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ARTISTS’ BOOKS

The “Artist’s Book” concept, an expression that appeared at the end of the 19th century in England, changes over time and from country to country (mainly England, France and after 1960 the USA). If we limit ourselves to the artist’s book with prints, we can reach to a definition that contains various criteria. The first four are necessary; the others contribute to the quality of the work. Prints must be authentic, printed from the plate. The consequence of this criterion is the next one, a limited number of printings (sole copy or even less than five hundred copies, often numbered, signed by the printmaker). Moreover, the work has to be a book, i.e. pages that form a unit, with or without text. If there is a text, the dialogue between the author and the artist is necessary (virtual dialogue, when the printmaker interprets the text of an “absent” author, real dialogue when they cooperate, self-talk when the author and the printmaker are one and same person). The top Artist’s Book is the one that is invented, written (block-book or handly typesetted text), illustrated, set up, printed and published by the artist. Other criteria may be added which increase the value of the work: paper’s high quality and number of copies.

The artist’s book Topo-analysis of new printmaker Eleni Panagidou consists of a hard cover and prints (created using the blind embossing technique) cut and put together so they form an accordion book. It belongs to the series of works (with the same technique) Topo-analysis. Totally handmade, with a dark “mute” cover, it contains 12 embosses, 2 as inside front and back covers and 10 as double pages. This is an artist’s book par excellence.

Nicos Nicolaides’ work is original and valuable. For his last book, a satire with a particularly mocking mood, The Book of the Monk, he creates an artist’s book: being the author and the artist, he lithographs the totality of his work: the front and back cover, the title page, the text, the decorations and the colophon; even the text itself is stone lithographed. It was first published in autumn 1951 in 150 numbered copies at “Société L’Art Graphique” in Cairo (softcover book, with pages of irregular shape). The copy of Hambis Printmaking Museum is one of 500 copies which form the second edition, in 1955, similar to the first one, other than the end of the colophon.

El Cincuate, published in 1998 by young printmaker Salvador Pizarro from Mexico is a very impressive book. Number 1 of the print run, the copy of Hambis Printmaking Museum, consists of 10 linocuts. Moreover, the double page with the names of the artists and the reviewer of the text, the cover and the back cover – colophon are also linocuts. They are all signed by the printmaker using a pencil. In order to publish a traditional folk tale of Mexico, Pizarro brings back to life the oldest technique of printed book, the block-book where both the text and the picture are cut into the wood block.

Although the print run of the book is quite big (1,500 numbered copies), Lysistrata may be considered as an artist’s book. This last personal publication of A. Tassos includes 24 colour woodcuts for which 110 different blocks were used to render the colours. The woodcuts were printed by Aspioti Elka, from March 1976 to August 1978. All copies are signed by A. Tassos. This is an excellent publication in folio on Glastonbury antique laid. As artistic advisor of the printing house Aspioti-Elka since 1948, the printmaker participates directly in the making of the book.

The two-volume Le Rivage des Syrtes is the first and only illustrated edition of the novel by Julien Gracq, who did not accept any other illustrated editions. This is a bibliophile edition rather than an artist’s book; however the dialogue between the orientalist painter-printmaker and the text is excellent. The book was published in 175 copies with 50 authentic engravings. The traditional printing, the quality of the velin de Rives paper, the appearance of the two-volume book in pages, in a soft gray cover and slipcases, allow us to present this publication among the artist’s books. Each copy bears the name of the buyer and it is signed by the artist. The copy held by Hambis Printmaking Museum is no LΧΧΧΙΙΙ (83) and it was purchased by Raymond Pinchard.

Recueil pour servir la médecine tibétaine: a very original publication by Jean-Paul Marchal, printmaker and printer, since he created it all almost by himself, other than the text on medicine and the clichés of the old Tibetan prints («for the protection of a fraction of the Human Heritage», says doctor Lobsang Wangyal). He draws and cuts the images (woodcuts), typesets, sets the layout, prints every composition in his manual press. The 50 copies of the Recueil pour servir la médecine tibétaine (Collection for the illustration of Tibetan medecine), are printed on velin de Rives paper. A hard case contains unstitched and unnumbered 36 pages, a folded woodcut 50 cm x 50 cm and a silk ceremonial scarf (khata).

Printed on Fabriano paper and numbered (AP 10/10) in 2005, with cover and slipcase, the in folio book in sheets Cinyras, King and Hierophant is an artistic dialogue between 12 poems by Athena Charalambidou and 12 colour lithographs by Andreas Charalambides, in a bilingual edition (Greek and English). Each copy is signed by the author and the printmaker and at the lower margin of each lithograph the printmaker’s stamp (AX) is embossed. Each poem is accompanied by a lithograph. The book contains poems about Cinyras, a mythical king, founder of Paphos, with decorated initials and page numbers.