Since the 1970s, at moments of creative impasse Trockel has produced some two hundred drawings and collages known collectively as Book Drafts, a series that began as a fruitful way to overcome procrastination. The works (of which MoMA owns fifty) usually take the form of a book cover—sometimes with actual pages inside, sometimes simply a folded piece of paper—decorated with a title graphic and often accompanied by a drawing, collage, or found photograph or photocopy. The artistic richness of the Book Drafts paradoxically rests precisely in their generic formal characteristics rather than their individuality. Since the designs aren’t intended for publication (indeed, the books do not exist), they should not be understood as studies for future works but rather as proposals that were never intended to be fulfilled.
All the works follow a few basic rules of book design, and so the artist can focus on their other properties, such as the sharp-witted wordplay, often in German, of the titles: Spiral Betty, a simple play on the 1970 work Spiral Jetty by American artist Robert Smithson, is an obvious example. The Book Drafts, in their most essential function, are a vessel of associative thought that has carried the artist past a creative blockage and in a new direction.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)