Una joya criselefantina

Ivorypress at Twenty-Five

Luis Fernández-Galiano 

Ivorypress celebrates its 25th anniversary with three exquisite volumes, living up to its eminent trajectory in the artistic and editorial sphere. Since the classical world, anything made with gold and ivory has been called chryselephantine, and the adjective suits this exceptional publication, which fuses a golden content with an ivory-like form, and not so much in color as in the precision of the edition, timeless and refined like a cameo. Elena Ochoa founded Ivorypress in London in 1996, and in 2008 it moved into its new Madrid location, an old printing press converted by Norman Foster into an art gallery cum bookstore whose exigent program of exhibitions and events soon made it a reference in the city, its initial focus on artist books now expanded toward related fields. The three tomes now on sale are not artist books in the strict sense, but their evident artistry makes them worthy of placement in this territory, the history of which they record and honor at the same time.

Words offers sixty texts – from the hundreds published by Ivorypress – that range from artists’ statements or critical essays to narratives and poems, and among them we find some engagement with architecture, including my own piece on Prouvé; Books concentrates on artist books, exploring their historiography, detailing the conceptual bases of Ivorypress’s collection, and showing through texts and images the complex process of producing sixteen of them; and Stories – edited by Claire Brandon, who also captained the overall project – gathers dialogues held with many leading contemporary artists, especially with those most active in the terrain of the artist book, a field with long credentials and now increasing presence in collections and museums.

The list of people represented in this editorial gem is too long to put here, but I cannot help naming some who have dazzled us at Aviador Zorita 46, from Ai Weiwei or Michal Rovner to William Kentridge or Edmund de Waal, artists as close to architecture as Cristina Iglesias, José Manuel Ballester or Thomas Struth, not to mention exhibitions as unforgettable for our profession as those on Buckminster Fuller, Zaha Hadid, or Maya Lin. And this formidable artistic adventure marks its quarter-century complementing the new books with a traveling exhibition which in the course of two years will be stopping, among other destinations, at the National Library of Spain (where it will open in April) and the British Library; the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge; the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts and Chillida Leku; the Reina Sofía and the MoMA; and the Neues Museum in Berlin and the Warburg Institute in London, to end its itinerary in the library of Stanford University and at the Yale Center for British Art, in a splendid journey that will leave in its wake the bright star of three books which reach out to the future from the perch of paying tribute to the past of art and publishing.

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