Germany /// Deutschland
This exhibition catalogue accompanies a double exhibition in which sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Hans Arp were shown together side by side. But still, this book alone can do so much more than an exhibition in terms of the comparability of objects.
The works are presented in sensitively lit, large-format photographs. Individual sculptures are meticulously isolated, and the works are not only cleverly shot but also beautifully printed on matt cardstock. They either loom out of deep-black backgrounds that seem to have not only swallowed the four print colours but all the light too, or they hover against overexposed backdrops, though fine-mesh printing gives the latter a slightly veiled appearance that lends real sparkle to the pieces’ light spots. Mostly, works are shown side by side on these black or white spreads, like stereoscopic images that might be overlaid in the mind’s eye.
There is no information that interferes with the viewing. Page numbers are printed in highly unusual positions. Some are placed centrally under single pieces, but far more innovative are the pages featuring two, three or four views of the same sculpture grouped together; here, the page number is pushed right into the middle of the page – and printed in bold red at that – thus confounding readers’ expectations. It’s as though they’ve taken on a life of their own, and yet they by no means feel out of place.
Instead, the numbers form an anchor around which the different views seem to pivot or rotate. This is a book whose singular design allows the viewer to not just compare the individual works of the two sculptors, but also trace the kinship between the two.
All layout decisions follow a clear system without appearing dogmatic.