist’s books, and this year will present several manuscripts, catalogs, books and magazines from Vito Acconci, including the original Manuscript for "Avalanche” No. 6, 1972. A copy of John and Yoko's "Wedding Album" will be on view, as well as Wolf Vostell's 1966 "De-coll/age Happenings" (a mixed media book made up of a wooden box, a Matza cracker, Bromo Seltzer and a set of fifteen posters).

Travesía Cuatro Gallery

With their booth in Art Positions, Madrid’s Travesía Cuatro will present work by Marco Rountree, an artist who has often worked with “Intervened Books.” He will cover a whole wall with shelves filled with folded books.

“…The action of altering the book from its initial structure, converts it into another object, releasing it from its primary use (the reading) to turn it into a sculptural object with new formal connotations in which after every page has been turned, emerges a kind of code or graphic completely different from the letters or images that the book had in its origin.”

Art Basel Miami Beach promises to be a page-turner, bring your bookmarks.

[i] Hanns Bohatta, quoted in Nicholas Basbanes “A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books”.


--Mara Goldwyn, an artist and writer living in Berlin

(Image at top: Benedikt Taschen. Courtesy of Seth Browarnik

Posted by Mara Goldwyn on 12/2/11 | tags: books artist books

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