Codex Seraphinianus, hands on review of new Rizzoli edition

I was so excited when I heard about this new print edition of the Codex Seraphinianus, I could not resist pre-ordering it. The Codex is an incredible, surreal, encyclopedia of a reality known only to Luigi Serafini... and maybe his cat.

I've wanted to physically handle a copy for ages. When Cory shared this illicitly available PDF version a few years back, I was hooked. Print copies were expensive! Then Xeni shared this interview over on Dangerous Minds with the Rizzoli publisher about a new edition-- I'd finally be able to own a copy for $75!

I spent a few weeks wondering what would it look like. Would the print be too cheap? Finally, it showed up!

Close-up to show paper texture

Rizzoli did a beautiful job. There is no question that every page of this book is an incredible work of art and this printing does it justice. The detail was really quite surprising to me. It looked far better to me than the files I've seen on the internet, the color of the inks are beautiful. The paper has a wonderful texture, is a solid weight and really displays the colors well. The experience of 'reading' over the Codex is a tactile one as well as visual and very, very cerebral. The image above attempts to display it.

Our prior posts share the story of Serafini and how he created, or transcribed, this incredibly alien but all too human text. I've spent more hours working out the numbering system and trying to understand the created code Serafini wrote the entire book in, than I have appreciating the fantastic artwork.

I'm a bit frustrated with the cover (pictured at the top), to be honest. It is of fine quality but not really as nice as I'd hoped. Its beige and just kinda fairly beige. I know the ladybugs are a well-known image from the very large body of work, but it just doesn't sit right with me. I do not know what I expect for $75 and maybe I'm just being unfair. This edition certainly holds a central spot in my cabinet of curiosities.

If you've long wanted a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus but were scared of the high prices, this is the edition for you.

Codex Seraphinianus, new Rizzoli edition