Asger Jorn. The Secret of Art

Right up to the end this small volume generated fierce debate amongst the panel. The book contains the hundred and fifty etchings by Asger Jorn donated to the CoBrA Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen by Otto van de Loo and family. It is intended as a gift for a select company. Opinions constantly diverged: one panel member found every part of it irritating, from the careless, badly spaced typography with extra letterspacing for quotations to the excessively narrow columns, and from the wrapper cover to the wrapping paper wrapped around it. ‘Poor’, ‘ugly’ and other terms were heard. Are the cover and the wrapping over the top or, on the contrary, fun for a gift? So has this book been sloppily made or is it meant as an analogue of the uneasy antagonism between freedom and narrow-mindedness of the fifties and early sixties? Again, the combination of greyish brown wrapping paper and silky white paper is a reference to division, and is reminiscent of Willem Sandberg’s catalogues of those years.

On the outside the cover, which unfolds fivefold into a long strip, displays a pattern built up of details from Jorn’s etchings, clearly revealing the hand of designer Richard Niessen. The inside of the wrapper has colour illustrations of all the works gifted.

 

In the end the panel’s vote tipped over to a clear plus. The majority saw the unusual contrary approach to typography, paper selection and binding method as a favourable quality – certainly given the context of CoBrA and the gift to the CoBrA Museum. It is good that the museum can commission such work and that it should be so generous as to be willing to identify itself with so un-slick a publication.

Edition: 2014
Language: Dutch, English, translated by Bookmakers
Publisher / commissioner: Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Amstelveen
Designer: Niessen & de Vries (Richard Niessen); photography by Henni van Beek
Printer: Zwaan Printmedia, Wormerveer
Binder: Agia & Lith, Amsterdam
Dimensions: 124 x 200 x 8
Amount of pages: 110 p.
Number of copies: 400
Price: € not for sale
ISBN: none
Font and foundry: Neue Helvetica (Linotype)
Binding style: sewn soft cover wrapped in flap, packaged in printed 50gsm Ersatz
Material: 100gsm Muskat grey, 115gsm Revive 100 White Silk (interior), 150gsm Manteca white/grey (cover)