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09 Mar 2009

Rare Editions at Lehman College Art Gallery

Susan Joy Share, Zip-Off Fence, 2005, unique book piece

Rare Editions: The Book as Art


from February 10 to May 20, 2009
Tuesday - Saturday
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Reception: Monday, March 16, 2009, 6:00-7:30 pm


Bedford Park Boulevard West
Bronx, N.Y. 10468

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Brian Bellot, Doug Beube, Phong Bui, Beatrice Coron, Lesley Dill, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Anne Gilman, Scott McCarney Sabra Moore, Miriam Schaer, Susan Share, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Clarissa Sligh, Michelle Stuart, Kiki Smith, and Fluxus/George Maciunas Editor

Susan Fleminger, Guest Curator

Lehman College Art Gallery is pleased to present Rare Editions: The Book As Art. The exhibition presents a selection of work by 15 contemporary artists who use the book form as a container for their ideas, feelings, and aesthetic sensibilities. The exhibition includes unique one-of-a-kind objects, limited editions, and unlimited multiple editions. Many of the works are hybrids incorporating painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, photography, sculpture, installation, and performance. The artists in Rare Editions use a host of inventive strategies as they manipulate color, line, shape, pattern and texture and make decisions about type if text is part of their work. This wide variety of book structures includes accordions, single folds, scrolls, boxes, pop-ups, fans, tunnels and altered books. Content is as varied as format with artists exploring narratives inspired by poetry, literature and myth, aspects of the natural world, history and politics, the environment, biography and identity, and personal and aesthetic issues.

Artist's books are primarily a 20th century form. Dada and Surrealist artists wrote and illustrated their own poetry and experimented with collage and typography for manifestos, pamphlets, treatises, books, and periodicals. By the 1950's and early 60's, new ways of thinking about the book were developed in Europe by Dieter Roth who deconstructed the book by punching holes in it and using organic materials. In the United States Ed Ruscha created, published, and disseminated the first multiple art work, a book edition of 400 that were all considered originals, bypassing both galleries and publishers. Fluxus artists and composers, working in Germany and Japan as well as in the United States in the early '60s, were interested in blending art forms, chance, found elements, and collaborating on the creation of events, performance art, and festivals as well as books, boxes and multiples that centered around printed cards, games and random ideas. The social and political unrest and activism of the '60's was reflected in the development of Conceptual Art which challenged the status quo by breaking distinctions between art and life and by democratizing the art object. Conceptual artists documented their ideas through writing systems and strategies, diagrams, photography, and performance. These practices were central to the art of Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner, Bruce Nauman, and many others. Since the 80's, all forms of artist's books have proliferated with an increase of unique book objects as well as unlimited editions and low cost 'zines'. With the advent of the Internet, artist's books have made innovative use of electronic tools and continue to thrive and evolve.

This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust and The Beth M. Uffner Arts Fund / The New York Community Trust