The final edition of Tom Phillips’s ‘defining masterpiece of postmodernism’, published to mark 50 years since the artist’s first encounter with the novel A Human Document, which he transformed into A Humument. 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.
A Humument A Treated Victorian Novel | Final Edition Tom Phillips 8
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. Tom Phillips writes: ‘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.
Illustrated throughout 17.5 x 12.5 cm 392pp hardback ISBN 978 0 500 519035 October £20.00
‘Phillips has decorated, distorted, sampled, remixed and reworked it for 50 years to produce one of the most original, fascinating and lovely books of all time’ Brian Eno ‘Simply astounding … and addictive’ Stephen Fry ‘Utterly original, delightful and idiosyncratic’ David Lodge
‘Astonishes the eye and amazes the mind’ William H. Gass
Also available: Limited Edition
A Special Limited Edition of the 50th anniversary book, presented in a clamshell box and with a limited-edition print signed by the artist. 978 0 500 094044 £175.00
Published on Jun 10, 2016