It was during a bonding session over their mutual obsession for art books that Gregor Muir, Executive Director of the ICA, Lucy Moore, Director of Claire de Rouen Books, and the art publisher Charles Asprey first came up with the idea of staging a book fair celebrating publications on art, history, fashion, design, photography and counterculture.
This, they decided, would be a book fair like no other in the world, one where dealers and independent book stores, as opposed to publishers, could come and sell their collectibles, and one where established purveyors such as Maggs Bros. could set up alongside younger dealers such as Test Centre. It would feature an eclectic mix of publications, from rarefied works that have already been written into history to affordable items that would become the modern masterpieces of the future or the “new rare”, as Moore dubs this genre.
Prices, they agreed, would range from pure pocket money to the tens of thousands and as such it would be accessible to all. And unlike other book fairs it would be an intimate affair, held in the beautiful Grade 1 listed Nash and Brandon rooms at the ICA — hence its name — Room&Book.
When they opened the doors of their first fair a year ago the team failed to predict just how popular it would be — over 3000 people would visit over those three days — and almost their entire stock (from a £3 counter cultural magazine to a £40,000 limited edition art tome) was snapped up from the stalls.
Despite its success the team was adamant it would not expand the fair this year. What they have done, though, is to include dealers from the international market — from Europe, the US and Japan. ‘There is certainly something here for everyone,’ says Muir, ‘from a student to the well heeled collector.’ Little wonder he describes it as ‘a cross between an antiquarian book shop and Studio 54’.
Ritz Newspaper, Issue 1, 1976. Courtesy Elegantly Papered. £125
Ritz Newspaper was a British magazine founded by David Bailey and David Litchfield. It launched in 1976 and was produced as a broadsheet-sized title on newsprint, published monthly. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Interview, Ritz was a mixture of fashion, gossip and pages dedicated to London’s party scene. Everyone who was anyone in the late 1970s and ‘80s was seen on the pages of Ritz.
Cinemantics, Issue 1, 1970. Courtesy Test Centre. £150
This is an edition of the London-based film magazine, which launched on the 1 January 1970 and focused on experimental film work. This founding issue has a cover by rock poster artist Martin Sharp and is an incredibly scarce edition, and as such highly collectible.
Dieter Roth, Kwadraatblad, Edition of 1000. Courtesy November Books. £500
De Kwadraat Bladen, or The Quadrat-Prints, were published by Dutch publishers Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co as experimental print projects. This is Dieter Roth’s contribution, featuring enlarged pages from his Daily Mirror Book (1961) that consisted of cuttings from newspapers. Sixty pages in total are re-presented here as loose sheets at 25 x 25 cm. Paul Lawrence of November Books describes it as ‘insanely rare’.
Isa Genzken, I Love New York Crazy City, 2006. Courtesy Claire de Rouen Books. £58
Artist Isa Genzken has consistently challenged Modernist imperatives in her explorations of the relationships between public and private space, artistic autonomy, and collective experience. As this printed project demonstrates, her work is concerned with what surrounds us and shapes our everyday existence, from design, advertising, and the media, to her most enduring subject, architecture and the urban environment.
Viviane Sassen, Flamboya, 2009. Signed copy. Courtesy Claire de Rouen Books. £800
Flamboya includes photographs taken across Africa, which disregard traditional boundaries of genres and tackle the problematic bond between photography, imperialism, and the colonial imagination. Viviane Sassen’s aesthetic vocabulary suggestively recalls documentary as much as staged photography. Seen through Sassen’s lens, the ethnic other interrogates the traditional nexus laid between vision, knowledge, and power, which lies at the heart of the history and ideology of photography.
Lynda Benglis, Artforum T-Shirt, 1974. Courtesy Maggs Counterculture. £7,500
In November 1974 Lynda Benglis, the Greek-American artist and feminist icon, placed an advertisement in Artforum magazine in which she wore nothing but a pair of sunglasses and a dildo. Benglis states the work was ‘a study of the objectification of the self, myself in relation to the subject of the pinup’. She funded this artwork by selling T-shirts printed with the same image. This is one of them...
Tom Lee, Postcard for Arthur Russell performance, May 18, 1988. An original silk-screen postcard designed by Tom Lee. Courtesy of the Arthur Russell Estate and Arthur Fournier Fine & Rare. POA.
US book dealer Arthur Fournier Fine and Rare will be bringing items from the personal archive of legendary avant-garde composer and cellist Arthur Russell (1951-1992) to Room&Book this week. Hand printed flyers for solo concerts and screen-printed records are among the unique offerings that have never before been available on the market. This flyer was designed and printed by Tom Lee, Russell’s partner, for a concert he performed at The Alternative Museum venue in New York in 1988, and a similar design will act as the cover for the forthcoming posthumous Russell album, Corn, due out on 9 June.
Room&Book Art Fair, In Association with Claire de Rouen Books. Friday May 22 - Sunday May 24 2015, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Nash and Brandon Rooms, The Mall, London. Entry with Day Membership £1
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