New York

Jonathan Hammer

Matthew Marks Gallery

Pushing the livre deluxe to its luxurious limit, Jonathan Hammer collaborates with artists and writers to create tomes swollen with the uniqueness challenged by the artists’ books of the ’60s and ’70s that, motivated by specific political agendas, were often produced in relatively large quantities as inexpensive alternatives to the limited edition.

Hammer, a kind of bibliophilic Warhol, gives himself over fully to the role of middleman—spine, hinge—to become artisan and patron saint of volumes so precious they are fittingly, albeit tellingly, encased in vitrines: you could look but neither touch nor, beyond a page or two, really read. Thus, the show’s title, “The Books: Read ’em and Weep,” bore an unintended irony. The means of display bespoke the work candidly: the books are as much, if not more, about their look than their contents, indeed, their look is their content: look at ’em and

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