A Focus on Wade Guyton's Black Paintings

From the moment I had Wade Guyton’s Black Paintings in hands, I knew it was a great book, but it took some time to understand why (perhaps a good sign).

First, the physicality of the book: it is in the same time quite heavy and very flexible. The numerous images are printed on glossy offset pages, with an unusual feel for the reader.

But most importantly – though these aspects are actually linked -, Black Paintings avoids the traps of the retrospective monograph genre, becoming a real artist’s book. As stated in the publisher’s description, “for this volume, Wade Guyton first had the book designed, and then printed it on the same ink-jet printers he used for his large-format serial prints on canvas. These pages were then scanned and printed by offset”. Hence the consistency between Guyton’s work and the book itself. What is at stake here is the status of art reproduction (in the mechanical age). The real tour de force of the book is that, being an imperfect illustration of a work focused on imperfection, it comes right into the target.

In a way, Black Paintings is the distant son of another major artist’s book: Christopher Wool’s Absent without leave, in which repetitive reproduction gave birth to a new aesthetics.

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