Sunday, March 24, 2024

Hans-Peter Feldmann | Bilder / Pictures

Hans-Peter Feldmann
Bilder / Pictures
München, Germany: Kunstraum München, 1975
344 pp., 15 x 21 cm., softcover
Edition of 500

Hans-Peter Feldmann studied painting at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria, but 
abandoned the medium and gravitated towards artists’ books, following the realization that photographs were “entirely sufficient” to convey his ideas. From the age of five he had kept scrapbooks of carefully cut out images from books and magazines, and this act of accumulating, cataloguing and arranging became central to his practice. He was a photographer best known for found photographs, and didn’t begin working with his own photographs until he was in his fifties. 

Between 1968 and 1971 he produced about thirty little handmade booklets, all titled Bild or Bilder (Picture or Pictures). These typically focused on a single subject, ranging from women’s knees to airplanes off in the distance, from a hotel maid making a bed to images of ships and chairs. In 1972 he was invited to exhibit these bookworks at Documenta 5 in Kassel.

This 1975 volume collects all of these Bilder booklets, plus two postcard series. The book features an introduction by Hermann Kern, and a text by Josef Kirschbichler. 

A reissue followed, over a quarter century later, in 2002, which has itself become scarce and costly. 

“[Bilder] constitutes one of the most important bodies of artist’s bookworks in the twentieth century, along with those of [Ed] Ruscha and [Christian] Boltanski. The key lies in the books’ deadpan nature. Next to Feldmann, Ruscha is a galloping expressionst. Of all collections in this vein – and it is a popular genre of artists’ books – Feldmann’s are the most deadpan, the least expressive.”

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