Sunday, January 13, 2019


You might not see my Quantum Leap as a book and I wouldn't blame you. Art objects in the genre Artists’ Books can have all kinds of odd characteristics which make them unsuitable for bookshelves. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has categories such as livre d'artiste, livre-objet, livre de peintre etc. to describe the variety of artist-made book-like things which grace their special collections. These un-bookish expensive artefacts are stored away, unless visitors specifically ask to see them, because if they were constantly handled they would gradually disintegrate. So, of course, would paintings, drawings, sculpture etc. in museums if they were daily caressed by the crowds.

If they consider the definition of ‘book’ to mean what it familiarly does, some people see the price of certain artists’ books as exorbitant. The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. bought my one-of-a-kind Quantum Leap for $5000 in 1990. Some people would say “They paid that for a book?” Yet if it was not classed as 'book' but simply as 'art' then the price would seem to them normal, or even low. Perception, context!

As a painter/printmaker/writer/builder the artist’s book genre was a way to bring together my interests and skills so I started NdA Press in 1974. It’s a 'press' only in the loosest sense and an etching press is my only printing equipment. Visual content is my principal focus. The bookworks I’ve made are either very small editions or consist of just one copy. Text is usually brief and my own but occasionally by others.


Vincent said...

Is it then on permanent display by the Library of Congress? Did you sell it first to Joshua Heller, or did he find a home for it as your agent, taking an agreed cut of the $5000?

It looks great, hope it's displayed in a way which shows all sides & contents.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Vincent, Josh Heller,a rare book dealer in Washington, sold Quantum Leap and a few other bookworks of mine to public and private collections. He didn't buy them from me but found the buyers then paid me (minus his commission of course) when they paid him (public collections are notoriously slow but reliable in payments).The amount I received out of the $5000 for this sale was $3400. I didn't have an agent and the major part of all my bookworks which were acquired by public and private collections were sold by me personally, doing a lot of travelling, writing letters, sending prospectuses etc. Yes, it has been hard work.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

P.S. Vincent, as for display: there are literally thousands, millions of items in the public collections of rare book libraries, museums etc. which are not on permanent display but safely stored in their vaults (or whatever their storage space is called). I'm just about to write a post on Faceboo (later copied here) about this invisibility, but at the same time accessability to anyone who takes the trouble.