Rachel Withers: Roman Signer’s Library of Marvels

An exhibition exploring the contents of Roman Signer’s extensive library by art critic Rachel Withers

To complement Roman Signer’s Slow Movement installation, opening on 4 March in the Barbican’s Curve Gallery, the Rose Lipman Building will host a supporting show exploring the contents of Signer’s library by art critic Rachel Withers.

A self-confessed book addict, Signer has been amassing books and printed matter for many decades. However, he stresses, he doesn’t use his library to research art ideas; he goes there to escape, relax and indulge his huge appetite for information and images of all kinds. On its shelves, books on geology and volcanology, meterology, hydraulics, aviation and polar exploration jostle for space with volumes on art and architecture, photography, cinema and the avant-gardes. Their topics are often eclectic, ranging from folk and “outsider” art, via scientific parlor games, kayaking and ball lightning, to Renaissance garden design, early twentieth-century uranium mining, dynamiting bridges, correct silver-service waiting procedures, siege warfare and the obscure Swiss sport of Hornuss (to give a necessarily incomplete list).

From 2011 on, Signer granted Withers free access to his library, where she has made many scans of out-of-copyright material for her own research. Installed in the staircase at the Rose Lipman Building, the Library of Marvels (Fast Version) will offer a glimpse of her findings, and shed unexpected new lights on the enthusiasms and fascinations lurking in the background of Signer’s internationally acclaimed sculptural practice.

Library of Marvels (Fast Version) will coincide both with Signer’s Slow Movement show in The Barbican’s Curve Space, and the Barbican art Gallery’s exhibition Magnificent Obsessions: the Artist as Collector (February 12 – May 25 2015).

In partnership with The Mill Co. Project.