I love art books. In fact, I would stand up and say "I am art book addict." I love the pictures and illustrations. The essays (sometimes) give a good perspective on the artists and art practice. I love art books so much that during a recent move, I counted 60 boxes of art books in my collection. On the other hand, I hate art books. They are so expensive. $40, $50, $60 and up for At times, they seem inaccessible and over priced. Because they are so big and bulky, art books can take up more space than I have.
Fortunately, the internet has solved the problems with space and price with the Portable Document Format (PDF). Portable Document Format (PDF) was launched in 1993. PDF was, "developed by Adobe, and now used by government organizations, corporations, and people around the world for more secure, reliable electronic document exchange." The PDF uses the Adobe Reader, "launched in 1993, is a free, universal client software that enables users inside and outside the firewall to interact with electronic documents online or offline." The PDF file has enabled artists, museums, galleries, collectives, periodicals and others to produce and publish publications online so that the reader can download, print or store on a hard drive to view at anytime. The downloads are normally free of charge. I have seen museums publish their gallery guides and brochures as a PDF file to download from their websites. A PDF file is convenient and allows someone who could not afford an art book or catalog to download on their computer.
I am someone who believes that enjoyment of art goes beyond the visiting of art galleries and museums. The internet allows people to explore art from their very own home. Below are some websites that I have discovered where the viewer can download PDF catalogs, artists' books, essays, literature on art and all kinds of fun that explore this new frontier of contemporary art.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has recently started a project where they have uploaded out of print exhibition catalogs from their library and allowed the website visitor to download the publications on PDF format. The most recent uploaded books explore the art of the 1960s. There are books on Robert Irwin, Ken Price, Billy Al Bangston, LA Art of the 1960s, Ed Kienholz and others.
According to the website's mission statement, "portabledocument is a curated project for the online distribution and discussion of artist-made books and documents. By bringing additional awareness to these projects we hope to further encourage the medium as well as foster a discourse around their content and production." The artists on the website are some of the most prominent emerging and established artists that are working today. The website has artists books and artworks by Justin Beal, Katy Grinnan, Amanda Ross-Ho, Allan McCollum (See below), Mungo Thompson, and others.
One of the art collectives featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. According to Biennial's website, "Opened by David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey in 2006 as a “Just-in-Time Workshop & Occasional Bookstore” in a Ludlow Street basement in New York, the design and publishing collaborative Dexter Sinister collapses categories, functions, and roles. Joined by Sarah Crowner, Dexter Sinister combines the characteristically distinct identities of designer, producer, publisher, and distributor. They propose a heteroclite counterpart to the dominant one-size-fits-all, Fordist assembly-line style of print production and distribution. In contrast to the juggernaut of contemporary publishing and its economies of scale, the workshop, according to the artists, “involves avoiding waste by working on demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production, and distribution into one efficient activity.” "If one goes to www.dextersinister.org, they will find an internet bookstore and on the upper right-hand side, there is a link to the Library. Once the link is opened, there are downloads of artists' books, catalogs, essays and publications on art. The theme of the library is words and reading. I had a great time looking at the uploaded works. It is one of the best places for cutting edge literature on art.
This gallery is based both in Leipzig and Berlin. According to the gallery's website, "Galerie EIGEN + ART (has) existed as a private gallery in Leipzig since 1983. The gallery was illegal till 1989, due to plenty of underground activities and exhibitions, it became a center of young unadjusted art." The gallery represents some of the most prominent contemporary artists working in Germany today. Some of the artists represented are Neo Rauch and Matthias Weischer (both can be seen currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Martin Eder, Tim Eitel, and Carsten Nicolai. If the website's visitor goes to the artists link, each artists has their own individual page. In each artist's page, there are links to catalogs and publications to download.
Art Review Magazine
Art Review magazine is a monthly publication that highlights and reviews the latest in contemporary art and culture from around the world. According the magazine's digital website, "The Magazine Online is an exact replica of the print edition, published simultaneously and available immediately, free of charge, anywhere in the world to anyone with access to the Internet. The Magazine Online comes with additional video and audio content, click-through links to advertisers and editorial, and a complete archive of the magazine’s contents since 2006." One can download and print the magazine from a website reader where it prompts you to either download the single page or the entire magazine. The downloaded content is on a PDF format. The only requirement is that visitor must register, create a username and password. However, the username and password gives the user access to past, current and future editions of the magazine.
There are many artists who have websites. I believe the true test of an artist's website is whether the visitor comes away knowing more about the artists then when he first visited. I believe Allan McCollum's website is a prime example of a website where I learned so much about the artist and his art work. Allan McCollum is an internationally recognized artists who has been working since the late 1970's, early 1980's. He emerged during the 1980s with the likes of Robert Longo, Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring and others in the New York 80's art scene. Allan McCollum has an amazing website. In the selected text, there are essays by Hal Foster, Craig Owens, Rosalind Krauss and other prominent art critics and theorists. There are also interviews with the artist. I particularly liked the interview with Allan McCollum and photographer Laurie Simmons. This is definitely worth visiting.
As information becomes more and more available online, the downloaded publication and essay as a vehicle for artistic expression and communication becomes even more important. The websites above are examples of the possibilities that artists and institutions can have when they utilize the internet. It is almost revolutionary in the ease, affordability and efficiency of the PDF format as artistic vehicle.
Friday, March 5, 2010
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