Steven Aalders, Robert van Altena – De Vijfde Lijn

Here the title and blurb, both in black, are printed on uncoated royal blue paper. Depending on how the light falls it is sometimes more legible, sometimes less. The  effect is almost a literal representation of the way the painter Steven Aalders, interviewed by Robert van Altena, sheds light on his abstract paintings. For this small but striking book succeeds in explaining what to a broad audience is the difficult subject of abstract art in a light-hearted and easily understood way – in a conversation about Aalders’s work and that of fellow artists.

This is a book that arouses covetous instincts even before you know what it’s about. With its two thin sections in orange and yellow there is a wonderful subtle pattern at the edges. This trick, whose function only becomes clear at the end, is a brilliant example of how effective and inventive a book concept can be, however simple it is.

On the small pages the informative text and the images used to illustrate it are clearly linked. The use of half-height blank lines to aid the insertion of small illustrations means that the text doesn’t register, but this isn’t a problem: it’s an acceptable consequence of the basic idea of using the design to support the narrative of an associative interview by reference to examples. And in this book the illustrations are placed in the middle of the text. Come to think of it, this is just what van Gogh did with the sketches in his letters.

That a publishing house like Prometheus should publish this little gem is cause for hope. Please let it be an example to others!

Edition: 2017
Language: Dutch
Final editor: Marieke van Ommeren
Publisher / commissioner: Prometheus, Amsterdam
Designer: Irma Boom Office, Amsterdam (Irma Boom, Nina Ruppen), photography by Peter Cox, Steven Aalders
Lithographer: Lenoirschuring, Amsterdam
Printer: Lenoirschuring, Amsterdam
Binder: Patist, Den Dolder
Dimensions: 125 x 200 x 17
Amount of pages: 271 p.
Number of copies: 1,000
Retail price in euros: € 19.99
ISBN: 978 90 446 3420 4
Font and foundry: Neuzeit S (Linotype)
Binding style: sewn soft cover with flaps
Material: 85gsm Arcoprint Milk 1.5 (Fedrigoni), 90gsm Pop'Set Flame Orange, Sunshine Yellow (Antalis) (interior), 270gsm Colorplan Royal Blue (Christiaan Janssen) (cover)