July 21, 2017
Whoa: Keanu Reeves helps start an art book press
by Peter Kranitz
Keanu Reeves is many things: an actor, a philanthropist, a meme (twice). Now, he’s adding book publisher to his list of titles.
The Matrix star and Excellent Adventure-er, in collaboration with artist Alexandra Grant and designer Jessica Fleischmann, has launched X Artists’ Books, a new imprint that, according to the LA Times’ Agatha French, aims to publish “unconventional, interdisciplinary, and collaborative artists’ books.” The two titles they’ve released so far seem to fall neatly in line with the mission of interdisciplinary collaboration: The Artists’ Prison is written by Grant, designed by Fleischmann, and features art by poet Eve Wood, and High Winds is by playwright and video artist Sylvan Oswald, with art and design by Fleischmann. As their website says, these books “fit between and within genres,” combining text, image, and design in surprising ways, and rallying contributors to play unfamiliar roles (The Artists’ Prison, for instance, features text by an artist and art by a poet).
Speaking to French, Fleischmann emphasized the books’ production values: “We’re making physical objects — the smell, the ink on paper.” The first two titles have been printed in small runs of 1,300-1,500 copies, which Grant says “allows the price point to be more reasonable and the quality to be higher.”
Neo Reeves hopes the books will allow readers to experience “the pleasure of reading and thinking and imagining.”
Reeves, Grant, and Fleischmann view X Artists’ Books as a deeply personal endeavor. As their website explains, “We love the same things about our books as we do about our friends: generosity, open-heartedness, intelligence, mystery, style.”
With such lofty goals for the press, you can safely assume that these books will make you say “whoa.”
Peter Kranitz is an intern at Melville House.