Saturday, April 23, 2011

Warja Lavatar, Le Souverain et son Bouffon: Ballade 3, Les Amis de Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1988


Warja Lavater (1913-2007) was a Swiss illustrator and designer who adopted the accordion format for all her artists' books. A neglected contemporary of Edward Ruscha, she published her first artists' book (William Tell) in 1962, the same year Ruscha published his first (26 Gasoline Stations). 1.75" (H): 23.73" (L)


The text below is from a press release from Printed Matter (New York) for an exhibition of Lavater's works that runs from 
April 23rd, through May 28, 2011.

Printed Matter is pleased to announce the opening of Warja Lavater: Bookworks 1951-1991 from the Estate of Tony Zwicker, an exhibition of work by the Swiss artist and illustrator. The show brings together over 50 items on loan from the collection of Tony Zwicker—a longtime patron, collector and friend of Lavater—and represents an appreciable portion of the artist’s output over the course of a prolific career. The broad selection of material includes rare and small-run artists’ books, as well as original drawings, posters, prototypes and related ephemera. The exhibition runs Saturday, April 23rd, through May 28, 2011, at the Printed Matter storefront.

Well known for her leporellos—extravagant accordion-fold books—Lavater created a wonderfully imaginative body of work that moves fluently through materials and mediums. Done in ink, watercolor, dry point, lithography, linoleum-block printing and with blind embossing, many of her book-sculptures are double-sided and uniquely shaped, sometimes featuring unconventional material like burlap and plastic baubles. Several of the works have been created on paper hand-made and hand-dyed by the artist.

Exploring the fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen, Lavater produced a series of books that abstract and distill the original story into movements of color and form. Characters and objects are translated into dynamic symbols (a legend on the first page of each book lays out the equivalencies—Little Red Riding Hood is, for instance, a little red dot) and the familiar story emerges through her arrangement and repetition of these shapes. The result is a playful Structuralist reading into representation and the nature of storytelling— a Borgesian map as rich and strange as the world it describes.

This collection of rare and original works, exclusively from the estate of Tony Zwicker, is being made available for purchase as a single offering. A limited number of individual items are also available. Please consult the website or emailKeith@printedmatter.org if you would like to see a checklist or receive additional information on the material.

Warja Lavater (September 28th, 1913 – May 3rd, 2007) was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. She worked as an artist and illustrator noted primarily for her work in the artists’ books genre, creating accordion fold books, book sculptures, and miniature books in a range of materials. Lavater opened her own studio for applied design in Zurich in 1937. Her early works were published by the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Paris-based publisher Adrien Maeght. 

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