Standard Edition, 1988

Object, 30.5 x 15.5 x 261.5 cm

The intellectualism that is omnipresent in the works of Rodney Garham (Abbotsford, Canada, 1949) has not prevented him from becoming an artist of international renown. With their minimalist language and cold aesthetic, many of his works are kind of visual comment on key texts and authors from the Western cultural tradition: Georg Büchner, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Raymond Roussel and, above all, Sigmund Freud. His works (books, sculptural objects, films, music recordings, performances, photographs and paintings) often obey a circular or loop logic that arises from the representations that furnish our image of the world. Like Freud, Graham has also dedicated himself to exploring the dark side, dreams and life's outer fringes.

Rodney Graham shares the minimalist language of his contemporaries who formed part of the Vancouver group in the late sixties (Ken Lum, Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace), but the cultural references that he draws on lead his work to focus on text. Heir to a tradition that begins with Stéphane Mallarmé and Raymond Roussel and ties into structuralism, Graham equates text with the production of meaning. For his series of book-objects, Graham takes books by nineteenth and twentieth century authors and turns them into objectual pieces. This sometimes entails covering existing books, or making visual interventions in the text, and he often designs boxes and reading machines, or transforms text into a sculptural object.

Standard Edition – a sculpture that is part text, part object – is one of Rodney Graham's best known works. Graham placed the 24 volume set of the complete works of Freud in a box shaped like a metal shelf and attached to the wall, and arranged them according to a pragmatic logic: the thickness of each volume determined the progression of the empty spaces. The work clearly makes reference to the minimalist boxes and cubic spaces in the work of Donald Judd, one of the visual artists who most influenced Rodney Graham. Graham does not see the recurring use of books in this work as a form of appropriation, but as “indexation”, in the sense that it becomes an annex to existing works, in this case philosophical tomes.

Technical details

Original title:
Standard Edition
Registration number:
Graham, Rodney
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Stainless steel, laten and books
30.5 x 15.5 x 261.5 cm (height x width x depth)
Edition number:
Ed. 3/3
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Fundación Repsol Collection
© Rodney Graham
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

If you need a high resolution image of the work, you must submit an image loan request.



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Son[i]a #96.