Ursus specializes in illustrated books from the fifteenth century to the present. While most people might think of prints as free-standing objects, the fact remains that, since the beginnings of the printed book, artists have collaborated with authors to produce unique works of art. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the twentieth century where there are numerous examples of dealers or publishers harnessing the talents of authors and artists, from Kahnweiler and Vollard to The Petersburg and Arion Presses.
The advantage these books have over single prints is they are often able to throw a unique light on the cultural zeitgeist of the moment. For example, no understanding of Cubism would be complete without an examination of the books produced by Kahnweiler, and the understanding of major art movements such as Futurism in Italy and Constructivism in Russia are partially dependent on their illustrated books being taken into account.
Sol Lewitt, Piramidi
"From left to right: Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch, Oscar Kokoschka, Kamisaka Sekka, Beatriz Milhazes" to "From left to right: Jacopo Strada, Oscar Kokoschka, Kamisaka Sekka, Beatriz Milhazes"
Our booth attempts to show the vast range of illustrated books not only in terms of time, from the 16th century to the present, but also geography, with examples from America, Europe and Japan.
The earliest book in our booth will be a monument of Renaissance book making, Strada's Imperatorum Romanum, printed in Zurich in 1559 and containing 118 splendid full page woodcut portraits of Roman Emperors by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch, combined with spectacular ornamentation including 248 woodcut arabesques by Peter Floetner. A work of great beauty and incredible rarity.
From the Baroque period we will show a book with particular resonance today — Wicquefort's Advis Fidelle of 1673, which depicts the horrors of war through a series of vivid etchings by Romeyn de Hooghe which easily hold their place alongside Goya's more celebrated Desastres de la Guerra.
From the eighteenth century we will exhibit Le Blon's L'Art d'imprimer les Tableaux of 1756. This is a key work in the history of colour printing by the inventor of the three colour printing process in mezzotint, and a work of great rarity.
From the nineteenth century we will show an unrecorded drawing manual by the Swiss artist Gabriel Lory and his son. Preserved in its original parts, this spectacular object is a splendid demonstration of aquatint printing. We will also display a unique collection of Japanese Katagami plates. These are the original plates which were used to stencil designs for kimonos. They are themselves objects of considerable beauty and an important source for the history of Japanese design.
From the twentieth century we will exhibit a selection of books demonstrating the involvement of artists in book making including Kokoschka's Trauemende Knaben of 1908, Matisse's illustrations of Mallarme's poems and Jasper John's masterpiece his illustrations of Beckett's Fizzles. Among them will be a group of major books illustrated by women artists, namely Joan Mitchell, Vija Celmins, and Beatriz Milhazes.
Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Tauba Auerbach, Louise Bourgeois, Georges Braque, Vija Celmins, Pietro da Cortona, Maurice Denis, Fortunato Depero, Gustave Doré, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Antoine Gautier de Montdorge, Michael Goldberg, JJ Grandville, Grace Hartigan, Anish Kapoor, Oskar Kokoschka, François-Xavier Lalanne, Andre Lanskoy, Jacques-Christophe le Blon, Jean Laurent le Geay, Alfred Leslie, Sol Lewitt, El Lissitzky, Gabriel Lory and sons, Man Ray, André Mason, Henri Matisse, Beatriz Milhazes, Joan Miro, Joan Mitchell, Koshiro Onchi, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissaro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pierre Roche, Auguste Rodin, Paul Schuitema, Kamisaka Sekka, Leonhardt Thurneisser Zum Thurn, Richard Tuttle, Abraham de Wicquefort