Investigating forms of presentation of the Artist’ Book.

The book on the table. /// The closed archives. /// The book in a box. /// The open archives. ///
The book on the shelves. /// The book underfoot. /// The book on the ground.
/// The book in an intimate space. /// The book as installation. /// The book in a working space. ///
The book as an object to walk around. /// The book as a concept for a space.


participant: Mrs. Vos [#04]

Mevrouw VosMevrouw VosMevrouw Vos

In conversation with Mrs. Vos, bookcollector

Mrs. Vos, living in Amstelveen, is a bookcollector. Her house really bulges from all the books. A certain arrangement in the collection has started recently, bringing in some more structure. But still.... Once a week time will be made free to classify and catalogue the collection. This catalogue is important in making the collection visible. Any visitor ringing at the doorbell at first will be welcomed by her 2 dogs, already barking from a distance. They already know their place. In their world no books exist, nor for reading as well for eating. Mrs. Vos speaks with full dedication about her collection. Once she sighted when she saw a richly illuminated gilded mediaeval handwriting: 'I'd rather be a Roman Catholic!'. Mrs.Vos can loose herself in the welldesigned shape of a letter A in the Book Genesis.

The collection is mainly based on Dutch typography. Especially editions of letterdesigners such as Van Krimpen and De Roos are well represented. Printed editions from publishing houses like Stols and Nypels representing Dutch authors Slauerhoff, Marsman and Du Perron.

Years ago she started collecting together with her deceased husband Rik. Every evening he read to her. While her husband put an accent on written words, Mrs. Vos fixed her eyes upon visual elements. At the time they lived nearby the Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam where all the antiquarian bookshops are situated. She still knows exactly how it all started: with looking at, touching and finally buying a book based on the works of Flemish artist Edgar Tytgat. Word-blindness plays a role from her childhood already. So it's not a surprise that books with pictures have her full attention. Typography in books has to be esthetic and especially clear. You easily can get confused otherwise. The contents plays an inferior role compared to the form, but still belongs to it. The message should be read indefectably. Looking at books in this way, it is kind of a deviation. Truly innocent nevertheless according to the collector.

Meanwhile the typographic collection is complete. Looking for further ways to keep on collecting the accent got moved into artistsbooks. Especially because of the fact that the collecting never stops and can be kept alive. Artists make books and handle them in an unorthodox way. Regularly she buys at Johan Deumens' in Haarlem. Artists like Martin Peulen en Christiane Baumgartner are followed by her from time to time. Almost all of the bookworks by Frans Baake are represented in the collection, being the greatest place of finding on northern hemisphere. Beside to it there is the circuit of Drukkers in de Marge (Printers in the Margin). Through them regularly typographic highlights come within sight.

You can say there is a direct contact with makers and traders, often in a friendly way. Once a sociologist came to visit her, working on a book about collectors and their passions. When asked what actually forms the motive for collecting the answer was short and consice: 'Greed!'. It is desire that strikes the clock. Of course also a sense of pure beauty is what it is all about.

The collection of books isn't very visible according to Mrs. Vos. She mostly buys books at auctions, when she can have a look at them and touch them as well. After the aquisition of a new book at first it finds a place at a therefore destined desk. Afterwards the book gets into one of the bookshelves. A very valuable copy goes behind bars. Not because of the eventuality of theft, but more to prevend if from direct sunlight. In Mrs. Vos' opinion limitations that belong to presentation forms don't play a direct role. It's important to preserve the books well in order to survive the ravages of time. As a collector you have a certain responsability to others, namely passing of knowledge and beauty.