Livre d'artiste

KARASIK (Mikhaël) Le Cinquième élément.

St. Petersburg (& Châteauroux, Serge Plantureux), Petite Bibliothèque d’Adrienne Plantureux, 1997.

Landscape 4to, in the original plain grey blank card covers and dust jacket of translucent (tracing) paper. Lithographed throughout. (20) pp., calligraphic text in mauve, illustration on the theme of books and reading comprising five separate photo-collages and 4 colour plates, including one double-page, three of which with paper collage elements (fragments of torn pages of Russian books and a folded paper boat). Complete.

First and only edition, very rare. Only one copy traced in institutional collections worldwide (BnF, Paris).

One of [47] copies numbered and signed in pencil by the artist [only 40 copies were realized].

An ode to the book, the fifth element. The photographs show books in nature (books in trees, in the sea or partly buried in the ground), fragments of books are spread over the abstract lithographs. “L’amour réconcilie la vie avec la mort, le livre garde la trace de cet amour, il faut le protéger” [Love reconciles life with death, the book keeps track of this love, it must be protected]. The fifth element is a text by the Pseudo Aristotle (texts written later and/or attributed to Aristotle). It also is the title of a film by Luc Besson, which the artist with co-publisher Serge Plantureux visited earlier that year in Paris. The book is in fact a commission from Plantureux for his daughter Adrienne.

The Russian artist, publisher, and curator Mikhail Karasik (b. 1953) is “a leader within the movement in art that is known as the artist’s book. It could even be said that in Russia, the phenomenon that is the artist’s book is inseparably linked to his name, and that without his efforts it would be impossible to imagine it in its present form. In this context, Karasik fulfils numerous functions: a leading author, the key ideologist, a tireless organizer, a successful publisher, an active curator, a talented propagandist, and a skilful promoter, as well as performing many other roles. His efforts are largely responsible for the steady stream of success enjoyed by this particular form of art over the past decade. Karasik curated three Paper Theatre exhibitions, demonstrating the independent and important role of artist’s book from St Petersburg in modern art. These shows helped to define the circle of authors, typology of the publications and the main tendencies and passions. A “representative” literature also appeared – catalogues with numerous articles and detailed descriptions of the exhibits. We should also recall the Kharms-Festivals, the Kharmsizdat conferences and produce. Mikhail Karasik was the initiator of all these and many other exciting projects. The artist’s works have been acquired by some of the of the world’s leading libraries and museums. Karasik regularly contributes to international projects, special actions, and fairs. The Western image of the modern Russian artist’s book is, to a large extent, synonymous with his name and work. This does not imply, however, that Karasik is only interested in self-representation. He is an active promoter of Russian artist’s books in the West, showing the works of his compatriots at international art salons and book fairs” (

Beautiful copy.

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