[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Museum of Modern Art

It is my understanding that this collection policy, under Clive Philpot, was
developed at a time when at least a part of the artist's book movement was
specifically concerned with how artists might distribute work outside the
existing gallery/art market scene. Post-Fluxus, but to some degree
influenced by Fluxus. Thus a part of the artist's book world was
specifically about artists (many of which never defined themselves as book
artists) making works which could be extremely inexpensive, exist in
multiples, and be easily transportable.

I always thought that to collect these was an admirable goal. I never
mistook it for an attempt to be anywhere near comprehensive in terms of the
book arts, and I always imagined that the MOMA library was not particularly
interested in finely crafted (letterpress, papermaking, craft binding, etc.)
press books even when they did cost $20 or less -- such works were decidedly
outside the particular artist's book area the library was collecting.

So -- limited. Yes, extremely. But a disgrace? I don't think so. And I think
that describing artists who make such books as "locked in time, perpetually
trying to re-live the Fluxus movement, when the rest of the book arts
community has moved on," is insulting to many artists who have had nothing
to do with Fluxus, also insulting to the Fluxus movement itself.

I don't make many $20-and-under books myself, but I certainly hope there is
still a place for them, and I know that many are still being made which are
indeed inspired art, which can take place no matter what the price. I may
wish MOMA had a wider and better funded artists' book/book arts collection
policy, but they don't.


>Several years ago I met Clive Philpot, who used to be responsible for the
>collection.  He told me that he was only collecting books under $20 and that

>It's ironic that other departments at MOMA are known for collecting the best
>work available in their fields, while the book arts collection is content to
>collect just the cheapest.  There appears to be little understanding or
>appreciation for fine letterpress printing, papermaking, craft binding,
>innovative structures, or inspired artisanship.  It is like they are locked
>in time, perpetually trying to re-live the Fluxus movement, when the rest of
>the book arts community has moved on.
>In a small local arts institution this collecting philosophy would be
>considered an inspired use of limited funds.  But for a world-class
>institution, like MOMA it is nothing less than a disgrace.

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]