George Wittenborn's Guestbook, with 21st Century Additions
Edited by Ronny Van de Velde. Text by Henri Focillon, Jan Ceuleers.
George Wittenborn (1905-1974), legendary émigré bookseller, publisher, dealer and friend to artists ranging from Léger, Arp, Ernst, Picasso and Braque to Calder, Beuys, Warhol, Johns, Ono, Richter, Baldessari and Nauman, kept a guestbook over the many decades of his passionate career in connoisseurship. On March 16, 1944, the Mexican painter and writer Miguel Covarrubias drew a hand in Wittenborn's guestbook in lieu of his signature--and with that a tradition was born. This monumental volume, designed with cut-out alphabetical letter tabs like an old fashioned encyclopedia, contains renderings of hands by roughly 300 of the twentieth century's finest and most challenging artists. Essays include Henri Focillon's 1939 "In Praise of Hands" and Jan Ceuleers' engaging narrative biography. Ceuleers writes, "Wittenborn's guestbook is a book of friends, a book of handshakes that stands for 'greeting, good-bye, friendship, solidarity, unity and agreement, and the doubling of power achieved through partnership.'"