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MOMA



The Louis Stern collection is part of the Print Dept, and includes the
Vollard books and many other beautiful Livres D'Artistes. It is accessible
by appointment (or it was when I last visited some years back). I hope they
replaced or removed the acidic glassine sleeves they had wrapped all the
books in "to protect them" (I pointed out to them that they had already
browned the books when I first saw them, I think it was about 1971 or 2)

The way museums are set up, a lot of what we think of as book art would be
in the sculpture dept. We don't yet have our own curators and department,
except in our own organizations. The museum heirarchy isn't set up to
identify the myriad aspects of bookness as one field (and let's ignore the
issues of curatorial jealousy and proprietary territoriality for the
moment). Look at all the work Mindy had to do at the Met to organize just a
catalog of the book holdings in the various departments.

We represent a new consciousness of what constitutes book art. Bit by bit
(byte?) we are maturing into positions of responsibility in institutions
around the world, and bringing our love and knowledge of bookform evolution
with us. Ed's attitude that MOMA should be doing more is understandable,
but the MOMA library is not necessarily set up for the sort of curatorial
care that more "object oriented" book art may require. The issue may not be
whether the library should expand the artist book collection to include
more expensive works (though some of the "under $20" books are now worth a
small fortune), but which department of the museum should be collecting
book art.

It brings up the larger issue of "is it book or is it art." As long as it
is relegated to the library, book art will never have significant impact as
an art movement. There are cultural and economic implications of this. The
museum-going public should be exposed to what we do in the same way as they
are exposed to works in other media, and fortunately many museums have
recognized this and mounted significant exhibitions. Hopefully it is only a
matter of time before this interest in showing the work is followed by an
interest in collecting it. If people have to make an appointment in a
library to see it you can forget about any mainstream interest.

I've been on the visionary path with this issue for over two decades now,
with love and enthusiasm for this medium. Maybe one day a benefactor will
come and endow a Department of Book Art in a major museum, or the public
demand will be so strong that the institutions will be embarrassed not to
have one. Every one of the book art exhibits that we mount in our small
organizations, or that we have for a short time in our museums, adds to the
number of people who understand what we're doing. Twenty years ago if I
said "book art" at a party people would get a glazed look and wander off.
Now almost everyone I meet knows at least vaguely what it is, and often has
a friend who's doing it. That's progress.

--
Richard
http://www.minsky.com


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