Exhibition: SHOWCASE – Artists' books from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich presents works by Picasso, Miró, Warhol, Kiefer and many more

From 20 September 2017 to 7 January 2018, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek presents the book as an autonomous work of art, forming the center of its exhibition "SHOWCASE – Artists' books from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek". The exhibition illustrates impressively the enormous differences between the artists' approaches to using the book as a form of expression. The works on display reach from the historical avant-gardes of the 20th century to conceptual artists' books of the 1960s and 1970s, and up to the present.

72 exhibits, three rooms, three focal points
The first room is dedicated predominantly to small-format works. Here, typographic experiments, photo compositions, dadaistic and surrealistic books are shown among other things. The works run the gamut from William Blake, the "godfather of the artist's book", with the only specimen of Song of Los present in Germany, to works by Kazimir Malevich, Marcel Broodthaers and Ed Ruscha, Max Ernst or Andy Warhol, up to Joan Miró and Joseph Beuys.
Large-format and elaborately produced artists' books, created predominantly during the 1990s and 2000s, i.a. by Louise Bourgeois, Marina Abramović, Anselm Kiefer, Chuck Close and the Munich artist Katharina Gaenssler, can be viewed in the second room.
The third room is dominated by "flatware": Leporellos, portfolio works, a scroll, a record cover and posters. Here, works with a socio-political objective can be found, such as Pablo Picasso's portfolio of the year 1937 against Franco and the war or Art Spiegelman's original work Maus, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. The large bandwidth and topicality of the artist's book is also exemplified by a portfolio by Keith Haring, an artist's booklet by Raymond Pettibon, zines by Mike Kelley and the Französische Bilder by the artist group Bazooka.

Minister of State Dr. Ludwig Spaenle emphasises: "The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is renowned on a national and international level for its comprehensive collection of artists' books. It stands out for a great diversity of high-carat exhibits, thus enriching the Bavarian cultural scene. With the exhibition 'Showcase' the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek effectively focuses on this particular form of expression of contemporary art, presenting artists' publications in all their splendour."

"The artists' books", says Dr. Klaus Ceynowa, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, "are a very special collection of our institution that is unique in Germany. For once, the book does not serve as a carrier of information, but becomes an object itself – in the medium of art."

The exhibition SHOWCASE will be accompanied by a generously illustrated exhibition catalogue, which was compiled with the kind support of the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation. "By compiling this exhibition catalogue on the artists' books, an important collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has been processed academically and presented to the public. This is wholly in agreement with the idea of our founder Ernst von Siemens, who wished to support work with the holdings of our cultural institutions in particular", appreciates Dr. Martin Hoernes, Secretary General of the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation.

About the collection
The collection of artists' books or artists' publications has been extended systematically since 1915. With around 14,000 works, it probably represents the most important collection of its kind in Germany today. The library collects artists' books, journals, newspapers, mostly multiple objects, multiples, ephemera, artists' records, multimedia editions, up to zines and graphzines – and all of this on an international level as far as possible. These works comprehensively document the enormous diversity of contemporary art up to the year 2017. A quarter of a century has passed since the library's last public exhibition of works from the collection titled "Papiergesänge. Buchkunst im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert" ("Vocal papers. Book art in the twentieth century"). SHOWCASE now presents the continuous development and expansion of this collection, which blends in with a high-carat environment in Munich.

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 10:00 to 18:00, Sundays 13:00 to 17:00
Closed on Saturdays and bank holidays (3/10, 31/10 to 1/11, 24/12 to 26/12, 31/12 to 1/1, 6/1)

Admission free

Guided tours

Public guided tours are available free of charge on Thursdays, at 16:30, and on Sundays, at 14:00.
Meeting point: Exhibition rooms of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1st floor. No registration required.

A catalogue of the exhibition will be published at a price of € 39.00 with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation.

Supporting programme
SHOWTIME – the artist's book today
From 23 to 24 October an academic symposium on the artist's book will take place at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Ludwigstrasse 16, 80539 Munich
Underground lines U3/ U6, bus line 154, station/ bus stop Universität, bus line 100, bus stop Von-der-Tann-Strasse

For the provision of press photographs please contact:
(Please note: The predominantly contemporary works are protected by copyright.)

Press release for download
Press release  (PDF, 244 KB)

Contact persons

Dr. Claudia Fabian
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books
Ludwigstr. 16, 80539 Munich
Phone:  +49 89 28638-2255

Peter Schnitzlein
Press and Public Relations
Phone: +49 89 28638-2429


About the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek:
Founded in 1558 by Duke Albrecht V, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is an international research library of world renown. With more than 10.3 million volumes, around 59,000 current journals in electronic and printed form and almost 131,000 manuscripts, the library ranks among the world's most important centers of knowledge and heritage institutions. With 1.9 million digitized works, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek holds the largest digital data stock of all German libraries. The library offers a broad range of services in the field of innovative digital use scenarios.