Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2021 Issue

Illustrated Books Avant-Garde to Contemporary from Ursus Rare Books

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Illustrated books, avant-garde to contemporary.

Ursus Rare Books has published their Catalogue 348. 50 Illustrated Books Avant-Garde to Contemporary. That is a concise title that still fully captures what is found within its pages. We might add that for most, it is more the illustration than the text that captures your attention, though some are combinations of original words and artwork. Also suggested by the title is that there is little that is traditional here. It is new, different, groundbreaking, reflective of the wild new directions art pursued in the twentieth century, leaving all the old rules behind. Here are a few samples.

 

We begin with a work that Ursus says “represents one of the most celebrated relationships in twentieth-century art.” It is that of Gertrude Stein and (not Alice B. Toklas, but) Juan Gris. They met in Paris, Stein being an American ex-pat, and Gris Spanish. It was the 1920s and Paris was filled with artists and writers from other lands as well as France. Gris had developed a reputation for his cubist art during the teens while Stein was a well-established writer and art collector at the center of the art and literary community in Paris. The title is A Book Concluding with As a Wife has a Cow. It was Stein's first work published in France. Gris provided four lithographs, the final one being the last one Gris ever made. It was published in 1926 and Gris died the following year at the age of 40. This is copy number one out of 90 from a total of 112. It is signed by both Stein and Gris. Ursus notes that it is in “mint condition.” Item 9. Priced at $9,750.

 

Next we have what Ursus calls “a virtually unknown work.” Published in 1938, the title is Dopolavoro Aziendali in Italia. It was created for the Third International Congress of Leisure Time and Recreation in Rome. The book is a massive overview of Italy at the time, its activities, places, industry. Along with many photomontages there are 96 color plates of images by Fortunato Depero. He came from the Futurist school, an Italian artistic and social movement that exalted modern technology, looking to jump start what it saw as decaying Italian culture. It started in 1909, but later on some of its members would become tied in with fascism. Depero's illustrations, each celebrating a different region of Italy, come with mottos by Mussolini. It is art but also propaganda. The image on the cover of the catalogue is one of Depero's illustrations and it reflects the cubism in much of his art. This copy has the stamp of Senatore Borletti, an industrialist who made a fortune during the First World War and became an ardent supporter of the Fascists. He didn't get to enjoy this book for long as he died the year after it was published. Item 28. $27,500.

 

This one comes with some descriptive quotes, such as "one of the most original and beautiful books of the century,” and “one of the most triumphant feats of book illustration in our century.” That century was the twentieth, and while it didn't take a century to complete, it did take 11 years. The title is A Toute Epreuve. Paul Eluard wanted it published in the form of an artist's book, and selected Joan Miro as the illustrator. That was in 1947, and it would not be published until 1958. Miro would create 233 woodblocks with Enric Tormo for the book. Eluard died during the middle of production, further complicating the project. It is now regarded as one of the finest examples of the surrealist book. This copy comes with two of the original woodblocks carved by Miro, one for a doubled-page spread (Ursus points out they are original Miro sculptural objects). One of 130 copies. Item 33. $95,000.

 

Sticking with surrealism a little longer, there likely is no artist more associated with it than Salvador Dali. That wasn't always the case, as he started doing realistic paintings and then switched to cubism before becoming drawn in to the movement in the late 1920s. This book revealed Dali's new direction that would last a lifetime, La Femme Visible, published in Paris in 1930 by Editions Surrealistes. It combines some of Dali's earlier writing with seven plates, some displaying human forms, jumbled together or body parts disassembled. There was no doubt he was in the surrealist camp. One of the plates is a photographic image of his wife, Gala, his inspiration and to whom the book was dedicated. She was the “femme visible.” This copy was inscribed by Dali to French cubist painter André Lhote. Item 16. $5,850.

 

I don't know whether this work qualifies as surrealist, but it certainly is strange. The title is Ein Anatomischer Totentanz (an anatomical Dance of Death) by Albert Hasselwander, published in 1926. Hasselwander was not an artist but a professor of anatomy who published a serious anatomical work using x-ray images the same year. It makes one understand this as a similarly serious work but intended more for artists. Still... It displays 25 nude photographs in somewhat erotic positions faced by skeletons in the same pose. It is indeed strange, perhaps disturbing. The Dance of Death was an artistic form from Medieval times presented to remind people that all of us, rich or poor, famous or unknown, end up in the same place (Hasselwander arrived there in 1950). Item 10. $8,500.

 

Ursus Books may be reached at 212-772-8787 or pkraus@ursusbooks.com. Their website is www.ursusbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Mariette (Pierre-Jean). <i>Traité des pierres gravées / Recueil des pierres gravées...,</i> 2 vols., 1750. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> [Bryant, Jacob & William Cole]. <i>Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus, [Marlborough Gems],</i> 2 volumes, [privately printed, 1780-83], £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Caylus (Anne Claude Philippe, Comte de). <i>Recueil d'Antiquités Egyptiennes, Estrusques, Grecques et Romaines,</i> 7 volumes, Paris, 1756-67, £700 to £1,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Devonshire Gems. <i>Duke of Devonshire's Collection of Gems,</i> privately printed, c. 1790, [one of 8 copies], £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Goltz (Hubert). <i>Le Vive Imagini di tutti quasi gl'Imperatori,</i> Antwerp, 1557, £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Manuscript. <i>An Explanation of Dassier's Medals, by Charlotte Hanbury,</i> c. 1795-1800, £700 to £1,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Paoletti (Bartolomeo and Pietro). A collection of 300 plaster cameos presented in 7 leather-bound double-sided faux book boxes, Rome, c. 1820, £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Mayer (Luigi). <i>Views in Egypt, from the Original Drawings, in the Possession of Sir Robert Ainslie,</i> London: Thomas Bensley for R. Bowyer, 1805, £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Blaeu (Willem Janszoon & Johannes). <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Atlas novus, pars quarta</i> [England and Wales], Amsterdam: Johannem Blaeu, 1648, £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Reuter (O.M. & Mela, A.J.). <i>Finlands Fiskar. The Fishes of Finland,</i> 12 parts (complete), Helsingfors: G.W. Edlund, 1883-93, £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Lunardi (Vincenzo). <i>An Account of the First Aerial Voyage in England,</i> 2nd edition, London: Printed for the Author, 1784, £700 to £1,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> North America. Jansson (Jan). <i>Virginiae partis Australis et Floridae partis Orientalis,</i> circa 1641. £400 to £600.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. The Rocky Mountains. Emigrants Crossing the Plains, 1866. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in English]. <i>The New Testament of Jesus Christ, translated faithfully into English.</i> Rheims, 1582. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in Latin]. <i>Biblia latina.</i> Venice: Franz Renner of Hailbrun [Heilbrunn], 1483. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822). Autograph letter signed ("P. B. S."), to Charles Ollier. Florence, Italy, 15 December 1819. “MY PROMETHEUS IS THE BEST THING I EVER WROTE.” $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> RAMSAY, David (1749-1815). <i>The History of the Revolution of South-Carolina…</i> Trenton: Isaac Collins, 1785. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BINDINGS]. MUIR, John (1838-1914). <i>The Writings of John Muir.</i> Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916-1924. 10 vols. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [CHICAGO] -- <i>Park & Guide Map of Chicago.</i> Chicago: Jas. Van Vechten, 1873. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [ALLEN PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). <i>Romeo and Juliet.</i> Greenbrae: Allen Press, 1988. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BEMELMANS, Ludwig (1898-1962). Pencil drawing on paper. 247 x 198 mm, sight, matted and framed. Showing a child shooting at a baby's balloon. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [LOGAN ELM PRESS]. HARVEY, Rebecca. <i>Any Number of Things.</i> Ohio State University, 2013. Single sheet paper scroll. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BINYON, Laurence (1869-1943). A small archive of letters and pamphlets. $200 to $300.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Bibliothèque littéraire<br>Hubert Heilbronn<br>11 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s May 11:</b> Breton, André. <i>Nadja.</i> Paris, N.R.F., Gallimard, 1928. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s May 11:</b> [Stendhal, Henri Beyle dit]. <i>Le Rouge et le Noir,</i> chronique du XIXe siècle. Paris, Levavasseur, 1831. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s May 11:</b> Dumas, Alexandre. <i>Les Trois mousquetaires.</i> 1844. 8 vols. In 4. Paris, Baudry, 1844. €30,000 to €50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s May 11:</b> Mallarmé, Stéphane -- Edgar Allan Poe. <i>Les Poèmes d’Edgar Poe.</i> Bruxelles, Edmond Deman, 1888. €18,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s May 11:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Le côté de Guermantes II. Sodome et Gomorrhe I. [and] Sodome et Gomorrhe II.</i> Paris, N.R.F., 1921 et 1922. €20,000 to €30,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.

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