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.

Sep 252017
 

We have just received three copies(!) of Jamie Murphy’s simply brilliant edition of J. Swift’s Modest Proposal. We will soon(ish) have three(!!!) copies of the deluxe edition, too. I have trouble reducing to words just how much I adore this work, but if you will bear with the simulacra of various images, I will try to convey the exquisite power and delicacy in execution embodied in this work. As you likely know,  A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, more commonly known by its short-title, is Swift’s 1729 satirical pamphlet suggesting the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. It was a hastily printed pamphlet, modest in execution. The Salvage Press’ edition is not…it is rich in dark leather and marbled paper and monumental in size: imperial folio.

Jamie approaches the work from both a modern-situational aspect, but also from a profoundly personal one, with not one but two children with a rare genetic condition. “I had heard of A Modest Proposal years before but hadn’t read it until this period. The text seemed relevant and current – are the Irish not still in a shocking financial condition? Are we not still being plundered by absentee landlords? Are our children not about to incur the fallout from a previous generation’s mistakes? I started to think about reprinting the text. My daughter Olivia was born in 2016, presenting signs of the same genetic condition as my son. I knew they would have to be involved, and in one way this project was designed to mark their births.”

Jamie approached David O’Kane to illustrate the work, as he felt David’s preferred technique, scratching an image directly onto lithography stones, would create a rather haunting effect. Jamie’s suggesting that David use images of his children for inspiration, while challenging, nevertheless helped shape and shadow the remarkable power of the images.

David notes, “Swift’s voice was critical of those in power but also of the exploited masses and their deference to that power. In this sense it is still critically relevant today. The baby in the deanery dining table image appears to be eating her own hand, while simultaneously pointing an accusatory hand toward the viewer. The empty chairs await the hungry landlords. The question raised by the image is whether we want to pull up a seat at this horrific meal or find another way of setting out the table?”

Jamie asked Jessica Traynor to write nine new poems, each responding to the original text. Like the others, her contribution also integrated current events. As Jessica recalls, “So much history unfolded around me as I worked on the poems – the migrant crisis bled into Brexit, bled into the Citizens’ Assembly, bled into the Trump presidency, and I wrote poems in response to all of these events. But it would be impossible to write about the Ireland of the 21st century without writing about direct provision [the system of dealing with asylum seekers].”

The result is that rare Aristotelian work, with the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts. It is wry, and soul-draining, and funny, and touching, and brilliant, and challenging, and so much more…all once. You can return to it over and over and find something new in the image, prose, poetry, and/or design that you missed before. It is, simply, brilliant.

Jamie commissioned a wonderful video that explores the creation of the work and The Irish Times wrote this wonderful article on the work, rich with additional information and well worth a read. Enjoy both. We hope to have a standard at the Boston ABAA book fair, though there are fewer than 10 copies remaining. A complete description can be found here. I will almost certainly have one of the Deluxe editions, however, as they are a fair bit more dear…but that is for another time [teaser: 5 unique back-painted bindings, each reflecting a major theme]. Finally, that Jamie is barely 30 bodes well for the future. He has produced some remarkable work (see, e.g. Albert, Ernest & the Titanic)…but this hints of things to come. I, for one, cannot wait.

A Modest Proposal from ror conaty on Vimeo.

 

Jul 242017
 

I have had the great pleasure of working with Gabby Cooksey since she burst forth from North Bennet School and began inflicting her genius upon the world. I had the great pleasure of placing her first binding in Univ. of Virginia’s Special Collections and the greater pleasure of watching her explore, evolve, and expand with each new work. I have said since I saw her first work that she makes design decisions as a new, now young, binder that I would expect from one with decades under her belt… Part of this is to NBS’s credit, but much has to do with Gabby’s profoundly subtle and sophisticated way of looking at her projects and finding elegant solutions at nearly every turn…

It was not long before she branched out and began writing text, creating art, and printing all elements of some projects. Thus we have today’s gem: The Book of Penumbra, of which Gabby writes,

“Death has always fascinated me because it happens to all of us yet no one talks about it. I wanted to see what other cultures personified death as through myths and legends. The gods in this book are very hushed and for some, even if you speak the name, you’ll be cursed. I wanted this book to be shadows, to be played in the light. I chose a delicate paper so one could see through to the page behind it. The text is in all sorts of shapes because I wanted each story to represent the god being told about. For instance, Sedna is in the shape of drowning, Anubis is his eye, Mac is a pit with someone at the bottom. The borders are all plants, roots, and things found on the earth. Some represent death like the poppy, and the yew tree.”

Completed in an edition of 23, bound in wraps, and housed in a box with an inlaid coffin, it is a beautiful bit of work. As she is seldom content with ‘exquisite’, I received a package out of the blue and found a one-off art binding of the book with seven skulls suspended by gold in the cut-through front board (insert above). Always pushing, always expanding…ever brilliant. I am always excited about what she will produce next. Explore the book below…

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.

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

Aug 012016
 

If you didn’t catch the catalog releases in June for RBMS, we are listed for July’s latest rare book catalog releases [Scroll down to Lux Mentis]: http://www.abaa.org/blog/post/rare-book-catalogs-July-2016

Show some love to ABAA and the New Antiquarian blog!

The New Antiquarian blog logo

Apr 212016
 

book-of-eli-quote

Part of the experience of a book fair, and not one overly discussed for a reason, are the partnerships and the collaborative aspects of the book trade. You don’t necessarily have to go at this alone. Your comrades have your back (or your spine, [excruciating pun intended]) which plays out when scouting or acquiring other material to add to the overall inventory.  How many times have you heard, “Oh, X, would love/need this!?” If you are willing and able, then serendipity has its moments, in addition to critical partnerships.

It was excellent for me to work along side Brian Cassidy, veteran bookseller and long-time Lux Mentis booth partner; Michael Laird, newly discovered witchcraft buddy; book goddess, Kara Accettola; the adorable and sharp, Jonathan Kearns; and equally as adorable and bright, Simon Beattie. I would also like to recognize, the entire Pirages team [good lord, ya’ll need a drink], Ken Sanders and Travis Low [horns up], Fuchsia Voremberg [hugs], Tom Congalton, and Ashley Wildes. I think Ashley encompasses the entire fair sentiment in one image:

Ashley diffuses the situation with mermaid-like qualities, as Kim wishes Ian to contract mind fleas.

Ashley diffuses the situation with mermaid-like qualities, as Kim wishes Ian to contract mind fleas. [Note: drinks handled with appropriate care] [Addendum from Ian: This image amuses me in so very, very many ways. Adore you both.]

It would be remiss to not recognize some of the book artists and book binders, very important, as representing strong work is a pleasure and a privilege. Both Colin Urbina and Erin Fletcher make overwhelmingly inspiring work, glad to have them in both physical form and function appearing in New York; Michael Kuch, again mind-blowing work; Peter Bogardus; Russell Maret, exceptional new work; Nancy Loeber, representing both fairs [shadow fair]; Christina Amato; Leslie Gerry; Mindy Belloff; María Verónica San Martín; Peter Koch; newly acquired book artist Alexandra Janezic; and of course, the dynamic duo of Marshall Weber and Felice Tebbe at Booklyn. [Do I sound like a broken record or an Oscar speech? geez.]

So, what’s next? Fortunately, we were able to jump over to the “shadow” shows both uptown and across the street to visit both book artists and snap up some “brutally cool” items for down the road to make appearances in iterations of catalog lists forthcoming.  What did strike our fancy this year? A selection of things that caught our eye:

 

Apr 192016
 
No. We're good. We fang it!

No. We’re good. We fang it!

Every fair set-up and break down is a challenge, an adventure, and a chore. In the art world, “installation” is when the vision is cemented for the curator or artist.  Without being to fussy, installation at a book fair is similar, in that, a bookseller has the option to design visual gestalt with a display, to tell a story, or even to offend, dazzle, and educate. With that, part of the concept is driving an aesthetic attachment for a potential person to immediately hone in on something they absolutely desire to acquire for personal or pragmatic reasons.

Again, the thematic diatribe of Lux Mentis to “mock conventionalism” emerges case by case with groupings of “sex, death, and devil,” artist’s books, fine press, esoterica, and other bits of seemingly harmless or seemingly objectionable material. The process can sort of look like this:

When it is all said and done, you can hear Ian blather on in a nice little package with sound and image! Useful words and phrases to add to your regularly rotated vocabulary: “brutally cool” “spectacular” “just exquisite” “interesting bits” “fabulous” “astounding”. You can also learn how to properly stroke your beard.

What is important to note is while we go gangbusters with stuff, selection is important, as well as time management, you can fiddle around with one shelf for hours, believe me.  That being said, all in all, installation was smooth and considerate, every shelf both notes and confronts a narrative.  See for yourself.

 

Next time: Gettin’ granular, or how to give good looks and books.

 

Apr 172016
 

We are pleased to offer a (reasonably) brief tour of our booth at the 2015 ABAA book fair. It was a great weekend (report and images to follow).

Apr 052016
 

The epic romance continues between the two American coasts, as the beginning of the year jumps in two major ABAA Book Fairs… the California Antiquarian Book Fair (February) and the equally as engaging and immense, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair [April]. Each fair having their own peculiarities, personalities and local fanfare, and honestly, not without their own biases.

West Coast

The California fair flips between their estranged cousins of North and South hosts; this year held inland Los Angeles, more specific a sparkling bright and colorful, Pasadena. Mind you, east coast or rather booksellers coming from anywhere else outside of Southern California almost know they are escaping frigid temperatures from their homes, this year was unseasonably hot with days reaching the upward 90s. Take care, so the books don’t sweat.

It is always within the scope of the best vice and virtue, so to speak, to bring out the “sexy.” Lux Mentis never shy to vice and more vice, taunts the sensibilities with color, format, and content with a moderate collection of items that fall under the “Sex, Death, and the Devil” tease. Partly to challenge the normalized sense of the book and partly to possibly offend a casual buyer who just might be tempted enough leave their morals at home.

Sex, Death, and the Devil

Sex, Death, and the Devil

This year saw the debut of two major collections of material both very California and both very seething with equal parts naughty and “nice.”

The Daved Marsh Surfing Collection, a multi-faceted collection of books, magazines, pulps, and other ephemera, is a wild trip down the last several decades of surf history, but more so to capture the sleazy and exploitative end to surf culture. Daved Marsh, a surf bibliographer, first Gen SF punk, and rare book cataloger, coined the term “surfsploitation” to describe the lascivious, tongue-in-cheek, and racy nature of surf culture as seen through both mass and underground media. A visually compelling and downright dirty collection, it was a pleasure to have a snippet of material on view, and subsequently the collection found a new placement, ironically on the East Coast!

Daved Marsh Surfing Collection [top shelf]

Daved Marsh Surfing Collection [top shelf]

Sorry, New York, but the West Coast represents a massive chunk of the punk scene beginning in the late 70s too! Also featured in California fair were bits of the SST Records Collection and the art of renowned punk artist Raymond Pettibon. SST Records, the brainchild of Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn, boasts not just punk ephemera, like punk show fliers, but correspondence from the administrative end of the operation, zines, and even a Henry Rollins poseable action figure! Lux Mentis displayed the highly collectible and just plain damn awesome, original Raymond Pettibon artwork, but also an original handwritten letter from Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, discussing the album and included lyrics. 40 years of punk this year, and we still can’t quit it.

Raymond Pettibon, "Black Flag - My War" SST Records

Raymond Pettibon, “Black Flag – My War” SST Records

The satellite book fair, the LA Art Book Fair, was held downtown in Little Tokyo district; and without a doubt, the opening night was not a sight “untypical” of Los Angeles. The very hip and overly stylized gamut of young socialites grazed the scene. At one point, most tables saw bodies three deep. There were a couple of largely popular and personal favorites representing the fair, Printed Matter (the organizers), Division Leap, and the wildly adorable and politically poignant, Booklyn. We ended up snatching up a few dirty bits, as usual, but also chatted with our friend, Jenny Lens, prominent Los Angeles photographer and artist of the original LA punk scene.

Gay Pulp paperback collection

Gay Pulp paperback collection

Also quite digestible this year, are the fine selections of artist’s books and fine press publications that many of the Southern California academic libraries acquired for their collections. Special collections libraries at major universities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego maintain hugely representative and well-developed artist’s book collections, as always it is hugely delightful to pander to the collecting missions of these selective libraries. One of the major goals now and into the future is to support and advocate for emerging book art talent across the country. It would be my personal goal, also, to be a strong advocate for emerging book artists of color and queer and trans-identified book artists, so that their work is represented in library collections.

East Coast

In some ways, it is a nice swap to talk about the New York fair in the future tense, just so everyone can get a whiff of what’s to come. New York is an uncompromising city, no doubt. However, in its small geographic metropolis, the city demands a major chunk of bibliographic and artistic liberties. We hope to envelope ourselves in the energy and intellect of New York’s prolific institutions and sharp book collectors.

To continue the saga of our highly tragic theme, more sex will available for our daring clientele, but also a twist on the devil with some occult thrown in the mix, with a nice glaze of death, death, and more death. A personal favorite of mine, death is a transgressive topic of interest this year, as we are seeing more dialogue surrounding “end of life” transgression, as well as, the fashionable Victorian morbidity culture.

It is on more than one occasion, onlookers say, “you have the best booth” and without tooting our horn *too* much, although there is something to be said for pushing the envelope by challenging the notion of “antiquarian,” “rare,” and even the book format. Collecting and developing collections is by no means regulated to just “old brown books” and certainly by example, content and context play into scarcity as much as edition and age. With that in mind, for you curious creatures, here are some selections of newly acquired material and other provocative items to taunt you with for the New York Antiquarian Fair this week (Booth B-21). [Not responsible for faint of heart, nor coddling of weak-minded morality].

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