Reading Proposition, an installation at the National Art Library

Reading Proposition, a one-day installation for the London Design Festival by Helmut Völter at the National Art Library, Sunday, September 18, 11 am – 3 pm

Special event at 1 pm: Helmut Völter in conversation with V&A Photographs Curator Susanna Brown about his residency and research on the V&A’s Photographic Collections


On Sunday, September 18, I will use two large tables in the National Art Library to lay out photographs, books, prints and drawings from the V&A collection that form together my installation Reading Proposition. While I work with reproductions in my other installation The Cabinets, these are all original artworks!

The first table has the title Pictures of Plants. It is about the different ways and ideas how plants were represented by scientists as well as by artists. The second table is about Writing. Here, I selected images that show that writing does not only mean conveying a message, but that it is also a gesture and the creation of a form.

I have selected six artworks for this blogpost that show the range of images on display, which go from 18th-century botanical illustration over the famous photographs by Brassaï to 1970s computer art by Manfred Mohr.


Left image, from the table Writing: Graffiti, Enfant à la Sauvette, photograph by Brassaï  (1930); right image, from the table Pictures of Plants: Dandelion, engraving based on a drawing by William Kilburn (1777-98)


Left image, from the table Pictures of Plants: Young Man with a Flower, photograph by Seydou Keita (1958); right image, from the table Writing: Scratch Code, screenprint by Manfred Mohr (1970-76)


Left image, from the table Writing: Letter C from Nonsense Alphabet, drawing by Edward Lear (1880);  right image, from the table Pictures of Plants: Diplodenia, photograph by Henry Irving (c. 1900)