Beautiful Hand-Made Paper Gems from Hanuman Books

Willem de Kooning’s
Collected Writings
This is a 1990 second printing.

Earlier this month my staff of thousands put up a blogpost about Willem de Kooning’s appreciation of the early analytical Cubist paintings by Braque. Soon after that Gerard Bellaart sent me an excerpt he scanned from the de Kooning essay “What Abstract Art Means to Me” describing the attraction to Cubism. The essay had been reprinted in Collected Writings by Hanuman Books, and Bellaart asked the publisher (Raymond Foye) to send me a copy. (Foye and Francesco Clemente co-founded Hanuman in 1986.) When the book showed up, I was startled to see how small and beautiful it was. Measuring 2-3/4″ x 4-1/8″, it was tiny enough to hold in the palm of my hand. I was also reminded that I already had three others like it: Safe in Heaven by Jack Kerouac, Painting & Guns by William S. Burroughs, and Your Reason & Blake’s System by Allen Ginsberg. What I hadn’t realized was how many paper gems Hanuman Books had published in this hand-made series. As far as I can tell there are 48 of them. They’re all sewn bound, so you can open them easily — which is the point, of course — and they don’t fall apart. You just have to handle them gently. Have a look at some of the book covers here.

These are the Hanuman titles I now have:

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Hanuman Books
No. 42

Hanuman Books
No. 46

Hanuman Books
No. 14

Hanuman Books
No. 24


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And here’s a scan of the text from Collected Writings describing de Kooning’s appreciation of Cubism:

‘I do not need a movement.’

“Personally, I do not need a movement. What was given to me, I take for granted. Of all movements, I like Cubism most. It had that wonderful unsure atmosphere of reflection — a poetic frame where something could be possible, where an artist could practise his intuition. It didn’t want to get rid of what went before. Instead it added something to it. The parts that I can appreciate in other movements came out of Cubism. Cubism became a movement, it didn’t set out to be one. It has force in it, but it was no ‘force-movement.’”

– Willem de Kooning, from “What Abstract Art Means to Me”
in Collected Writings [Hanuman Books, 1988]

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