[Bankeryd, Sweden]: Privately printed, 1963. Large oblong folio, measuring 13 x 24 inches. Beige buckram boards with screen-printed color pictorial pastedowns, patterned endpapers. Twelve leaves, screen-printed in full color on rectos only, inserted on stubs: title page, colophon, and ten serigraphs. Housed in original slipcase with screen-printed pastedowns to both panels. Lightest soiling and rubbing to binding; slipcase worn.
Stunning privately printed artist’s book, one of twenty hors commerce copies, produced entirely in serigraph by Swedish artist Malte Axelsson. The narrative follows a small family of trolls who live in Stockholm’s Slussen district, a transportation hub famous for its historic system of locks, metro station, bus terminal, and a massive cloverleaf overpass built in the 1930s. The trolls love the urban congestion of Slussen, and go unnoticed by the people around them, who think only of themselves as they navigate the traffic. The troll children live on petrol and oil, play dangerous games on the stairs to the Saltsjö train, and befriend a transparent tunnel-ghost who tells them stories about the world outside Slussen. Each vibrant serigraph depicts a panoramic tableau of modern Swedish civil engineering, with the trolls (and in the final image, the ghost) moving unseen through crowded, bustling public spaces. In 2016, the iconic Slussen cloverleaf was demolished as part of an ongoing reconstruction of the area, after heated public debate. A contemporary Swedish newspaper report on the creation of Sluss-Trollen Rull notes that despite its apparently childlike theme, Axelsson’s book is directed at “bibliofiler och konstsamlare” (libraries and art collectors), rather than children (Jönköpings-Posten, November 5, 1963). The signed limited edition, which followed the twenty hors commerce copies, was issued in a run of 150, with the addition of a pictorial title page (here used as the pastedown cover design). OCLC locates only one copy of Sluss-Trollen Rull in the United States, at Princeton, and two copies overseas. A near-fine example of a scarce and captivating modern artist’s book.