Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Christoph Benjamin Schulz (editor), Die Geschichte(n) Gefalteter Bücher: Leporellos, Livres-Accordion und Folded Panoramas in Literature und Bildender Kunst. [The Histories of Folded Books: Leporellos, Accordion Books and Folded Panoramas in Literature and Fine Art], Georg Olms Verlag: Hildesheim, Zurich, New York, 2019

It was an exciting day when this wonderful book about artists' accordion books dropped into my mailbox. Coming in at just under 600 pages the book is comprised of 19 texts by eighteen authors, with thirteen chapters in German, four in English and two in French. This book is exactly what this neglected area of artists' book publishing has needed for many years, and it succeeds admirably in filling out a history of this book form ranging from the 14th century to the contemporary moment.

Here is the publisher's description of the book:

The contributions of this first international overview of the phenomenon of folded books cover 600 years of Occidental book history: It ranges from medieval books and harlequinades of the early modern period, through foldable pages in bound books, to Leporellos, Folded Panoramas and Livres Accordéon and experienced a veritable heyday in the 19th century. 

Folded formats were used for calendars and chronologies, for panoramas and overviews, as well as for parade and procession prints, as well as for typographical paper image galleries and illustrated children's books. In the 20th century, folded books experienced an international renaissance both in experimental literature and in the context of the artist's book.

The material expansion of the book body is far more than a surprising effect: it allows for other forms of staging content than are possible on the pages of bound books - and, accordingly, other reading experiences. Books that can be unfolded are transformed in the eyes of their beholders. When folded, a leporello can be leafed through and viewed sequentially, but it can also be unfolded selectively or unfolded in its entirety - and dissolve in that sense.

The haptic dimensions of appropriation and the semantic potentials of (de) folding processes play a central role in this process. As an aesthetic strategy, folding is multifaceted and complex, especially in the context of history of books. And so the richly illustrated stories of folded books collected here raise a hitherto undiscovered treasure of book history. 

Christopher Schulz, the editor, introduces the book with a fascinating chapter on the early history of the accordion fold through different time periods, and within diverse literary contexts. I only wish my German was up to the task of translating this very important historical text!  All the other texts explore accordions from both the world of visual arts as well as the literary arts, and there's a nice range and variety to the choices. I'm also happy to have a text by myself included in this selection. Schulz should be congratulated on bringing into the world a book that explores so thoroughly, this totally unique book form and medium.

I'm listing below the chapter titles and language of all nineteen sections of the book...and here's a link to PDFs of them all: The story (s) of folded books: Leporellos, Livres-Accordéon and Folded Panoramas in literature and visual arts | OMP Ruhr University Bochum

Chapter Headings and language

Christoph Benjamin Schulz (German)
The stories of folded books

Sebastian Schmideler (German)
Leporellos in the work of the Munich book artist Lothar Meggendorfer

Ulrich Ernst (German)
Dynamic typography - orphist painting - bruitist music. Blaise Cendrars' and Sonia Delauney's avant-garde simultaneous book La Prose du Transsibériean

Susanne Gramatzki  (German)
Poetry in dialogue: Paul Éluard's poem Liberté as a Leporello

Viola Hildebrand-Schat (German)
Conceptual and functional varieties of leporellos in the context of Russian bookart.

Anne Moeglin-Delcroix (French)
Three artists' points of view on the leporello: Peter Downsbrough, Bernard Villers, Hamish Fulton

Anne Thurmann-Jajes (German)
Between artistic documentation and conceptual penetration - leporellos by Isidoro Valcårcel Medina and Timm Ulrichs

Stephen Bann (English)
Ian Hamilton Finlay's folding poems and concertinas

Thomas Hvid Kromann (German)
Foldable flats with enigmatic signs: Danish avant-garde leporellos since the 1960s

Klaus Ottmann (English)
Objects of seduction: James Lee Byars's scrolls and accordion-folded performative paper sculptures

Carol Jana Ribi (German)
Warja Lavater's folded stories. Work genesis and aesthetic impact

Monika Schmitz-Emans (German)
Leporellos in the work of Horst Janssen

Klaus Meyer-Minnemann (German)
Octavio Paz: Blanco - an accordion poem

Christoph Benhjamin Schulz (German)
Folded texts and leporellos in avant-garde literature and experimental poetry

Katarzyna Bazarnik (English)
A stroll through Polish leporellos: some 'Liberatic' and other accordion-folded works

Christianne Dahms (German)
Leporellos as visual staging of literary texts: Baudelaire, Rilke, Stein, Hofmannsthal

Jean Fremon (French)
The accordion books of the artist/poet Etel Adnan

Stephen Perkins (English)
Accordions at the border: Codex Espangliensis (2014), Migrant (2014) and Detained (2011)

Melanie Unseld (German)
Conducting applause: or Laetitia Devernay's attempt at leporello as score


  1. congratulations Perkins, how exciting for your article to be included in this important work of accordion book history, viva!