It is not new, it is a book, a quotation by Jacques Louis Nyst, is the title of the first in a series of exhibitions to be presented in the Library and Documentation Centre of the Reina Sofía Museum. The aim of this series is to present every aspect of the artists’ book. Both individual and thematic exhibitions are programmed.
Artists’ books emerged in the early sixties when artists of all tendencies were exploring the book as a creative space. They no longer considered the book as a container for information but as an artwork with its own significance. The artist’s book created a new genre of art in a period where conceptual art and intermedia art forms were very influential. Most books have an essentially conceptual character; if not in terms of their style then in terms of the perception of the space of the book and the consideration of how the book can be made into one coherent artwork.
The books selected for this exhibition are pertinent examples that illustrate the book in the most lapidary way. Conceptual analysis runs like a threat through the ensemble. Developing from page to page, they become pure reflections on the concept of the book itself. They convey no images, texts or stories, or only in such a way as reduces the subject to itself. They are books in the strictest sense of the term because the object represents only itself. Most of these books can therefore be considered as tautological works.
The works in this first exhibition represent attempts to perceive and to analyse an object that has existed for centuries. Although the book itself was not new, the idea of an artwork in the shape of a book was new. These works of art can only exist as books. In times of digitalisation they celebrate and give new life to the book.