Two volume set artist's book by Louis Lawler. "Lawler has excelled at such slight of hand, at gesturing in one direction while simultaneously slipping an ace from the bottom of the deck. Her arrangements and adjustments are astute recasting of expectations. She is an investigator toying with how something familiar-seeming--a photograph's subjects, an artists's book, a piece of ephemera--can be shifted from one context to another, giving it new connotations and skewed implications. Untitled, Red / Blue, a two-volume artist's book published in 1978, is an example of this subterfuge. Each volume contains twenty-six deadpan images, one on each of the books' pages, of the backs of playing cards, and each card is given a single line of text that names the hidden face side. The individual images, clinically photographed in black-and-white, like mug shots, seem to represent a half-deck of cards, randomly selected, but what is imperceptible to readers is that the volume with red covers contains photographs of a deck with red-patterned backs, and the blue volume contains cards from a blue-backed deck. By muting the colors with black-and-white images and hiding the cards' faces, Lawler challenges the faith of her audience in what the artist claims to be presenting. The text printed on the inside front cover of the blue-covered book is equally interesting, if not more so:
The price of this volume together with the red volume
that make up the this book is $7.95 or $100
The price of this work is $7.95 or $100
The price of this copy is encircled.
Each copy had its retail price circled in red ink. Printed Matter's 1979 catalogue notes that two versions of the books are physically identical, and only the price is different. While it's not uncommon for publications to be offered in trade and limited editions, with the more expensive copies, from a lower print run, adorned with luxurious covers, higher-grade paper stock, and the author's signature, the value of Untitled, Red / Blue is conferred by the artist's slightly ellipsoid pen mark., a transgression of the usual protocols that requires suspension of [belief]. .. The implicit issue be weighed by a collector is whether there is in fact additional value of any kind in the $92.05 premium place on one set of Lawler's Untitled, Red / Blue artists' books over another simply because the artist declared there is." -- from "Object Confusion: Louise Lawler's Printed Matter" by David Platzker, "Louise Lawler: Receptions," pp. 86-87.