How the Archive Artists' Books and More came to be
In 1976 the members of the Produzentengalerie Adelgundenstraße in Munich put forth the idea of an exhibit featuring books created by artists. I was inspired by this concept and subsequently put together a three part exhibit. The first part consisted of printed artists’ books; the second part was comprised of books that still incorporated elements of the traditional “book” and could be recognized as such; the third part in the series presented book objects. To accompany this exhibit I published a catalog, also in three parts. This catalog became the cornerstone for my publishing activities and was the foundation for the Archive.
I further evolved my concept for distributing artists’ books and the like from my many conversations with some of the leading representatives of the artists’ book scene at that time, among them, Walther König, Rolf Dittmar, Hans Sohm, and Armin Hundertmark. At the same time I began to publish artists’ books independently.
Between 1980 and 1987 I exhibited artists’ books at national and international fairs, i.e., ART-Köln, ART-Frankfurt, ART-Multiple in Düsseldorf, Frankfurter Buchmesse, the German Book Fair in New York and various smaller shows which featured art and book art.
Thanks to the many important contacts I made in connection with my participation at these events I was afforded excellent opportunities to buy, trade, acquire, and publish artists’ books and to gather valuable information about this special branch of artistic endeavour.
Due to the high cost of business, I stopped publishing artists’ books in 1987. Three years later I took over ARTIUM Publishers (later ICON Publishers) and was in a position to continue my publishing activities in the arena of artists’ books, and to refresh and widen my network of artists and collectors.
Today, the Archive boasts some of the leading libraries, private collections and dealers as clients. We do business in our European home markets of Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Italy, and Luxembourg, as well as in Japan and the USA.
The purpose and reason for my Archive was, and remains, the artists’ book, the artists’ magazine, and those objects and projects which are at home in the landscape of this artistic endeavour. This includes: multiples, posters, invitations, various recordings, photocopies, stamps, videos, CDs, and secondary literature which deals with the artists, such as catalogs for relevant exhibits. To a lesser degree are included everyday publications which afford a direct comparison with other artistic output of the era as well as critical evaluations and cataloging of these works within the framework of their time. The social and aesthetic ranking of the art in this way becomes transparent and accessible.
An important feature of the Archive is a website with open access to an online database with over 6000 entries. Additionally, there is an extensive list of artists as well as a link registry of over 270 international internet addresses.
Under no circumstances would my Archive include the so-called “bibliophile” books, maps, books about artists, and handmade books, as well as artists’ books of trend artists which one can readily acquire on the market at significant cost.
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