L'énigme autodidacte. The Self-Taught Enigma
An exhibition catalogue on autodidacticism in the visual arts, the product of research by a university lecturer, is a compellingly simple yet substantial archive book with a straightforward design. A number of illustrated essays in a two-column layout and a serif font are followed by the catalogue section proper, with six thematic sections. Each begins with a single brown sheet, similar to the softcover, and presents a selection of self-taught processes and strategies with reference to the works of five to eight artists. All the participants – some very well known, others hardly at all – are allocated two pages of text and two of images, always in the same layout. For an exhibition catalogue containing such magnificent images it appears almost simplistic at first, but the raw archive form wins through in the end. The avoidance of any form of hierarchy or narrative means that all the works are accorded equal status, in line with the self-taught approach. The design of the front and back covers stands out, while the illustration of a work used as a title image – a one-way street sign divided into two – hints at the autodidact’s absence of rules.