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Archive for the ‘Artists’ Books’ Category

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Back in October, Peter wrote about our Harbor Press ephemera collection.  Today, I’m spotlighting another collection of fine books, these designed by master printer Ronald Gordon, Amherst class of 1965.

While a student at Amherst College, Ronald Gordon studied the craft of printing and bookmaking with artist and print-maker Leonard Baskin and printer Harold McGrath.  Gordon interned at Baskin’s Gehenna Press in Northampton, Mass and as part of his senior honors thesis, Gordon designed and printed Jubilate Agno: Part One under The Apiary Press, Smith College’s student publication imprint.

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Just yesterday in the Archives Reading Room a student was looking over an artist book from our collection that caught my eye.  It is accurate to say that any book that comes in its very own egg casing typically does catch my eye.

IMG_1733The book is Evolve/Unroll by book artist Sara Press, published in 2012 by her imprint Deeply Game Publications. (more…)

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Here in the Reading Room of the Special Collections, we have on semi-permanent exhibit a 3 piece unique art collection comprised of a newspaper publication, a lead-encased book of posters, and a one-of-a-kind art installation.  The installation consists of 432 color slides permanently mounted in a sizable light box.  The slides show the creation and in situ installations of street art posters from Bullet Space’s “Your House is Mine” project. The light box itself is constructed from a frame originally used for the silkscreen printing of the posters.

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Milliken, Don  OR #44

Milliken, Don
OR #44

Correspondence is, at its best, an intimate gesture.

It is a pure idea
often direct and unrefined
It may also become
political,
psychological,
religious,
outrageous,
sentimental,
humorous,
horrific,
enlightening,
or indulgent

(Excerpt from an unpublished statement, 1984.  From Commentaries on the New Media Arts by Robert C. Morgan)

Open a box in the Don Milliken Collection of Correspondence Art and Related Materials and you will find zines, and postcards, and artists’ books, and newspapers, and stamp collections, and packets of stickers, photographs, letters, collages, and envelopes of all shapes from people all over the world.  This is one of the great things about correspondence art: the sheer variety of materials and themes that compile this worldwide art movement, emphasizing the inclusive participation of artists and amateurs in a variety of media through the use of the postal system.

The Northampton Herald 1982

The Northampton Herald
1982

Correspondence art, also called mail art or postal art, began in the 1960s.  While difficult to trace the origins of this movement, most sources agree that correspondence art began as a reaction to the commodification and commercialization of art.  In the competitive world of exclusive art museums and juried exhibitions, artists and amateurs sought to re-emphasize the joy of creating and experiencing art, and to create new paradigms for the art world focused on sharing and exchange.

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When I first saw the latest addition to our artists’ book collection, I thought “Now I’ve seen everything!”

A completely blank book?

A completely blank book?

All the pages are blank! As we have seen before on this blog, artists’ books come in all shapes and sizes. We even hold a copy of the world’s largest magazine issue. So anything is possible.

But then I saw the small accessory that accompanies the book – an ultraviolet flashlight!

The plot thickens...

The plot thickens…

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In the fall of 2011 we mounted an exhibition of Native American materials housed in the Archives & Special Collections to coincide with an extended visit from Fred Hoxie, a specialist in Native American history. Professor Hoxie graduated from Amherst College in 1969 and returned to campus as the 2011 Frost Fellow, sponsored by the Friends of Amherst College Library. While Native American history and culture is not one of our greatest strengths, the collection does contain a few gems.

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Didier Mutel speaking about “The Out Side” in Archives and Special Collections

The Amherst College Libraries have a strong collection of artists’ books, some in Special Collections and many more in Frost. When combined with collections at Smith, Hampshire, and UMass, the Pioneer Valley is home to rich resources for those studying all forms of the book arts.

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