Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two signed Jeff Koons books (Hatje Cantz and Taschen, 2009)

Back in 2009, I attended a rare talk/book signing that Jeff Koons did at the Strand in New York. The event coincided with the release of a nice book of Koons's "Celebration" series that Hatje Cantz put out and had an overwhelming turnout. Koons and the Strand were almost careless in their generosity -- there was no limit of books that could be signed and Koons was whimsically drawing flowers, suns, and waterfalls in every book. About halfway through the line (about where I was) Koons's people realized that there was no way he could get through everyone and make it out of the store before midnight. The Strand was already closing up and it became apparent that he would either have to stop drawing or turn people away. I didn't make quite make the cut, and a drawing of a flower in one of my two books came out more like a cotton ball.

Still very exciting, and I'm fairly certain that not many copies of the Taschen book below have been signed. (The Taschen book with the lobster is the trade edition of one of their big sold out collector's editions. I owned a copy at one point but sold it -- I like Koons but not so much to turn down a decent profit...)

What I like about both of these books is the texturing of both the lobster and the heart have a gratuitously heavy gloss to them -- they're pleasantly tactile, rich, and unnecessary. 

Quick thoughts on Koons as an artist: when he's done something great (which happens occasionally), all the heartless, cold, and business-minded criticisms of his craft seem to vanish. His work can be unquestionably powerful at times. I don't need to see another balloon dog in my life, but something like the "Gazing Ball" exhibition at David Zwirner will come by every so often and remind viewers why he's achieved the status that he has.

 Currently reading:
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor

Currently listening to:
Savages, "Husbands"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Limited edition of John Fante's The Road to Los Angeles

This is an unsigned but numbered limited edition of John Fante's The Road To Los Angeles, one of four books by Fante that chronicles the life of his fictional alter-ego Arturo Bandini. Originally written in 1936, The Road to Los Angeles was published in 1985 by Black Sparrow Press at the suggestion of Charles Bukowski. Black Sparrow released editions of a number of Fante's books, including the highly influential Ask The Dust.

This edition of The Road to Los Angeles is especially curious, as it was released about a year and a half after Fante's death in May 1983. The colophon claims to have been published in traditional Black Sparrow limitations, with 26 signed and lettered copies. Reportedly, these pages were signed very close to Fante's death, and all 26 lettered copies were not actually realized. This makes a signed and lettered copy exceptionally rare, and this edition of 150 numbered copies the next best thing.

I picked this up at PBA Gallery's "Beats/Counterculture" auction last month. It was my first purchase from an auction house - exciting stuff! They'll be having a second session in January that I will surely be watching.

Currently reading:
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride