Gallerist Nigel Greenwood (1941 - 2004) was an early promoter of conceptual art and proponent of artists' books. He worked with a number of artists central to both, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Marcel Broodthaers, Dieter Roth, Gilbert & George, Richard Hamilton, Barry Le Va, Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle and Ed Ruscha.
Greenwood presented Books - the first UK exhibition of Ruscha's bookworks - at his London gallery in January of 1971. The exhibition poster graphic is the famed image of Ruscha laying on the floor, covered by his books.
Greenwood was inspired by the idealism of the format and followed Ruscha's example, publishing artists' books to accompany his exhibitions, instead of producing catalogues. He published the Gilbert & George books Side By Side and Dark Shadow, as well as their Reclining Drunk ashtray (see earlier post, here). Gilbert & George first performed their infamous Singing Sculpture at Greenwood's gallery in 1970, when they were still students.
In 1972, Greenwood mounted what many consider the first survey exhibition on the subject of artists' books, and published the accompanying Germano Celant volume Book as Artwork 1960/1972. The text was highly influential and has recently been reprinted by 6 Decades Books.
After his death in 2004, the State Library of Queensland acquired a collection of 214 artists' books from Greenwood's personal collection. Alongside Ruscha titles, the Nigel Greenwood Collection features bookworks by Francesco Clemente, Lawrence Weiner, Gerd Winner, Richard Kostelanetz, Sol Lewitt and many others.
An exhibition of material from the Nigel Greenwood Inc Ltd archive has just been announced at the Chelsea College of Art and Design (16 John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4JU). The exhibition, which will include works and documentation from many of the above artists (much of never displayed in public before), will open June 8th at and will run until July 15th.
It will be accompanied by a publication edited by Greenwood's daughter Phoebe, which will include original contributions from Gilbert & George, Lynda Morris, Ed Ruscha and others.