Exhibition Review/ Livre d’artiste

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The  State Hermitage Museum,

September 28- December 15, 2013

 Exhibition Livre d`artiste is currently open in The State Hermitage Museum. The new project explores the boundaries and characteristic features of the artists` book phenomenon, relying mostly on one of the most substantial personal collections in Russia, the one of academic Mark Bashmakov`s. Exemplars from the Bashmakov`s collection are supplemented with the exhibits from  The Ermitage`s own funds. Collected together and logically organized these  exemplars constitute an sequentially and conceptually  consistent selection.

The exhibits are divided into sections according to both chronological and thematical order. Moreover, the emphasis was made on a collections of particular outstanding publishers like A. Vollard,  D.Canvailler, A. Skirr. A chronological scope of the selection is quite broad. The exhibition mainly focuses on featuring the pieces of art from the turn of the XX century up to the mid 50-s. Some precious examples of the predecessors of artist`s book from the XIX century are also exposed. Among masterpieces are works of well-known artists like Bonnard, Picasso, Matisse, Darren, Delaunay, Dali, etc.

Logically and conceptually consistent, the exhibition offers an expert insight into the phenomenon of artists` book. We can`t but admit that the visual appearance of the exemplars exhibited, considered as a whole, create a strong impression of rich palette of colors, techniques, materials. On the one hand, this visual opulence can be considered as a characteristic feature of artist`s take on creation of objects. On the other hand, there is a certain risk for visitor to be confused with such a wide scope of different objects collected all together within a limited space. The very conception of the exhibition can be somehow blurred with this ‘visual feast’ of odd elements.

Allegedly, this confusion could have been averted if the objects exposed had been complemented with substantial  commentaries. The ones offered are somewhat fragmental and insufficient.

Nevertheless, the exhibition dedicated to exploration of such a unique phenomenon as artists` book is definitely worth seeing.

by Tieriekhova Masha

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