Guy Schraenen (UK) is the founder of the Galerie Kontakt, of the publishing house Guy Schraenen éditeur, of the Archive for Small Press & Communication (A.S.P.C.) and an international known curator, publisher and advisor. Furthermore he is the author of essays and various publications. His many activities are mainly focused on artists' publications of the various international avant-garde and independent art movements from the late 1950s until the 1980s.
Guy Schraenen was and is probably the only protagonist dealing with this genre of art in all possible roles, as producer, publisher, distributor, collector, curator and theorist - what makes him an important link between the artists, the institutions and the public.
In 1965 Guy Schraenen founded the GALERIE KONTAKT in Antwerp, which existed until 1978. In the beginning, the program was aimed to the field of Lyrical Abstraction and Constructivism. The gallery presented: Eduard Bal, Bram Bogart, Jean Degottex, Lucio Fontana, Jef Geys, René Guiette, Paul Van Hoeydonck, Georges Mathieu, Vantangerloo etc. Later the program shifted to activities related to the new avant-garde movements such as visual poetry, sound poetry, sound art, conceptual art, Fluxus, mail art and artists' books.
In 1973 Guy Schraenen founded the publishing house GUY SCHRAENEN ÉDITEUR (Antwerp/Paris). Until 1978, he published artists' books, magazines, catalogues, ephemera, postcards, multiples, posters, records and films. The affiliated PRINTING WORKSHOP functioned as a very early artist residence where artists were invited to explore, conceive and realize, among others, silkscreens, small offset publications and mimeographed works. For many artists it was the occasion to publish a book for the first time. Among the artists who collaborated with Guy Schraenen were Eduard Bal, Bram Bogard, Ulises Carrión, Lourdes Castro, Henri Chopin, Jean Degottex, Mirtha Dermisache, Peter Downsbrough, François Dufrêne, Brion Gysin, Bernard Heidsieck, Françoise Janicot, Jiří Kolář, Bernard Villers and many others.
In 1974, Guy Schraenen's interest in Artists' publications and new cultural strategies gave rise to the founding of the ARCHIVE FOR SMALL PRESS & COMMUNICATION (A.S.P.C.) in Antwerp together with Anne Marsily. The aim was "...to collect and preserve all types of art documentation, emanating principally from artists’ initiatives and covering all fields the contamporary artist is active in." (Manifest A.S.P.C.). The collection includes Artists' publications mainly from the 1960s to the 1980s. These are visual works, sound works, text works and artists' writings. All together it is a fund of thousands of documents representing the works of several hundreds of artists from more than 25 countries. The A.S.P.C. is as well an artistic as a political statement. Although most of them are recognized now by a larger public, in this time they were neglected by the traditional art world. Therefore their preservation remains an important contribution to the knowledge of the international contemporary art scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Connected with the A.S.P.C. was an uninterrupted activity in its own ARCHIVE SPACE in which Guy Schraenen organised exhibitions, lectures, concerts etc. In many publications, as well as in his radio program I AM AN ARTIST, he gave public access to the gathered works. All this happened on individual base and in collaboration with artists’ run spaces, museums and cultural centres in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary, the Soviet Union, etc. In this frame he developed a close relationship with the Latin American and the Eastern European art scene.
In 1999, the A.S.P.C., a fund of ca. 50,000 documents, was acquired by the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen (Germany).
In 1989, Guy Schraenen became the founder curator of the artists' publication collection A MUSEUM WITHIN A MUSEUM in the NEUES MUSEUM WESERBURG BREMEN, the first autonomous department of its kind.
Since many years Guy Schraenen is also responsible for the collections and exhibitions of artists’ publications in the FUNDAÇÃO DE SERRALVES in Porto, the MUSEU D'ART CONTEMPORANI DE BARCELONA (MACBA), the MUSEO REINA SOFIA in Madrid, the INTERNATIONAL CENTRE OF GRAPHIC ARTS (mglc) in Ljubljana and other institutions.
Guy Schraenen. Essays, Statements, Interviews 1974-2013
Edited by Bettina Brach and Maike Aden, Centre for Artists' Publications, Bremen, 2013
The digital edition, as well as the printversion of Guy Schraenen’s “Collected Writings” give access to all the texts he published over four decades, from the 1970s up until the very recent past. They document his abiding interest in the history and the significance of the international networks underlying artists’ publications and initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s. He reflects upon the socio-political and cultural strategies of the artist-initiated art scene, which remained independent of the official art establishment.
The writings are presented in the form of facsimiles of the original publications. Most texts are in French and English, several also in other languages.