Celebrating the book as art object at Frieze Masters

Shapero Rare Books is delighted to announce that they will be exhibiting at Frieze Masters in London this October. One of the few dealers selected specializing in rare books and works on paper, a special focus on their stand will be Livre d’artiste by famous names including Matisse, Lichtenstein, Braque, Chagall, Picasso and Warhol, exploring the boundaries of what a book is and can be.

MATISSE, Henri. Jazz. Publication: Tériade, Paris, 1947. The complete book, one of 250 copies, with Matisse’s autograph text lithographed throughout, and 20 stencilled colour plates. £400,000

A masterpiece of book illustration, Jazz is the only publication of which Matisse was both author and illustrator, characterised by brilliant colours, poetic texts and joyful circus and theatre themes. The works represent the great artist’s lifelong unflagging creativity and their presentation at Frieze Masters coincides with a Royal Academy exhibition – Matisse in the Studio –  offering a rare glimpse into the artist’s personal collection, as well as the paintings, sculptures and drawings it inspired.

Limited in his mobility at the age of 74, Matisse could not paint or sculpt. Instead, he cut out forms from coloured papers that he arranged as collages. In 1947, Matisse’s publisher Tériade issued the prints in an artist’s portfolio that included 20 colour prints with handwritten texts by Matisse expressing his thoughts as he created the images. Tériade came up with the title Jazz, which Matisse liked because it suggested a connection between art and musical improvisation.

WARHOL, Andy. A la Recherche du Shoe Perdu. 18 hand-coloured offset lithographs with captions, New York,1955. £200,000 for set

Andy Warhol had a successful career as a commercial illustrator before he was known as an artist.  Between 1955 and 1957, Warhol was the sole illustrator for shoe manufacturer I. Miller and made new drawings of shoes each week for advertisements in the New York Times. À la recherche du shoe perdu celebrates the central role shoes played in his early career and imagination. The captions, with their distinctive cursive lettering, were transcribed by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola. The lithographs were privately printed in New York and the sheets then hand-coloured using Dr. Martin’s aniline watercolor dye by Warhol and his friends at his ‘colouring parties. This delightful portfolio is rare as not all surviving portfolios have a complete set of all the plates, and many do not include the larger boot plate.

LICHTENSTEIN, Roy. Allen Ginsberg, La Nouvelle Chute de l’Amerique, Paris, Editions du Solstice, 1992. Complete folio 4/80 ( total of 125 copies). Signed by artist and author. £195,000

In the early 1990s, the publisher Jean-Claude Meyer brought Allen Ginsberg and Roy Lichtenstein together. The result is an extraordinary, unilateral, non-bound book with 11 poems by Allen Ginsberg (in English and French) and 10 plates by Roy Lichtenstein

Translated as The New Fall of America, it is Lichtenstein’s only ‘illustrated’ book, and as such it is an exceptional example of the contemporary livre-de-luxe, bringing together two American artists, each icons of their own times. Bound by Georges Leroux in red and blue calf boards with figurative and architectural designs decorated in coloured glass on rear and front covers, it is marked by the use of exotic materials and strong polychromatic colour.


DESNOS, Robert; MIRO, Joan. Pénaltiés de l’Enfer ou Les Nouvelles Hebrides. 1974Limited edition, 51 of 200 copies. Signed by Miro. £17,500

Both the Spanish artist Joan Miró and the French poet Robert Desnos were prominent figures in the Surrealist movement in Paris where they met in 1925 and became good friends.  Miro agreed to provide illustrations for a book by Desnos. However these plans never materialised as they were interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and World War II.  Ironically Desnos survived the war only to die of typhoid a few weeks after the liberation of the camp where he was held in 1945. Nearly thirty years later his widow approached Miro with the idea of illustrating his works again and in the end they agreed to use Pénalités de L’Enfer ou Les Nouvelles-Hébrides (The Penalties of Hell or The New Hebrides).   A wild and creative mix of colours by Miro coupled with Desnos’ poetry make this a true Surrealist collaboration.

ERNST, Max. Une Semaine de Bonté ou les Sept Éléments Capitaux. Roman, 1934. Limited edition, 217 of 800 copies. 183 printed monochrome plates. £12,500

Created in just three weeks in Italy in 1934 as Ernst’s native Germany marched to the thump of the Nazi drum, Une Semaine de Bonté is a very bizarre collection of  collages where humanity is mixed with mythology and the animal kingdom. This is the last of Ernst’s rare collage works. Surreal, sometimes amusing, other times creepy or frightening, many of the dramatic scenes display death, distress, bondage, nudity and violence. Une Semaine de Bonté has seven sections for each day of the week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday bound in one part) and each one illustrates one of Ernst’s seven deadly elements, including water and fire.

This particular copy has been bound by the talented Daniel Henri Mercher whose father Henri  was also an innovative binder who invented a method of mounting covers that allowed him to use any type of material which could be sanded, carved or polish. His particular favourite was plexiglass as used in this example. This binding with its weird and wonderful collage design reflects the surreal contents beautifully.

Although artists have illustrated the words of others in books since the advent of the printed book, the book as art object is a product of the 20th century, existing at the intersections of printmaking, poetry, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing.

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