Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst Share “Shelfies”

Everyone is crazy about selfies, but for Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, and other leading contemporary artists, “shelfies” are where it’s at.

The Whitechapel Gallery, which is hosting the London Art Book Fair over the weekend, has invited some of the artists who have exhibited there to reveal the books that inspire their practice, and the environment in which they read them, with a snapshot, reports the Independent.

“Artists often turn to books, either as inspiration or as sources of research”, Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery, writes in the Independent. “The works on their shelves often contain the kernels of their artistic ideas. Artists also have a tendency to have very particular (and often peculiar) tastes and collections. A glimpse into these is always tantalizing.”

The Whitechapel Gallery launched the London Art Book Fair in 2009, and it has become a key event for bookish art lovers and fans of printed matter. The fair features 100 exhibitors from all over the world, showcasing a curated selection of artists’ books, art catalogues, zines, and rare publications.

“We asked artists to do what everyone in the world is doing—take a selfie,” writes Blazwick. “It’s a strange combination of the instantaneity of the screen, and the slow time of the book. I think books—and art—ask their audience to slow down and spend time with them. This slowness is refreshing.”


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