wit - white - 白い - [white sanskrit]

catalogue number: hdv 2012.081.1
date created: 1980/2012
classification: editions & publications
work type: artist's publication
medium: facsimile of the 3rd edition of 1980: 362 blank pages in white cover; on a broad white strip (belly band) author, title (in Dutch, English, Japanese and Sanskrit) and impressum are printed, on the first flap a text by herman de vries in Dutch, English, French and German: 'about this universal book, which neutralizes all contradictions / whose content is intelligible to everyone / which resolves all problems and isolates nothing of reality / at the expense or for the benefit of any aspect, remains to be said / that it represents a positive contribution to the synthesis of all'
dimensions: 21 × 15 × 3 cm
signature and inscriptions: uninscribed
published in the series 'Reprint Collection', curated by Anne Moeglin-Delcroix and Clive Phillpot by Zédélé Éditions : Brest 2012
edition unlimited [1ste edition 1000]
current repository:
current repository number:
collecting history:
related works:
comment: inserted a small piece of paper with text in French and English: the story of this book dates back to 1960.  closely associated with the zero group, but also drawn to the buddhist concept of emptiness, herman de vries had just produced a series of white monochromes when he self-published a twenty-page booklet in arnhem.  it had no title, its cover was blank and its pages were unprinted.  it contained nothing but a short final poem celebrating, in four languages, the superabundance of white: 'wit is overdaad'.
in 1962, this manifesto appeared in another version, now entitled wit: two hundred blank pages, four white collages by the artist and an introduction, itself completely blank, by the poet j.c. van schagen, published in arnhem in only five copies by m.j. israel.  it was followed in 1967 by a second 'revised' edition, wit weiss: two hundred and fifty blank pages, pocket-sized, in five hundred copies, published by hansjörg mayer in stuttgart.  the only printed elements were the artist's name, the title and the publisher's name on the cover, the word 'introduction' and the name of its author on the very first page and a colophon on the final page.
in 1980 the artists press in bern published the 'third revised edition', in a larger format and with more pages.  the original title wit was translated into english and japanese and into sanskrit with a word that means 'white' in the sense of bright, pure, immaculate.  the title itself does not appear on the book, which remains completely blank.  it is printed with the paratext on a broad strip of paper in the form of a detachable publicity strip.  the inside flap contains a brief statement initially dating back to the 1962 edition, stating that this book incorporates all aspects of reality.  of the five thousand copies advertised, only a hundred were published.  it is this last edition, the most radical, which is republished here, the only addition being the french translation of the statement.
on 1 april 2012, herman de vries wrote of his book, insisting on the importance of the final comma: 'white is white / 0 = 0 / no name / no idea / not even emptiness,'
photo/scan: collection l-cs
rights & reproduction: herman de vries
exhibition history
2023 'Blank. Raw. Illegible ... Artists' Books as Statements (1960–2022)', Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren [group]
published references
exhibition catalogue Blank. Raw. Illegible ... Artists' Books as Statements (1960–2022) (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König : Cologne 2023) image repr. on page 20 (catalogue number 5).