In what promises to be a refreshing change from the Instagram-baiting art installations that have been popping up seemingly everywhere of late, Hauser & Wirth will spend a month celebrating the decidedly more old-school domain of art publishing, with its nonprofits, zine collectives, and small local presses.
The initiative, titled “Recto/Verso: Art Publishing in Practice,” is presented by Hauser & Wirth Publishers and Artbook @ MoMA PS1, and aims to highlight the widely varied work being done by a range of New York art publishers. Nine events will take place throughout August at the gallery’s West 22nd Street flagship and the Artbook @ MoMA PS1 store at the museum in Queens.
“The printed object has been rooted in the New York art scene for decades, and there’s a strong tradition of publishers like Printed Matter and 8-Ball Collective who have shaped the field through their dedication to the potential of publications as artistic mediums,” Michaela Unterdörfer, the gallery’s director of publications, told artnet News in an email.
“New York publishers have demonstrated vested interest through the programming of residencies, educational events, fairs, and as a result, a discursive and highly engaged community has emerged. This fruitful dialogue and exchange between artists and publishers continue today as new collectives, small-presses, and independent publishers flourish throughout the city,” she added.
Galleries’ increasing interest in the world of book publishing has been noted before, and Hauser & Wirth, which has had an imprint since 1992, is only expanding its production. Sixteen titles are set to be released in 2018, including exhibition catalogues as well as collected writings by Arshile Gorky and Jack Whitten, and artists’ books by Anna Maria Maiolino, Geta Bratescu, and Paul McCarthy.
“As a publisher, we see enormous value in books as physical objects; to engage with the materiality of a publication—to pick it up, to flip through its pages, to recall the familiar scent of ink on paper—is a very universal and human experience,” said Unterdörfer, who adamantly rejects the theory that print is dead.
In addition, the gallery’s New York and Los Angeles bookshops have been so well-received there are plans to incorporate them into the dealer’s spaces in other cities. A separate set of editorial projects is also forthcoming from former arts writer Randy Kennedy, now the director of special projects for the gallery.
On the immediate horizon, however, is Recto/Verso, which will feature panels on the variety of ways in which art books are circulated, how zines exist at the intersection of art and activism, and about art books are works of art in their own right. There will be workshops on how to do binding for self-publishing and how to make your own DIY activist zine, as well as a web-to-print project combining the analog and the digital.
Guests can expect to hear from artist-run presses and bookmakers like Peradam Press, museum archive professionals such as Nicole Kaack from the Museum of Modern Art, and major art book publishers including ARTBOOK | D.A.P. president Sharon Helgason Gallagher.
“We think the series will prove valuable to emerging and professional art publishers, academics, students, bibliophiles, and artists,” Unterdörfer added. “Outside of the New York Art Book Fair, it’s unique to have this type of large-scale series that allows for the art publishing community to gather and reflect on the past, present, and future of the field.”
The series will be summed up in a book from Hauser & Wirth Publishers, meant to become a reference guide to local publishing resources. The volume will be released at the New York Art Book Fair, set to take place at MoMA PS1 September 20–23, 2018. (Artbook @ MoMA PS1 also unveiled its larger, redesigned location at last year’s fair.)
“One of the amazing things about publishing is that its an inherently creative act… The series is designed to shed light on the wide range of ways that people shape and maintain a publishing practice, and we hope it will encourage participants to think about which models make the most sense given their own interests, goals, and resources,” Unterdörfer said. “At its core, art publishing fosters new ideas and dialogues about art, and the more voices that are involved in shaping that discourse, the better.”