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Art on the page

BY Miranda Brown Publicity | 17-Jul-2017
The University of Melbourne is presenting Art on the page, a joyous exhibition celebrating the livre d’artiste, or artist book, bringing together 47 original artworks on the printed page from 40 twentieth-century European and Australian masters, to the delight of Melbourne bibliophiles, art lovers, indie publishers and design geeks.
Curated by Susan Millard, the University of Melbourne’s Special Collections Librarian, Art on the page showcases the astonishing, little-known book illustration work of a number of the world’s finest artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Antoni Tàpies, Marc Chagall, David Hockney and Joan Miró. Their original woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, tableaux and engravings—of the type normally found on the gallery wall—accompany the work of revered writers including Vladimir Mayakovsky, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Emily Brontë and Guillaume Apollinaire.

A product of the rapid rise in book production that occurred during the twentieth century, artist books were typically printed in runs of less than three hundred, and hand-numbered and signed by artists. Each existing as an exquisite print artefact in itself, these publications celebrated artistic collaboration, authenticity and innovative design, and promoted a fruitful merger between visual art and literature. Hugely popular among major painters and sculptors of the twentieth century, artist books and the traditions they engendered carried over into limited-edition art magazines such as Verve and Derrière le Miroir, also included in Art on the Page, and continue to resonate today through the renaissance of art book fairs and independent print publishing.

Often fuelled by immigrant journeys, the influence of these publications on Australian artists is presented through contemporary publishers Lyrebird Press, Masterthief, Lexicon House, Zimmer Editions and the Graphic Investigation Workshop, along with the work of individual artists such as Petr Herel, Bruno Leti, Inge King, Peter Lyssiotis, Angela Cavalieri, and writers Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Dimitris Tsaloumas and Paul Kelly.