Currently reading : A Brief History of Artists’ Scrapbooks
In a time where inspiration can be splashed all over the Internet before any kind of end product is produced, it’s easy to forget the meticulous hoarding of imagery and information that often precedes great works of art, these personal visual catalogues of influence often overlooked. With a barrage of great exhibitions this year from beat generation pioneer William Burroughs’ exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery to photographic provocateur Robert Mapplethorpe’s upcoming exhibition at OHWOW Los Angeles, these journals offer a window into not only what influenced the work of some of this century’s greatest artists, work that has often endured past their own lifespans, but a wider picture of their influences; Burroughs pasting of the infamous 1966 Is God Dead? TIME magazine or the significance appropriating artist Richard Prince places on a Christian Dior advertorial. Artifacts such as these are increasingly important to consider in the preservation and provenance of great artwork, but also opens up the question of the nature of documentation moving forward in an increasingly digital and almost disposable culture of media consumption: will documentation like this become homogenized, removing that personal hand, or will we simply exchange flipping for scrolling and look forward to exhibitions of great Tumblr blogs?
For now, bemoan the death of the handwritten thing with a selection from Andrew Roth and Alex Kitnick’s Paperwork: A Brief History of Artists’ Scrapbooks. A 300 run edition by Andrew Roth & Alex Kitnick is available on PPP Editions and the original works will be on show at the Institute of Contemporary Art London’s from April 1st.