The artist's voice is not a feature of the typical monograph or catalogue raisonné. Proxies are enlisted to elucidate intentions, to describe sources and processes, to contextualize, to assess—naturally, in laudatory terms. In the interview section, the artist's voice is directed, constrained by queries. While the monograph as a form is indispensable, its format is a routine and R. H. Quaytman's Spine (Sternberg Press/Sequence Press) is a welcome break.
Featured prominently in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Quaytman was director of Orchard, an artist-run gallery on the Lower East Side that presented, during its three-year lifespan ending in 2008, some of the most cerebral art then seen in New York. Quaytman's paintings, which involve silkscreen on plywood panels, feature snappy optical patterns and indistinct photographic halftones, alone or in combination, sometimes punctuated by life-size renderings of those panels' beveled plywood edges. For the last decade, the artist has executed her paintings in autonomous "chapters," in which each work is contingent upon the others for meaning. Spine gathers excellent reproductions of every work in every chapter, in chronological order, accompanied by brief but illuminating texts.