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[BKARTS] bookbinding exhibition in Washington, D.C. - Through December 30, 2003.

This announcement is being posted on behalf of Joshua Heller.  Any questions
should be directed to him at: <HellerBkDC@xxxxxxx>.


DC. Through December 30, 2003.

"You cannot judge a book by its cover." We hear this adage from earliest
childhood, and without a doubt it is valuable advice for everyday life.  And
yet, throughout the history of book making, the pleasure of a fine binding
has contributed to the aesthetic appreciation involved in both reading and
scholarship.  In the past century the craft of individually designed and
hand tailored book bindings has been elevated to the noblest aspirations of
art. The designer book binding is to the standard mass market hardcover what
a fine gourmet repast is to the most rudimentary bowl of oatmeal.

As the noted authority John Harthen, former Keeper of the Library at the
Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has written, "The concept of
?original¹ binding, in the sense of an original design made for a book, is
largely a twentieth-century invention which has opened up new dimensions for
the art of the book. In earlier periods binding design had little relation
to the text within the book but reflected, usually somewhat tardily, the
common ornamental styles of the period. Today the artist-binder regards the
book on which he is working with considerably more respect than his
predecessors. He studies the text of his author, the style and colour of the
illustrations, even peculiarities of typography and layout and only then, by
choice, produces a design for the covers which will be a personal synthesis
reflecting the different elements of the whole book."

Cocoran Gallery Curator, Eric Denker, the noted Whistler scholar, inspired
by design bindings from the Behrmann Collection immediately felt that they
should have a wider audience, making this the first showcasing of the Book
Arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. It is worth mentioning here that this
prestigious gallery was founded in 1869 and is the largest non-federal art
museum in the nation¹s capital. It was Washington¹s first museum and ranks
as one of the three oldest museums in the United States. It has proved
itself to be a much admired Washington institution with its fine exhibition
schedule and its beautiful and sumptuous permanent collection which is
admired not only in the Washington area, but also throughout the United

The Fourteen beautiful bindings currently being exhibited from the Cecil
Gordon Behrmann Collection are superb examples of their art, from the
relatively austere example of Arthur Budd to the more flamboyant design of
Chris Hicks. Also included are bindings from the hand of Philip Smith, James
Brockman and Ivor Robinson. The bindings are on show through December 30,
2003. The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Joshua
Heller Rare Books, Inc., of Washington, DC.

The distinguished collector Cecil Gordon Behrmann (1908-1992) was born in
South Africa.  From an early age books provided him with pleasure and an
escape from the sometimes tumultuous world around him.  He earned university
degrees in Commerce and Engineering, the formal education that led to his
success as one of the major property developers of his era in South Africa.
Behrmann retired at age sixty to devote himself to his other interests.
Though his primary hobby was the construction of model steam engines, his
books were his most cherished possessions. His library demonstrated his
multifaceted interests, and included a fine selection of books on South
African flora.  The crown jewel in his collection was the small, but choice,
group of volumes by world famous designer book binders. His love of the
beautifully hand bound book gave impetus to his establishing a scholarship
at his alma mater, the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, to make
sure that the tradition of the hand bound designer book continued in South
Africa.  This exhibition from his library serves as testament to his
enlightened patronage to the art of the book.

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