Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Course of the Moselle from Trier to Koblenz with side descriptions, Karl Rud. Bremer & Co., Koln, Germany, nd


It's only very recently that I came across a whole new genre of accordion publications called "strip maps." This rather unique form of cartographic representation has been around for quite a long time, as early as 2000 B.C. The panoramic feature of the accordion format is clearly well-suited to mapping things like the Great Wall of China or the Mason-Dixon line, but strip maps are more traditionally associated with travel. This example illustrates one popular type, the strip map of a river. 

If you are interested in going deeper into the fascinating world of strips maps, this great article by Alan M. MacEachren titled A Linear View of the World: Strip Maps as a Unique Form of Cartographic Representation (1986), is the place to start: download

12 single-sided pages, individually 6.25" x 3.75" and when fully opened 3' 9".






The accordion strip map open at the first page


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rick Barton, Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton, The Morgan Library and Museum, June 10 - Sept. 11, 2022, New York

Richard Barton, Untitled Sketchbook, 1961

Richard Barton, Untitled Sketchbook, 1962

I'm in the early stages of researching the history of artists' accordion books, and similar to that of artists' books, both mediums establish themselves in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

One early, and important artist, who used the accordion format was the Lebanese-born artist and writer, Etel Adnan (1925-2021). Adnan produced accordion books throughout her career and they form a key part of her artistic output, producing her first accordion book by at least 1960. Key to Adnan's adoption of the accordion format was her encounter with the artist Rick Barton (1928-1992) in a cafe in San Francisco in the early 1960's, and it was here that she witnessed his practice of doing line drawings of the cafe's interior and people into accordion books. She was struck by the possibilities of the accordion's unique format and she proceeded to adopt this medium, particularly after Barton gave her one of his half-finished ones to complete. Adnan would go on to produce numerous accordion books combining both text, drawing and paintings throughout her career.

So, it was very exciting, to come across a recent exhibition of Barton's works at the Morgan Library and Museum earlier this year. The show consists of a large number of his beautiful line drawings as well as a couple of his 20ft long accordions. This link to the Morgan's exhibit documents the show and includes other interesting material about this mysterious artist and a cool video that features his work and accordion books. 

Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton | The Morgan Library & Museum

For more info about Adnan on this blog follow this link:  accordion publications: Etel Adnan, Leporellos, Galerie Lelong & Co., January 23 - March 7, 2020, Paris.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Nicholas Galanin/Yéil Ya-Tseen, Never Forget, March 12 - May 16, 2021, Desert X, Palm Springs, Minor Matter Books, 2021

the accordion's slip cover

This accordion comes out of an ongoing series of works commissioned by Desert X, a non-profit organization based in Palm Springs that since 2017 has been dedicated to producing exhibitions "...that activate desert locations through site-specific installations by acclaimed international artists". This publication acknowledges the Calhuilla People as the original stewards of the land on which the work was installed, and I'd also like to acknowledge the place that I am writing this piece in Madison, Wisconsin as the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Accompanied with texts by four contributors, this documentation of Galanin's Indian Land sign plays with the similarly sized sign 100 miles to the west in the Hollywood hills, and subtly deconstructs all the myths that are intertwined in this original sign, the history of the theft of indigenous lands, and Hollywood's cinematic creation of the 'Indian' myth by this industry.

This powerful accordion is both documentation of the work, as well as a printed matter work in itself, and it eloquently insists on a deeper look & understanding of the historic dispossession of indigenous lands over the course of this country's history.

Merritt Johnson in her text about this work states, "....Never Forget is an invitation to participate, to insist on the work needed to ensure Indigenous knowledge determines our interactions with Land, to ensure Indigenous people are compensated for that knowledge, and to ensure reparations are paid to Indigenous people for over five hundred years of forced removal and theft of access to Land and water."

For further information about this work and a video of Galanin talking about his installation see: Desert X | Nicholas Galanin

22 double-sided pages, individually 11" x 8", and when fully open 7' 4".

accordion cover with embossed title on the front and the back



reverse side of accordion



back cover of accordion

back of slip cover


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Květa Pacovská, Unfold/Enfold, Chronicle Books, 2004

book with wraparound cover

the accordion with front and back cover boards

Another wonderful accordion by this Czech artist, illustrator and graphic designer who's well known for her children's books. Follow this link to another book by Pacovská in this blog: accordion publications: Květa Pacovská, Couleurs du Jour (Les Grandes Personnes) [The Big People], Editions des Grandes Personnes, Paris, France, 2010

Each spread of paired pages presents some kind of visual and tactile surprise, and they are often accompanied by Pacovská's different varieties of play with the pages including cut-outs and assorted moving parts that spring out when the pages are opened. I wish I had been exposed to a book like this when I was a kid!

48 double-sided pages, individual pages 10.25" x 9.5", and when fully open 38ft.

upon opening the book the reader is invited to "make yourself small 
and enter here" — into the hexagon hole cut into the first page




reverse side of the book



back of book with wraparound cover


Vasijona, Maskulator, Le Dernier Cri, Marseille, France, 2022, ed. 500


Another wonderful silk screened book (nine colors) from Le Dernier Cri. While not technically an accordion, I love the way the folded pages of the publication open up to create four page spreads of visual mayhem!

12 double-sided pages, individual pages 8" x 8".









Saturday, August 20, 2022

Jagdish Chitara and Gita Wolf (editor), The Cloth of the Mother Goddess, Tara Books, India, 2015, 1st edition, ed. 500

Front cover with cut-out view of cover of the book's cloth envelope

the front of the book's cloth envelope

reverse side of the envelope with statement about this publication


This double-accordion textile book with center panel, is a wonderful publication that uses a traditional votive cloth called Mata-Ni-Pachedi created by the Vaghari community of artists from the Gujarat region of north east India. The Vaghari have traditionally made this particular type of cloth dedicated to the Mother Goddess and this book is in effect a textile shrine that Chitara has created by using traditional wooden printing blocks that have been handed down within his family for generations. 

In the front panel the Mother Goddess is accompanied by her attendant gods and goddesses and their animals. On the reverse is the story of how the Mother Goddess came to be celebrated in this manner. Gita Wolf, the editor, provides an interesting overview of the book, the artist, the printing technique, the larger cosmology surrounding the Mother Goddess, as well as two videos at:

The two publications that accompany the book fill out the rich history of this traditional art, including a storyboard that explains the people and events depicted in the book. In the second of the above videos Chitara addresses his hopes for the book saying, "This book...I want it to be a blessing that reaches people in far away places." I would say his wish has been granted — along with the help of Gita Wolf and the wonderful Tara Books!

6 double-sided pages (9.5" x 4.75"), center panel (9.5" x 9.5"), and when fully open 3' 2.5".

the front of the publication

the two accordion 'wings' of the book

work fully opened

center panel with the people and the Mother Goddess

reverse side

reverse fully open

two explanatory booklets that accompany the publication


Friday, August 19, 2022

VēDO Product Guide, VēDO Toys Ltd., 2014


This rather unique accordion is part of the much larger field of accordions that accompany & illustrate commercial, and in this case, personal products! 

For more information about VēDO products see: VēDO (@vedo.toys) • Instagram photos and videos

14 double-sided pages, 3.5" x 2.25", and when fully open 2ft 7.5".

front side



reverse side