An ‘emphatically unpretentious’ hommage to the Godfather of conceptual art? Perhaps. But everything is certainly very carefully arranged, brought together chronologically and evenly for this overview of the life and work of Seth Siegelaub, produced to coincide with an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The book charts Siegelaub’s activities as curator, publisher, bibliographer and collector in fields ranging from politics to textiles.
The modesty of the cover is conspicuous, even though it does give us the entire contents in one fell swoop. Throughout the book, in fact, designer Irma Boom has given priority to the clear presentation of the immense volume of material. The typography is entirely in line with conceptual art (note the capitals, too), without being a simple copy. Despite this we never lose our bearings, and the paper feels very tactile and makes for easy page-turning. It’s quite thick, but it feels light and it lies well in the hand: 560 pages of strong, light bible paper.
In both substance and form the book is finished down to the tiniest detail. ‘It’s incredible how good the indexes and the overview of works are,’ someone observed. For example, thanks to its tab marks it is possible to use the fore-edge as a navigational aid. Indeed, the panel concluded emphatically that that information by itself says much about the choices that were made in assessing Siegelaub and his life. One critical comment though, to end with: might not some sorts of text – eyewitness statements, for example – have been handled differently in the overall picture?