Last night's booksigning at Rauschenberg's on Lafayette
The snow has melted away in Manhattan, but on Sunday it looked like this. Photo: JH.
There was a most unusual book signing last night at Robert Rauschenberg’s down on Lafayette. It was for Sidney Felsen, a co-founder in 1966 with Stanley Grinstein of Gemini G.E.L., the Los Angeles publisher of handprinted, limited edition lithographs of some of the greatest contemporary artists of our time. Mr. Felsen has just published a coffee table book The Artist Observed: The Photographs of Sidney B. Felsen, (Twin Palms Publishers, 2003, $60.) a photo document made over the years of the artists at work at the Gemini studio on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

The great majority of Mr. Felsen’s photographs were taken of the artists in the midst of their work. Using a rangefinder camera with a silent shutter, he was able to catch the artists without being intrusive.
Robert Rauschenberg and Sidney B. Felsen
Malcolm Morley and James Rosenquist at work with a Rauschenberg behind
Rauschenberg signing with his thumbprint
Among his subjects in the book are Josef Albers, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, Robert Motherwell, Richad Diebenkorn, Brice Marden, David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Philip Guston, Ann Hamilton, Malcolm Morley, Robert Gober and Jonathan Borofsky. These are rare images of artists, private, intimate and fascinating.

Over the years Mr. Felsen took more than 20,000 photographs including many of the modern masters at work. David Hockney, quoted by Charlie Scheips in an article about the book in the December Quest, said: “Sidney had a great opportunity: access to most of the great artists working today. I told (him) that I, for one, am glad he took advantage of it.”

The Artist Observed: The Photographs of Sidney B. Felsen
L. to r.: Roy Lichtenstein signing Wallpaper with Blue Floor Interior, 1992; Robert Rauschenberg cycling in the Gemini parking lot after an all-night session of proofing the "Stoned Moon" series.
L. to r.: Jasper Johns painting onto an aluminum lithographic plate for O through 9, 1977; Richard Serra during his proofing session for Rounds & Ellipses, 1998.
What was unique about last night’s book signing was that many of the artists featured in the book were on hand to autograph the books including Rauschenberg, as well as Brice Marden and James Rosenquist (who is presently the subject of a retrospective at the Guggenheim).

They also used the rare coming together of these artists to raise money to assist other artists in financial emergencies: books were sold for twice the price, ($120.) with the proceeds going to the cause. Dozens were lined up lugging four, five, half dozen copies for signing. What a great gift it will make for the modern art lover as well as collectors of photography.
Malcolm Morley
Brice Marden
Elizabeth Murray
L. to r.: Dorothea Rockburne; Charlie Scheips; Darryl Pottorf and friend.
L. to r.: Robert Rauschenberg 70s sculpture; Vija Celmins; James Rosenquist.

Photographs by Jeff Hirsch using a Sony DSC-V1 Cyber-shot/


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