Artists’ scrapbooks explored at the ICA

Released on: March 20, 2014, 9:25 am (EDT)
Industry: Travel

Works by William Burroughs are among this examined in this small exhibition in central London.

LONDON, -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- A new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in the centre of London will look at the ways in which artist use their scrapbooks as a way to store ideas and ephemera that may later grow into or inspire fully realised works of art. Paperwork: A Brief History of Artists' Scrapbooks opens on 1 st April and features contributions from artists including William Burroughs, Brigid Berlin and Gerhard Richter. It takes place at the Reading Room of the ICA, located on The Mall opposite St James's Park and surrounded by many of London's best sights, bars and restaurants. For information on other London events in the area, see, London's most reliable website for tourists visiting London.

The scrapbook has long been used as a storehouse for memories to preserve a lock of hair, a sentimental piece of correspondence, a magazine clipping, or a beloved snapshot. Artists began to engage with the scrapbook in the postwar period, using the page as a canvas, albeit on a smaller scale and this display explores how contemporary artists have used the scrapbook to forge an intimate artistic identity. The artist's scrapbook often trades in nascent ideas, both visual and textual, which may or may not grow into a more finished work. Artists involved include William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin, who used oversize books to intertwine visual ideas and threads of stories: news clippings and shards of advertisements woven among watercolour paintings and excerpts from manuscripts. Other artists, such as Al Hansen, carried small notebooks for organisational jottings, quick sketches, and humorous musings, making collages on the fly and tucking away daily detritus for safekeeping.

But the scrapbook can also be a finished work. Isa Genzken's I Love New York, Crazy City is one such example, made during a year she spent in New York in the mid-1990s, the book is a madcap conglomeration of colour snapshots, faxes, and letters affixed to the pages with electrical tape. The French artist Jean-Michel Wicker makes byzantine scrapbooks, often removing pages and taping in replacement patchworks of found images, Internet printouts, and hand-lettered phrases. The exhibition promises to be a fascinating and helter-skelter study of artistic process and execution at one of the earliest stages of creativity. For more on this and other exhibition and events at the ICA, see


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