Sunday, August 15, 2010

Albert Oehlen artist book from TASCHEN

"Abb", seen above, is a strange little artist book by the German painter Albert Oehlen. Oehlen's one of my favorite painters--I find his work to be practically euphoric, but it takes a bit of unlocking to get beneath the seemingly stand-offish surface of his art. He's a manipulator who challenges his viewer's conception of what painting is all about--his pallet is consistently jarring, but somehow he manages to make his colors work together in unimaginable ways. His style is ever-changing, too: some pieces incorporate mirrors, some are done entirely in gray, and some look as if he created the work solely on MS Paint.

"Abb" was published in the mid-nineties by Taschen in a signed, limited edition format. There are only 170 copies of this edition of "Abb", all of which feature gilt-edges and a black clamshell case (this is number 162).
The book does not feature a limitation page; Oehlen simply signed the book inside the front cover. Inside the back cover is a stamp in German and English detailing the limitation and the numbering of the edition.
What I like so much about "Abb" is that it challenges the form of the art book similarly to the way Oehlen challenges the form of painting. The book features no text (aside from the limitation stamp) and includes what seem to be numerous images from the Taschen archives: iconic shots by Helmut Newton and various fetish photographers are reproduced with paintings super-imposed on top of them. The book doesn't tell you anything about who Oehlen is, but it manages to show you so much more than any essay or introduction could convey.


I believe the book is still available from Taschen but the price has gone up quite a bit since it first came out. It's something that might need to be special-ordered, but certainly worth it if you're a fan of the artist.

Currently reading:
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Currently listening to:
Mark Kozelek, "The Finally"

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