Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2021 Issue

Artists Books Modern & Contemporary from Ursus Rare Books

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That's Marcel Duchamp's breastiary on the cover of Ursus' latest catalogue.

Ursus Rare Books has issued its Catalogue 352, Artists Books Modern & Contemporary. This is where books and art merge. They are books, and most contain text, but the more notable feature in their value is going to be in the artwork, not in being an early edition. For example, it may be a reprint of an older book with new illustrations. However, that is not to say there isn't value in the text, but that is not the primary value of these editions.

 

We begin with an example of the above. It is Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé. Mallarmé was a 19th century French symbolist poet whose works anticipated the revolutionary trends in art that would break out in the next century. The first edition of this book, published in 1887, is quite valuable. However, the price drops off substantially to the next edition of 1899, published the year after Mallarmé died. This one comes from 1932, so the poems themselves would no longer exact a high price, except... Publisher Albert Skira wished to publish great literature illustrated by great artists. For Mallarmé's Poésies, he selected Henri Matisse. Already in his 60s by this time, Matisse had long ago established his reputation as one of France's greatest artists. Ursus describes this work as a “masterpiece of twentieth century book illustration,” the etchings “renowned for their delicate and simple design.” It is representative of the simpler style he developed later in his career. Item 56. Priced at $75,000.

 

The author of this book is far better known than the illustrator, but again, it is the illustrations that make this edition. Item 1 is La Guerre des Mondes, known in English as “The War of the Worlds.” First published in book form in 1898, this French edition comes from 1906. Writer H. G. Wells must be known by just about everyone, though artist Henri Alvin-Correa is, according to Ursus, “a little-known but extremely gifted Brazilian artist,” while this work “still remains a captivating illustrated book over 100 years after it was published.” Of course, the subject allows for imaginative illustrations, Martians being something for which there is no right or wrong way to depict. Ursus continues, “The turn-of-the-century illustrations of the invading Martians, their human captives, and destroyed cities provide a perfect complement to Wells' apocalyptic text.” $8,500.

 

James Lee Byars was an American artist, a man who knew how to grab an audience's attention even if he was not easy to understand. It is debatable how seriously he took his audience or even himself. Item 10 is one of his best known works, though it is hard to say whether to call it a book, a sculpture, or just what. Maybe it was part of a performance. It's title is Gold Dust is My Exlibris, [The White Cube]. Byars liked to use gold coloring and gold dust, but this one is just white, or off-white. It is, however, almost a perfect cube in size. It would be kind of tedious thumbing your way through this book, either from the front or back. Its 924 sheets are mostly blank. They are there to provide volume and the cube shape. The printed material is limited to the center of the book. Say what you will, this “book” is different from all the others on your shelf. $3,500.

 

This is an exhibition catalogue, one organized by André Breton and Marcel Duchamp. It was for the Internationale du Surrealisme which took place in 1947, explaining the title Le Surréalisme en 1947. The war recently had ended and surrealists could emerge from the shadows of war to return to normal life. Ursus describes it as a “celebrated Surrealist object,” containing “5 colour lithographs (Bauer, Ernst, Hérold, Lam, Miró), 4 etchings (Jean, Maria, Tanguy, Tanning), 1 colour etching (Bellmer), 2 wood engravings (Arp) and 12 lithographs (Brignoni, Calder, Capacci, Damme, Diego, Donati, Hare, Lamba, Matta, Sage, Tanguy, Toyen).” What stands out about this item, quite literally as it is three-dimensional on the cover, is Duchamp's woman's breast. It has been constructed from foam rubber. Duchamp has added the instruction, perhaps playfully, to “please touch.” Ursus notes that “the construction of the breast was delicate and perishable; consequently, of those few that have survived, most are now in an unappealing, deteriorated state.” Such is the ravages of time. Those of us of a similar age understand. Fortunately, “this copy is an exceptional survival almost never found in such superb condition.” This isn't the only thing exceptional about this copy, with other features spelled out in the catalogue's description that make it a unique copy. Item 22. $100,000.

 

This next item combines the writing of playwright Arthur Miller and the art of Louise Bourgeois. Miller gave Bourgeois an unpublished story of his for which she supplied illustrations. Actually, she supplied two sets, one of original drypoints, the other of color photographs. It was offered as two volumes. Out of 1,200 copies, this is one of 100 with the drypoints and is signed by both Miller and Bourgeois. The story is entitled Homely Girl, A Life, published in 1992. It is a story of a girl who grows up hating her looks because she has been told all her life by her parents that she is unattractive. It is not a pleasant life until she meets up with and marries a blind musician. Item 7. $12,500.

 

Ursus Rare 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>26 January 2022<br>Printed Books & Maps,<br>The Sinclair Hood Library of Archaeology,<br>The Charles Tomlinson Poetry Library</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Biggs (Thomas, Hope, Theodore C & Fergusson, James). <i>Architecture at Ahmedabad, The Capital of Goozerat,</i> 1st edition, London: John Murray, 1866. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Daniell (Thomas and William). <i>Oriental Scenery. One Hundred and Fifty Views of the Architecture, Antiquities and Landscape Scenery of Hindoostan,</i> 6 parts, 1812-16. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Hamilton (Sir William & Pierre Francois Hugues d'Hancarville). Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Hon.ble Wm Hamilton, volumes I & II only (of 4), Naples, 1766-67. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>26 January 2022<br>Printed Books & Maps,<br>The Sinclair Hood Library of Archaeology,<br>The Charles Tomlinson Poetry Library</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Moore (Lieutenant Joseph & Captain Frederick Marryat). Eighteen Views taken at & near Rangoon, [1825]. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Williamson (Captain Thomas & Howitt, Samuel). <i>Oriental Field Sports; Being a Complete, Detailed and Accurate Description of the Wild Sports of the East;</i> 1st edition, London, 1807. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Knoop (Johann Hermann). <i>Pomologia, dat is Beschryvingen en Afbeeldingen van de beste zoorten van Appels en Peeren, Fructologia …,</i> 3 volumes in 1, Leeuwarden: A Ferwerda and G. Tresling, [1758]. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>26 January 2022<br>Printed Books & Maps,<br>The Sinclair Hood Library of Archaeology,<br>The Charles Tomlinson Poetry Library</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> North America. Wyld (James), Map of the Colony of British Columbia and the British & American Territory West of the Rocky Mountains, Including Vancouvers Island and the Gold Fields, 1858. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Pocket Globe. A Correct Globe with the New Discoveries, circa 1785. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Wales. Morden (Robert), Twelve 'playing card maps' of Wales, circa 1676. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>26 January 2022<br>Printed Books & Maps,<br>The Sinclair Hood Library of Archaeology,<br>The Charles Tomlinson Poetry Library</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Society of Dilettanti. <i>Antiquities of Ionia,</i> 5 volumes: 1821, 1797, 1840, 1881 & 1915. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Churchill (Winston Spencer). <i>The People's Rights,</i> 1st edition, 1st issue, London: Hodder & Stoughton, [1910]. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Jan. 26:</b> Paz (Octavio). <i>Blanco,</i> 1st edition, limited numbered edition, Mexico: Joaquín Mortiz, 1967. £500 to £800.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana<br>Online<br>Now through January 25, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> (Flag) — Commemorative Thirteen-Star Flag. Pre-Civil War, Thirteen-Star Flag of the United States, from the collection of Charles Kuralt. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Fitzgerald, F. Scott. <i>Tender is the Night</i>. First edition, presentation copy, and a former mystery. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Salinger, J.D. <i>The Catcher in the Rye.</i> A strikingly fresh first edition of Salinger's essential novel. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Whitman, Walt. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> “America's second Declaration of Independence” — signed by Whitman. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> [Dylan, Bob]. Some of the earliest known professional portraits. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Y-Worth [Yarworth], William. <i>Cerevisiarii Comes: Or, the New and True Art of Brewing…</i> A rare and early English work on the art of brewing. $5,000 to $7,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> RUTH BADER GINSBERG’S PERSONAL COPY OF THE 1957-58 HARVARD LAW REVIEW, HEAVILY ANNOTATED BY HER.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S TEXTBOOK FOR HER “CIVIL PROCEDURE” CLASS AT HARVARD, HEAVILY ANNOTATED BY HER.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S TEXTBOOK FOR COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL CLASS ON JURISPRUDENCE, HEAVILY ANNOTATED BY HER.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> HONORARY DOCTORATE AWARDED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG BY SMITH COLLEGE, 1994.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A COPY OF JUSTICE GINSBURG’S ARTICLE, “WOMEN IN THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY,” SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY THE JUSTICE TO SENATOR NANCY KASSEBAUM.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A COPY OF SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR’S ARTICLE, “THEY OFTEN ARE HALF-OBSCURE: THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE LEGACY OF OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES,” PRESENTED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A DELUXE EDITION OF ANTONIN SCALIA’S MAKING YOUR CASE: THE ART OF PERSUADING JUDGES, FROM AN EDITION OF 2000, SIGNED AND INSCRIBED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A FIRST EDITION OF SONIA SOTOMAYOR’S <i>MY BELOVED WORLD,</i> SIGNED AND INSCRIBED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A FIRST EDITION OF AL GORE’S “THE ASSAULT ON REASON,” SIGNED AND INSCRIBED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> <i>BELOVED</i> BY TONI MORRISON, SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR TO RUTH AND MARTIN GINSBURG.
    <b>Bonhams, Jan. 19 – 27:</b> A FIRST EDITION OF GLORIA STEINEM’S “MY LIFE ON THE ROAD,” SIGNED AND INSCRIBED TO RUTH BADER GINSBURG.
  • <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321). <i>Commedia.</i> Venezia: Vindelino da Spira, 1477. Estimate: € 40.000 - 60.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DALI, Salvador (1908-1989) - William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616). <i>Romeo e Giulietta.</i> Milan: Rizzoli, 1975. Estimate: € 25.000 - 35.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> MALVASIA, Cornelio; MONTANARI, Geminiano. <i>Ephemerides novissimae motuum coelestium.</i> Modena: Cassiani, 1662. Estimate: € 8.000 - 12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> JANSSONIUS, Johannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, Orbem maritimum [Novus Atlas, volume V: carte marittime].</i> Amsterdam: Janssonius, 1650. Estimate: € 12.000 - 18.000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.

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