Center for Book Arts presents Beau Geste Press, an exhibition curated by Alice Motard. The exhibition surveys the history of Beau Geste Press, an independent publishing house active in the southwest of Great Britain from 1971 to 1976, which specialized in limited-edition artists’ books that were distributed internationally via the postal network.
Beau Geste Press (BGP) was founded by the Mexican artists’ couple Martha Hellion and Felipe Ehrenberg, who, together with their two children, moved in the early 1970s into a farmhouse in Devon in the English countryside. There, joined by a group of friends that included the art student and researcher David Mayor, they started printing the work of visual poets, neo-Dadaists and international artists affiliated with the Fluxus movement (Ulises Carrión, Helen Chadwick, Ken Friedman a.o.) and operated like an artists’ residency avant la lettre.
In the spirit of cottage industry, Beau Geste Press adapted its methods and scale of production to its needs, keeping all stages of the book-making process, from design and printing to distribution, under the same—bucolic—roof.
On display will be artists’ books published by the BGP community and those made by visitors from around the globe to their rural outpost, such as Carolee Schneemann, Takako Saito, and Cecilia Vicuña. The publications evidence the group’s attachment to DIY artisanship and its geographical reach—with contributors from as far afield as Mexico, Chile, Hungary, Japan, Iceland, and Canada—but also the diversity of creative practices it embraced.
This presentation at Center for Book Arts highlights the uniqueness of this collective publishing venture which, although it operated from the periphery of the main artistic centers of its time, was among the most productive of its generation. Through a selection among the 80 books BGP has published, the exhibition celebrates the remarkable international influence of this short-lived “community of duplicators, printers and artisans.”
This exhibition is a smaller iteration of the Beau Geste Press retrospective exhibition curated by Alice Motard at Capc Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France, in 2017.