For nearly five decades a peculiar wooden object called the “Slant Step” was exchanged between artists from coast to coast, developing a cultlike following and inspiring poetry, art and unlikely collaborations. Artist William T. Wiley first came upon the original object at a salvage store in Northern California in 1965. Covered in worn green linoleum, it looked like a footstool; however, its sharp slanted riser mystified Wiley and Bruce Nauman, his student at the University of California, Davis. Wiley purchased the found object and gifted it to Nauman, who maintained possession over it until Richard Serra absconded with it from San Francisco to New York. In 1969, Sacramento artist Phil Weidman surveyed the first years of the “Slant Step” in an artist’s book that featured contributions by Nauman, Wiley, William Allan, Richard C., Jack Edwards, Jack Fulton, Ray Johnson, Steve Jongeward, Stephen Kaltenbach, Robert Leach, Jack Ogden, Frank Owen, Ron Peetz, Lawrence Dean Phillips, Peter Saul, Dorothy Wiley and William Witherup.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Weidman’s influential Slant Step Book is again available in a two-volume set. This long-overdue republication features a facsimile of the 1969 artist’s book and a companion catalog with new essays and visual responses by contemporary writers and artists such as Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Dan Nadel, Jacob Stewart-Halevy, Terry Berlier, Gordon Hall, Corin Hewitt, Aay Preston-Myint, Jessi Reaves, Mungo Thomson and Angela Willetts.