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Collections / January 30, 2017—

The Apartment


Artists and Photographs

In the 1960s, American Conceptual artists created books in which the photographic reproductions in offset prints on common paper are devoid of the artistic qualities usually characterizing art photography. In 1970, seven years after the publication of Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Ed Ruscha’s founding book, gallerist Marian Goodman published Artists and Photographs which bears witness to the development of these experiments. This box set, now historic, serves as a point of departure for a presentation made up of the most emblematic artists’ books from that period, kindly loaned by the Print Room of the Musées d’art et d’histoire in Geneva or belonging to the MAMCO’s collections.

Artists and Photographs, whose box was designed by Dan Graham, gathers books and print contributions (leaflets, booklets, objects, envelops) by nineteen artists represented by gallery Marian Goodman. Although 1,000 copies were initially printed, only 200 were finished. The box includes an introduction written by Lawrence Alloway in which the British art critic observes that all the photographs manifest a refusal of expertise and “glamour.” The break with previous practices is important as it is not anymore about distributing reproductions of works, but works themselves in a printed form.

Artists and Photographs is not only manifest of artists’ interest for the industrial photographic reproduction technique, but also shows how much the artist’s book has rapidly spread, helped by utopias of art’s democratization. Artists appreciate the advantages of this object whose stages of fabrication they can control and whose reproducibility and trade circuits allow for a wider and more diversified audience.

In parallel with this publication, a long-term loan at MAMCO, emblematic publications by Peter Downsbrough, Douglas Huebler, Hamish Fulton, Richard Long, Allen Ruppersberg and, of course, Ed Ruscha, are being exhibited; works which have redefined the fields of photography, books, and art, as much by their formal radicalness as by the new ideology they contain.