This year is the 125th anniversary of the publication of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard (1897): the poem that made the world modern and then postmodern. It also launched a host of homages in the form of livres d’artistes in numerous languages as well as homage in the form of film, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, theatre, costume, music, dance, programming, and book art. Even exhibitions. The exhibition best known from the 20th century is perhaps Marcel Broodthaers’ 1969 show. In the 21st century’s first two decades no less than five exhibitions in homage to Un Coup de Dés have been held. To celebrate the poem’s anniversary, this exhibition follows in their footsteps.
The variety of structures, techniques, process and material used in these works of homage reflects many of those recurrent in the genre of book art – especially that of appropriation. In 1969, Broodthaers went far beyond the traditional livre d’artiste and famously masked out Mallarmé’s text in the poem’s 1914 edition thereby appropriating its image. Then came appropriations of Broodthaers’ appropriation, many of which can be found in this exhibition. See, for example, Derek Beaulieu, Jérémie Bennequin, Sammy Engramer, Michalis Pichler, Michel Lorand and Guido Molinari.
All of the artefacts on show come from the Books On Books Collection, based in Oxfordshire, UK. Various selections of the works have appeared at the tenth and final Turn the Page Artist’s Book Fair in Norwich and in the West Court Gallery at Jesus College in Cambridge. At the end of this exhibition, all of the works of homage to Un Coup de Dés will be donated to the Special Collections at the Bodleian to make them available to scholars and artists interested in Mallarmé as well as what is arguably a sub-genre of book art.
Information on each work in the exhibition is accessible by QR Codes on each label. These and additional works of homage from other disciplines can be viewed in an online exhibition here.
The Books On Books Collection is curated by Robert Bolick.
This exhibition also forms part of the IMPACT 12 printmaking conference 2022.
Please check the opening hours for Bower Ashton Library before visiting. You can also follow the library’s Twitter feed.
UWE Bristol, City Campus at Bower Ashton, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol BS3 2JT.