Sep 302017
 

We have a had a run of interesting, unusual fine press and/or artists books land recently, but this stood out and I thought I’d throw up a quick overview:

Julie Rafalski, Tahu Deans and David Henningham re-enacted Cold War psychic drawing experiments in a Leipzig building that had formerly housed an East German supercomputer. They also reconstructed the computer as a set to be reconfigured and photographed.

These pictures, films, drawings and transcripts make up the content of this book. Operating like the distinct CMYK dots that merge optically to form a full-colour picture, the artists have worked together to take the viewer through corridor spaces, doctored photographs, and a psychic spying apparatus redolent of the building itself. Not every page is accessible without the use of a knife.

And because gilding the lily is always a good thing…

The books are editioned using a vector-based system so that each book is assigned a non-hierarchical relationship to the others.

Apr 242017
 

For those who have seen the proto-type for Maureen Cummins’ newest work we were showing in CA and NYC, we are pleased to say that the work is complete and ready. Maureen just forwarded the following prospectus, which summarizes the work quite perfectly:

The/rapist is an investigation into the gendered history of psychosurgery, as illustrated by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972). A Professor of Neurology with no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman popularized the pre-frontal lobotomy, an operation in which nerve connections to and from the frontal lobes—the seat of human emotion, creativity, willpower, and imagination—are severed. A self-styled showman who drove ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets, rode around in a “lobotomobile,” and conducted a 1953 tour dubbed “Operation Ice-Pick,” Freeman freely admitted that his work created a “surgically induced childhood,” with many “failed outcomes.”

It is a history that raises numerous and disturbing questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the 3,500 or more patients that Freeman operated on, twice as many were female, many depressed or suicidal housewives. Even now, electroshock—Freeman’s favored method of anesthesia—is applied to female patients two to three times as often as males.

In the opening pages of the book, Cummins uses the analogy of physical rape to suggest the way in which psychosurgery became a form of violence-against-women (and men) perpetuated in the name of medical progress. The concept is textually and visually reinforced as the reader pages through the book: the title, “The Rapist” morphs into the word, “Therapist?” while a laser-cut hole bores through the book, penetrating silkscreened images of patients’ heads. These headshots, “before-and-after” photographs that Freeman used to document his work, are re-contextualized, with lines of typography mimicking blindfolds, reclaiming for these patients a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. Throughout the book, the artist’s mordant sense of humor is in evidence: The name Freeman transforms into “Free Man,” while found images—everything from advertising cuts of arrows and pointing fingers to reproductions of Freeman’s ice picks—serve as illustrations, providing ironic counters to the subject matter, often—as with the sunburst, moon, and encircling question marks—cleverly incorporating the hole.

Constructed entirely out of aluminum, The/rapist is inspired by the cold, hard surfaces of medical clipboards and equipment, as well as by Freeman’s actual tools, viewed by the artist in the Freeman/Watts collection at GWU, where she conducted her initial research. Pages of the book are laser-cut, burnished on one side, printed with multiple layers of text and imagery, “dimpled” to prevent scratching and wear, then mounted within rings to a sturdy baseboard. The text is printed in Frutiger, a classic mid-century sans-serif typeface. Images reproduced in the book are 19th century engravings, handwritten notes and text, as well as graphs and headshots from Freeman’s 1950 textbook Psychosurgery: In the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain. The book is housed in a burnished aluminum box with a screwed-down aluminum title plate. For exhibition purposes, copies can be propped up vertically, with the backboard acting as a stand, or positioned with the pages fanned out in a pleasing sculptural form.

Detailed images are available upon request. As you may or may not know, the prices for Maureen’s work step when a certain number of sales have been hit. As this is an edition of 40, we encourage you to let us know as soon as reasonably possible should you wish to add it to your collection.

Mar 292017
 

We want to introduce you to a remarkable new work by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers, A Child of Books.

“A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.” [publisher statement]

The book itself is a charming and beautiful tale and can be found here. The true depth and breadth of the work, however, can be found only in the deluxe editions…and is a bit more dear. There were two states of the deluxe edition, one, however, was an edition of nine and all are already gone, so we will ignore it. Interestingly, the other deluxe is an edition of eighty (80!!!)…a number seldom a good idea in deluxe editions and for good reason. This, however, is the exception that defines the rule. Best, it is clearly designed with both the private collector and the special collections library in mind.

This edition comes with three components, all housed in a colander box. First is a signed first edition of the standard book. Then there is the Process Book, designed by Lewis Trevor and Sam Winston with the assistance of Becky Elms. This book provides elements of a ‘making copy’, detailing and exploring the collaborative process Sam and Oliver went through producing the story and images. Stab bound in the Japanese style by Manuel Mazzotti (London), it provides a wonderful view into the evolution of this remarkable story. Finally, this edition comes with 19 archival fine art prints, inkjet printed with pigment ink onto Hahnemühle Fine Art Bamboo Natural White. Signed by both Sam and Oliver, each embodies a full two-page spread of the story, larger and absolutely stunning. For special collections, there is even a ‘teaching guide’ included to help facility academic use.

Each illustration is a blend of Oliver’s whimsical sketches with the ‘textual art’ Sam is so well known for…manipulating text to create image. Here the texts are drawn from classic children’s books, (e.g the huge furry, horned monster threatening a castle is created from text from Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and then children escape by climbing down a rope made up of prose from Rapunzel). The blend of illustration styles and the tale itself creates a wonderful starting point to explore the nature of art and writing. It is, in brief, one of the very best things we’ve seen in a very long time. Additional information and images are available and can be found here and/or you are welcome to email.

Bonus: There is a lovely interview with Sam and Oliver, for those so inclined.

Mar 102017
 

Lux Mentis, Booksellers specializes in expanding the notion of the printed, constructed, and idea of the book. We have an enormous and diverse spectrum of material, from unusual first editions to carefully executed fine press to wildly esoteric books challenging not only the physical object of a book, but the content within. Our mission revolves around building, confronting, documenting, and supporting the printed, painted, and photographed world around us.  We work with a broad range of clients, from collaborating with institutional libraries and private collectors to build collections to supporting and inspiring young mind’s to collect and/or create books. We believe that at the heart of society, books are the brick and mortar that solidifies our identity making us accountable, responsible, and creative humans. It is our job as booksellers to help support that relationship.

#NYCBOOKFAIR2017 #NYABAA17

With that in mind, we like to represent many critical issues in our book selections, embodied by the work of both past and present creators. This year in New York we will showcase books and manuscripts that emphasize women as creators and feminist discourses. The following will be featured at our booth E5:

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wall Paper. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company, 1901. Second Edition. Rubbing to extremities, light shelf/edge wear, inscribed on the ffep, else tight, bright, and unmarred. Internally clean and fresh. Publisher’s yellow decorated glazed paper covered boards titled in a rather bilious orangey red. 12mo. 55pp. Very Good. Hardcover.
Inscribed to front flyleaf by the great lady herself:  “To Mrs. Beatrice Forbes Robertson Swinburne Hale! With Love of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. 1910” One of the greatest and most significant weird tales of the late 19th century, a story “not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy…” inscribed by its ground-breaking feminist author, to a friend and fellow fighter for woman’s suffrage on the occasion of her marriage. (#9123)        $22,500.00

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Yellow Wallpaper” 2e, inscribed by Gilman

Cummins, Maureen; Nicole Cooley [author]. Salem Lessons. High Falls, New York: Maureen Cummins, 2010. Limited Edition. Concertina, or “theatre in the round’ multi-folded artist book. Signed by artist and author. Fine in Fine Archival Box. Hardcover.
“Salem Lessons” was printed and produced by Maureen Cummins in the Winter and Spring of 2010, with typographic assistance from Kathy McMillan. The cycle of poems was created by Cooley specifically for this book; the accompanying images are from a penmanship book kept by a Salem, MA boy, Josiah Peele, during the years 1808 and 1809. The project traces the psychic reverberations of the Salem witch trials upon succeeding generations. It address–as all examinations of the trials do–our own modern time and situation. There are thirteen poems altogether, representing both the accusers and the accused, survivors and the condemned, but focusing on the trials and the treatment of women. — from the colophon and website. (#9247)    $2,500.00

Maureen Cummings – Salem Lessons

Jacobs, Diane. Object n. Object v. Portland, Oregon: Scantron Press, 2016. Limited Edition. Bright and unmarred. Wood and glass custom case with laser cut text, materials include glass, chicken egg shells, plaster, tangerine skin, gold leaf, acrylic balls, antique glass/aluminum slide mounts, India ink on vellum, oil paint, water color, human hair, wood, leather, aluminum combs, ceramic, military dog tags, and molded handmade cotton paper. np. Numbered limited edition of 4. Fine.
“object n., object v. was created to link present day gender inequality to our ancient past. Male control over women’s bodies and women’s sexuality continues around the world, as does the hierarchy of objective beauty. While the ancient Greeks were oppressing and objectifying women, an egalitarian society roamed north of the Black Sea. Legendary warrior women known as Amazons rode horses, practiced archery, fought to defend and conquer, and had sexual freedom. In this artist book I have juxtaposed two parallel worlds through objects and imagery. All the text is derived from two books that paint the picture and tell the story. Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation by Ruby Blondell and The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. When I read that self-reliant warrior women existed in the ancient world I was inspired and I wanted to share that knowledge to rekindle a collective vision of equality.” [artist statement] (#9240)        $10,000.00

Diane Jacobs Object v. Object

 

Feb 262017
 

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is right around the corner! We have fashioned ourselves into a corner this year, literally. However, as always with amazing new delights to share! The gallery below is just a snippet of our booth in New York, link to our show list will be available next week.

As usual, a consistent selection of books arts, fine press, photography, ‘sex, death, and the devil’, in addition to our fondness for esoterica. We’ll have some ‘normal’ books too.

*If you would like passes to the New York Book Fair, please contact us*

SEE YOU THERE!!! #nyabaa17 #nyabf17

Feb 192017
 

We’re back! [for now]. We want to extend our thanks to everyone in Oakland for a successful book fair, organizers, patrons, and booksellers alike! We packed enough material for two booths and after we attended CODEX, we acquired more excellent material for another. CODEX was a truly inspirational experience, as we were able to seek out some new extremely provocative and important work from book artists, including Maureen Cummings, Diane Jacobs, Ximena Perez Grobet, Lorena Velazquez, Xiaoding Xu, and Xueling Dong.

We managed to organize our booth and showcase our collections, in the Lux Mentis way! Images first, a booth tour video at the end. Fun for all!

 

Feb 192017
 

We are starting what we hope/intend will be a regular element of the blog: images and/or video profiling various specific artists books. We debut with Jun Suzuki‘s metal meta masterpiece, In the Beginning. Part of Kaldewey Press’ artist book series (this being Kaldewey 7), it is an elegantly simple piece of work, concealing subtle complexity.

The limited edition of thirty-five is comprised of hinged metal sheets (oxidized) with red ink Japanese characters and the English equivalent in cut-out letters…and one letterpress printed leaf tipped in. It is housed in a slipcase designed ‘spine up’, so that the leave hang free.

The book illustrates the process of the creation of language. The last page includes the first sentence of the earliest known work of Japanese literature. The work is found in a handful of special collections and we have not found another copy in the market in at least a decade.

Dec 122016
 

While it has been easy to be a pessimist at this time of year, especially in lieu of worldly affairs, in spirit of Jolabokaflod in Iceland, we continue to celebrate the book and specifically the art of the book. We are pleased to release another catalogue list at the end of the year: “[Artist [Book] Art]: Exploring the nature of the black arts,” and like the title suggests is a selection of some of our recent book art and fine press titles from various talents representing the medium. Please visit our catalogue list here.

Please remember to mark your calendars as the next two big book fairs are rapidly approaching: the California ABAA Fair will be from Feb. 10-12 and the NYC ABAA Book Fair will follow, March 9-12.  We will be showing at both, do let us know if you need a pass or two (there will be a reminder after the first of the year

Enjoy!

Oct 042016
 
What we do is secret

What we do is secret

YABS is really well-timed, so after 3 days of instruction and dialogue, you can put your study to practice at the York National Book Fair. I’ve done a few fairs already, but it’s always something new to see and find.  I helped out Jonathan Kearns this year, but we were able after the initial opening to scout around ourselves.

Jonathan Kearns Rare Books & Curiousities

Jonathan Kearns Rare Books & Curiosities

A special find for me, in my opinion, was a 1810 “family” herbal from Sir John Hill, another one of these folk herbalists who despite their university training, found herbal remedies compelling for the layman.  The text block was re-cased splendidly, with hand-colored illustrations at the end.  Lux Mentis will bring this and many other good finds from York to the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair 2016 at the end of October! Halloween weekend, in fact! Here are just a few more images of delicious items we found and more to feature in a Boston pre-list soon:

 

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