A Humument

A Treated Victorian Novel

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ISBN: 9780500519035 Category:

Tom Phillips

Description

In 1966 the artist Tom Phillips set himself a task: to find a second-hand book for threepence and alter every page, by painting, collage or cut-up techniques, to create an entirely new version. He found his threepenny novel in a junk shop on Peckham Rye, south London. It was A Human Document (1892), an obscure Victorian romance by W.H. Mallock.

I took a forgotten novel found by chance. I mined, and undermined its text to make it yield alternative stories, erotic incidents and surreal catastrophes, which lurked within its wall of words. I replaced with visual images the text I’d stripped away. ‘A Humument’ began to tell, amongst other memories, dreams and reflections, the sad story of Bill Toge, one of love’s casualties.

First published in 1973, A Humument – as Phillips titled his altered book – quickly established itself as a cult classic. Since then, the artist has been working towards a complete revision of his original, adding new pages in successive editions. That process is now finished. This 50th anniversary edition presents, for the first time, an entirely new and complete version of A Humument. It also brings this half-century-long endeavour to a close.

Additional information

Weight 700 g
Dimensions 13.3 x 18.2 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 1 December 2016
Number of pages 392
Format Hardback
Dimensions 13.3 x 18.2 cm
Weight 700 g

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Tom Phillips CBE RA is a painter, writer, translator and composer. Collaborators include the filmmaker Peter Greenaway (A TV Dante), the novelist Salman Rushdie (Merely Connect) and the composer Tarik O'Regan (Heart of Darkness). Informing Phillips's work for half a century, A Humument has appeared in many guises beyond book and exhibition form, including operatically in Irma, digitally as an app and aurally, read by the artist himself. Tom Phillips is also an ardent Africanist. His groundbreaking exhibition 'Africa: The Art of a Continent' at the Royal Academy in 1992 attracted huge crowds and enthusiastic reviews. He is himself a collector of African Art, specializing in the arts of Ghana and the Ivory Coast.