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The Museum of Drawers 1970-1977

The Museum of Drawers 1970-1977

Five Hundred Works of Modern Art

By (author) Herbert Distel
Edited by Thomas Kramer


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  • Includes original art works by 508 artists, including Beuys, Duchamp, Picasso and Warhol
  • Only book on this icon of 20th-century art in the market
  • The book presents all 500 works in true size
  • The Museum of Drawers is on tour around Europe 2011-13, beginning at Arnolfini Art Center in Bristol (2011) and ending at Whitechapel Gallery in London (2013)
Full Description

The Museum of Drawers is the world’s smallest museum of twentieth-century art. This unique piece has been conceived and put together by the Swiss-born artist Herbert Distel in 1970-77. It consists of an old cabinet made to hold reels of sewing silk whose twenty drawers each contain twenty-five compartments. Each of the 500 compartments houses an original miniature work of art, many of which were made especially for the Museum of Drawers. The list of artists represented includes such influential pioneers as Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Höch, Meret Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. Following a first presentation as a work-in-progress at the documenta 5 in Kassel (Germany) in 1972, the Museum of Drawers caused sensation internationally. It has been shown several times in New York, including a presentation at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1999, and at many museums around the world. After its restoration it is now part of the permanent collection of the Kunsthaus, Zürich. This new book is a comprehensive documentation of this extraordinary object. It shows all twenty drawers with their content as well as each of the 500 miniature art works individually and in true size. Essays on the history and importance of the entire work and concept complement the images. The exhibition at Arnolfini Art Center, Bristol, will run from 24 September to 20 November, marking AAC’s 50th anniversary.

About the Author

Herbert Distel, born 1942 in Bern, Switzerland, is an artist and the curator of the Museum of Drawers. His work includes painting, sculpture, conceptual art, film, video and audio art. He lives and works in Austria. Thomas Kramer has been managing director and chief editor of Scheidegger & Spiess Publishers since 2006.

Scheidegger & Spiess
3rd Aug 2011
World excluding Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada, and Japan
300 mm x 200 mm
184 Pages
533 color, 17 b&w
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