The Book Lovers is a systematic attempt to study the phenomenon of artist novels curated by David Maroto and Joanna Zielinska. The central question of this research is whether a literary genre like the novel can be considered a medium in its own right within the visual arts, as video or installation could be. There have been artists throughout the 20th century who wrote novels as an activity more or less detached from their visual art production. However, in recent years an increasing number of artists have begun to integrate their novels as a fundamental part of their visual art projects. Surprisingly, there is a lack of research on this subject. This circumstance gives rise to a situation in which artists who write novels are not aware of others doing the same. With The Book Lovers we are intending to create public awareness of this silently widespread artistic trend. The project develops in a number of different stages. Its base is the creation of a collection of artist novels with a parallel online database, which is complemented with a series of exhibitions and public programmes, a pop-up bookstore and a publication.
The collection includes, among others, novels written by: Carl Andre, AA Bronson, Jake Chapman, Keren Cytter, Salvador Dalí, Tim Etchells, Matias Faldbakken, Liam Gillick, Goldin+Senneby, Rodney Graham, Renée Green, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Pablo Helguera, Stewart Home, Isidore Isou, Pierre Klossowski, Joseph Kosuth, Yayoi Kusama, Jana Leo, Jill Magid, Tom McCarthy, Brian O’Doherty, Mai-Thu Perret, Francis Picabia, Richard Prince, Stuart Ringholt, Roee Rosen, Lindsay Seers, Alexandre Singh, Oscar Tuazon, Andy Warhol… to a total of 320 titles. This collection is the result of a research carried out by David Maroto and Joanna Zielinska, and it has been acquired by MuHKA, to be part of the museum’s collection. Click here to access the artist novels database hosted by M HKA.
The Book Lovers researches the many different ways in which novels are related to the artist's visual art projects. Here, the concept of the novel is not only confined to the space of the book, but it is expanded in a body of works that are interrelated and find their central reference in its narrative. Introducing traits that are particular of narrative literature into the visual arts implies the accentuation of some features over others. Notions such as narration, fiction, identification, issues of authorship, the very act of reading and the protracted engagement that it involves, as well as strategies of distribution in public space, might be familiar to any writer, but for the visual artist they open up a world of possibilities.
M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp
De Appel, Amsterdam
EFA Project Space, NYC
Cricoteka in Kraków
Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
Printed Matter, NYC
Buchhandlung Walther König