Extraordinary Exhibit in Amsterdam

You have until May 13 to catch a plane to Amsterdam to see the history of the book in three rooms. There’s everything from a 1471 Nicholas Jenson to a 1988 Irma Boom. Official site here. Above you see my lousy camera-phone picture of the Cranach Press Hamlet (1925), and below an El Lissitzky from 1925. But the lucky secret is you don’t have to fly to Amsterdam, and you can actually see the books better than you can in the exhibit by buying the catalog, which oddly has a different name, The Book of Books. This is another amazing exhibit to have all come from a single collection, in this case Special Collections at the University of Amsterdam. I have to admit that I was a bit peeved at first that the fine press work is all old; no contemporary ones. But when I got a copy of the book, and discovered that each period of books have been selected to illustrate a theme, it ceases to be a slight. The most recent period is labeled “Postmodernism,” and we don’t see a great deal of that in current fine press work.

I had a brief email exchange with the man who selected the exhibit, Matthieu Lommen, and he claimed that “I’m actually a fan of letterpress printing and I’m a member of the Dutch association of marginal printing. I’ve written extensively on Bram de Does, who is internationally–in my opinion–one of the best bibliophile printers of private press editions.” I love the use of the word “marginal.”

More pictures on the FPBA Facebook page.

–Robert McCamant

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