Friday, April 30, 2021

John Held Jr., L'Arte del Timbro (Rubber Stamp Art), San Francisco, 2021

Another cool accordion book from John Held Jr., an important mail art historian, rubber stamp artist and collector of both. On one side of this accordion there's a really nice selection of John's rubber stamps which feature self-portraits, publicity for events & performances, and a couple promoting his important book "Mail Art: An Annotated Bibliography" (1991). At the end there's two stamps from the San Francisco alternative space, La Mamelle (1975-1997), and their Imagezine magazine which was published in the form of a rubber stamp. Of this unique magazine format the editors stated, "If publishing is the making public of information, then affixing an Imagezine imprint upon a surface is an act of art publishing."

The other side of this accordion features cool crop circle rubber stamps by Rocola, a long time mail artist and Bay Area resident. John sent me some photographs of Rocola's stamps, and they're not your typical stamps glued to a block of wood, but much more sculptural and can be considered works in themselves. See some at the end of this post.

42 pages, double-sided, individual pages 6" x 4.25", and when fully opened 7' 5.25".

The stamp on the left depicts the head of Shozo Shimamoto (1928-2013), a member of the Japanese Gutai avant-garde art movement (1954-1972) and an experimental artist to the end.

two copies of Imagezine can be seen on the page at the right

the reverse side

Rocola's crop circle rubber stamps, plus one of his well-known 'cow' stamps

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Jonathan Monk, People Looking at Art, Fifth Syllable, UK, 2021, ed. 50

Monk is a Berlin-based Brit appropriationist/conceptual artist, with all of his works displaying a sly wit that declares originality is a thing of the past. This accordion amply illustrates this artistic strategy, with the following text tucked inside of the back page: "A selection of images taken from social media of people looking at art, found and chosen by Jonathan Monk."

Of course one of the ironic aspects of this work is that you never get to see the 'art' that the people are looking at. Indeed, what is really on display is the way people hold themselves in front of a work of art, and what kind of pose they adopt. In this process the viewers become the viewed, and unwittingly they become the art, that we the reader experience when we look at this book of People Looking at Art.

Despite the communitarian connotations to Monk's use of 'people' in this context the book is troublingly elitist, this is evident in its ridiculously small print edition, positioning it as a player in the economics of scarcity — naturally the book is already sold out!

Here's a link to an interesting 2016 interview with Monk in which he discusses his artistic strategies and some of his works: Jonathan Monk Interview: An Original Twist

ps: I wouldn't mind having a chat with Monk myself!

30 pages, single-sided, individual pages 5.5" x 4", and when fully open 10ft.

back cover

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

John Dilnot, The Book of Flies (2016), & With the Worms (2012), Eastbourne, UK

The Book of Flies, 2016, ed. 250

These are two exceptionally beautiful screen printed accordions that take the natural world as their subject matter, indeed, Dilnot's many accordions all explore this theme in different ways. But what distinguishes these two accordions are their exquisite attention to detail, combined with a sharp technical finish, and of course the DayGlo colors don't hurt either.

For more of Dilnot's works see:

8 pages, single-sided, individual page 2.5" x 4", and when fully open 2ft 8"

With the Worms, 2012, 2nd ed. 300

back cover

8 pages, single-sided, individual page 6.25" x 4.75", and when fully 
open 3ft 2"

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

R. Clarke-Davis, A Book of Wander: Ebb (2019) & A Book of Wander: 16 Hours in San Francisco..., (2015-2020), Kiddy Viddy Press

A Book of Wander: Ebb, Kiddy Viddy Press, 2019

I was sitting in my living room the other week when I heard something drop through the mail box. Since the mailman had already been I assumed it was some kind of business or political propaganda. Well, it was neither, and instead it was another mystery drop from R. Clarke-Davis, who I now have come to consider as an 'itinerant' photographer, both in his photographic practice, and his mode of distribution of his works. 

These two photo-books illustrate well the 'itinerant' theme as both are products of travel to different locales, and they function somewhat like family albums with their own private grammar. However, travel and movement combined with moments of visual pleasure are really what seems to be animating these photo-book diaries and travelogues.  

What is particularly interesting about these two books is that they don't neatly fall into the category of 'accordion.' They certainly contain some features of the accordion, but the way they are folded creates other kinds of viewing modes. I'm sure there's a word for this combination of folds, but I have no idea what that might be! Either way, they are intriguing hybrids of the accordion format, combined with other folded variations.

Both publications: 16 pages, double-sided, individual pages 5.25" x 4.25." When fully unfolded the sheet of paper is 10" x 17" with three cuts. 

back cover


A Book of Wander: 16 Hours in San Francisco, SOMA Tenderloin Presidio, 
Too Much Beer, Too Little Orange Juice, Kiddy Viddy Press, 2015-2020

back cover

Alan Turner (1943-2020), Marked Woods, Lapp Princess Press, New York, 1981

A rather curious accordion by this artist who was once described as an 'artist of the evocative and the odd.'  This work is tied to an early series of brightly colored landscape paintings that got Turner noticed at the beginning of his career. Some pages of this accordion would appear to be sketches for a number of works in his 'Marked Woods' series of paintings, and their dates are the same as the accordion.

Known later for his oddly surreal and weird paintings where different body parts occupy the same space and in the process creating a strange viewing experience.

Here's a rather interesting arty anecdote: Turner was studying for his MA at the University of California at Berkley, and one of his teachers there was David Hockney, and when Turner got his draft notice Hockney offered him the use of a flat in London so he could wait it out. Turner subsequently spent a couple of years in London until it was safe to return to the  USA.

A big thanks to John Held Jr., for donating this accordion to the collection! For another accordion in this series (16 in all) see Chuck Close's "Keith/Six Drawings": accordion publications:

8 pages, single-sided, individual 6" x 6", and when fully opened 4ft in length.

back cover