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Contemporary Artists Books for Auction

Bonhams New York is pleased to present the Arnold Smoller Collection of Contemporary Livres d’Artiste. A wonderfully astute and varied assemblage of nearly 200 volumes, the collection spans several decades of American and international art. It includes experimental works made of such surprising materials as lead, hair, plastics, and rubber. The works range in date from the Jasper Johns exhibition catalogue with original screenprint wrappers and the rare, beautiful Lee Bontecou ULAE portfolio of etchings, through important Pop, Conceptual and Neo-Expressionist contributions, to very recent works such as Olafur Eliasson’s Your House which thrills us with its new way to experience “reading” a book. While Contemporary Art can often carry extraordinarily high estimates at auction, these books offer collectors the opportunity to acquire work by highly sought after artists–signed and limited editions–for a fractional amount. “While Jasper Johns prints can sell for six figures, the original color screenprint on the cover of the catalogue offered is estimated at $1,000-1,500 and the edition of Wallace Stevens’s poems with an original, signed etching by Johns is only $3,000-5,000,” notes Books specialist, Christina Geiger. “For people who thought they’d never be able to own work by artists such as Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, or Louise Bourgeois, the opportunity to collect artists’ books is a revelation–it’s Contemporary Art collecting for the rest of us.” Highlights Include:

Lot 5045
ELIASSON, OLAFUR- Your House. New York: Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, 2006.
The computer-aided laser-cut leaves form a sculpture in negative space of the artist’s own house in Copenhagen. Each leaf corresponds to 2.2 centimeters of the actual house. Considered “an extraordinary, disorienting illusion of an inhabitable, portable home”.
454 leaves; 452 of which are laser-cut. Signed by Eliasson with prospectus and white gloves included. One of 225 copies.
Estimate: $8,000 – 12,000

GRANT, SUSAN KAE- Radioactive Substances. [Dallas, 1994-1995.]
14 printed lead sheets. Text and illustrations derived from Marie Curie’s thesis. Housed in lead box with 5 glass ampules with rods and scrolls fitted into the inside lid.
This work was exhibited in “Science and the Artist’s Book,” Smithsonian Institution Libraries, 1995-1996. Signed by the artist. No 11 of 20 copies.
Estimate: $800-1,200

Lot 5034
CLEMENTE, FRANCESCO- The Departure of the Argonaut. By Alberto Savinio. [London & New York]: Petersburg Press, 1986.
50 color lithographed plates with text. Printed on Japanese kozo paper. Signed by the artist. No 82 of 200 copies plus 32 proof copies.
Estimate: $3,000 – 5,000

Lot 5018
BONTECOU, LEE – Fifth Stone, Sixth Stone. Prose & poem by Tony Towle. West Islip, NY: Universal Limited Art Editions, 1967-1968.
With six etchings with aquatint, dated and numbered, on hand-made Richard de Bas paper. Presented with publisher’s cloth clamshell box featuring an original etching on the upper cover and original wooden lidded box.
Signed by the poet under each letterpress poem and by the artist on each print. No 26 of 33 copies plus 9 proof copies.
Estimate: $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 5055
JOHNS, JASPER- Screenprints. November 15th, 1977 through January 7th, 1978.
Illustrated exhibition catalogue. Original color screen-printed wrappers.
Estimate: $1,000 – 1,500

Viewings begin at Bonhams New York on December 12th until the day of the sale which takes place on December 15th at 1PM EST. For more information about the department and to purchase or view the online catalogue, please visit

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