Book club: ARTBOOK opens a sprawling new entity at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Book club: ARTBOOK opens a sprawling new entity at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Last weekend, ARTBOOK unveiled its latest bookstore at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s new Downtown Los Angeles space. The store offers around 3,000 titles on contemporary art and culture – including 500 monographs on women artists, and 200 critical texts related to Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s current exhibition, ’Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016’.

The emphasis on female-focused titles is something the ARTBOOK team feel particularly proud of: ‘It’s been nearly ten years since MoCA’s seminal 2007 exhibition, ’WACK!’, which traveled to MoMA PS1, where we opened our first bookstore. I have to tell you, when the show was at MoMA PS1, it was difficult to find books on most of the artists in the exhibition. This is truly the first moment in history when a bookstore can stock a wall of shelves solely with women artists. I want to celebrate these books and encourage our visitors to discover them,’ says Skuta Helgason, the mastermind of ARTBOOK, as he set up shop in preparation for the grand opening.

At four times the size than their PS1 store, ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth & Schimmel will continue to switch out a portion of its retail space to focus on a theme, updating their displays with new releases and essential backlist titles, overlooked and out-of-print catalogues and rare volumes from a range of publishers, in addition to the gallery’s own exhibition editions.

ARTBOOK’s new location brings in some standout features from their existing Walker Art Centre and MoMA PS1 stores to Los Angeles. A wide range of magazines from around the world remains a core component of their thinking, as well as section of contemporary literature and highly relevant books on visual studies and critical theory, alongside stationery items and children’s books. Among the forthcoming spring releases is Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe (published to coincide with the current exhibit at the Vitra Design Museum) and a limited collector’s edition of Joel Meyerowitz: Morandi’s Objects, which includes an archival digital photograph, signed and numbered by the artist.

Helgason says, ‘We’ve become accustomed to creating book selections that are both tapped into what’s happening nationally and internationally at all the major museums and galleries, as well as locally.’

The store’s flexible design – complete with mobile interior fixtures and bookcases, and moveable sales desks and display tables – has been led by Helgason, who has been developing book retail space for more than 40 years. ‘I ran my first concept bookstore, devoted to artists’ books, in Washington DC in the 1980s at Washington Project for the Arts. After that, I spent seven years working as an artist and publisher in Berlin,’ he says. ‘I moved to New York in the 1990s, kept making books myself and working in book design, and then, in 2004, at the invitation of Klaus Biesenbach, who wanted a really deep, European-style art bookstore, I opened ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1, which has evolved over the last decade from a small kiosk to a deeply stocked contemporary art bookstore with a separate international magazine store.’

When Hauser Wirth & Schimmel invited ARTBOOK to create the in-house store, Helgason drew on those four decades of experience to determine the essential elements needed to meet the changing requirements of their rich inventory. He continues, ‘The size and malleability of the space will allow us a great, really challenging flexibility for presenting books that we’ve never been able to work with before.’

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