Contemporary NYC art is among the most innovative in America, but New York will always have a split personality, its monumental museums contrasting with nonconformist modern galleries. Exciting new projects roll on, including the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1. Danika Druttman, director of cultural programming at Roger Smith Hotel, shares why she loves art books, and how the avant-garde interpretation of books makes for the perfect start to a beginner’s art collection.
How did you develop an interest in art books?
My mother is an artist and she has been making artist books for years. I have one from every single edition she has produced. I really love her work, and I suppose it was through her that I developed a fondness for this kind of work. I’m from London, and when I moved to New York, I was living on a really modest budget in a tiny apartment. I have such an interest in art that is more alternative, and given my space constraints, starting a small book art collection made sense.
What do you like most about the medium?
In a funny way, I think that art books make art accessible. I love that in a society where art is ‘to be viewed, not to be touched,’ book art must be picked up, held and tumbled through in order to be fully seen and appreciated. I feel a more immediate sense of connection when I can touch things—I suppose this is why I’m drawn to book art.
I also think it’s interesting that books as everyday objects are so familiar to us, yet as an art form it’s not mainstream—it’s counter intuitive in the most satisfying way. It makes the world of book art so cool in my eyes.
I think for people interested in collecting art, but don’t know where to start or don’t have a big budget, checking out the NY Book Art fair is such a brilliant way to discover a really preeminent art form.
Who are you looking out for at this year’s NY Art Book Fair?
The London-based artists book group AMBruno will be showing works from two of their projects, W O R D S (2016) and RED (2015). For each project, they set a theme for their artists—the work is beautifully harmonious when taken in as a collection as the pieces solo are so clever.
Miniature Garden publish a selection of truly magnificent limited edition art books that I’m excited to see this year.
What is one thing visitors should know about the NY Art Book Fair?
The fair has a bunch of different events going on. Not only can you do some serious shopping, but it’s also a really fun scene. They have performances, talks and workshops—I’m most excited to see Gagosian’s tattoo parlor. They will be tattooing commissioned, limited edition tattoos at the fair. I wish I was brave enough to get stuck in!
Where can art-lovers go when the NY Art Book Fair is over to see art books?
The Center for Book Arts on 27th Street is one of the longest running, highly-regarded spaces dedicated to artists books. Printed Matter, the organizer of the fair, has also been around for many years and as a brilliant store in Chelsea. It’s an institution and such a ‘New York’ experience.
Faces of Roger Smith: Danika Druttman
London-raised Danika is the director of cultural programing at Roger Smith Hotel. When she’s not overseeing the hotel’s unique cultural offering, from rotating art exhibits to creative talks to events of every kind, she is traveling, building her art collection, learning to play the piano and developing her green thumbs.