Irma Boom's Rembrandt

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Irma Boom, Rembrandt: Flipboek Zelfportretten = Flip Book Self-Portraits / Gebaseerd op Bert Haanstra’s film ‘Rembrandt, schilder van de mens’ uit 1956 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2000s). Graphic Arts Collection GA 2013- in process. Gift of Mathieu Lommen.

“…Whenever I make a book,” said Amsterdam-based graphic designer Irma Boom, “I start by making a tiny one. Usually I make five, six or seven for each book, as filters for my ideas and to help me to see the structure clearly. I have hundreds of those small books and am so fond of them.”

Recently, Boom created a miniature flipbook for the Rijksmuseum, incorporating every self-portrait painted by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Is it, as Mark Lamster called one of her miniatures, “a big book that is paradoxically small.”

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Boom established the Irma Boom Company in 1991 and the following year, joined Yale University as a Senior Critic in the School of Art. Of the 250 books she has created, approximately 70 have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design.

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“I honor the tradition of the book,” said Boom, “but do not want to stop there. My ambition is to develop the significance and the limits of the book. Structures that come from new media, the way that text and images are treated have given the book a new impulse. It is important to experiment … the book will keep its vitality. There’s a lot to explore in a technical way and even more importantly in terms of content and form. Happily through books, the past, present and future can take on profoundly contemporary results and become part of our everyday.”

Thank you to Mathieu Lommen, curator at the Special Collections department of the Amsterdam University Library, for this rare Boom treasure.

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To hear the designer talk about her work, see this video from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis: