When studying the collection at MoMA Library, we often reveal compelling stories of how certain books were produced and how these objects travelled through the world. With experimental art and design publications of the 20th century, part of the story of a book’s history relates to its circulation from the hands of friends to a wider audience, into the collections of museums and libraries.
I have the privilege and challenge of working with artists and other collaborators to produce artist's books for The Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art. These limited-edition publications are intended to explore the art of the book as they benefit and shed light on MoMA’s research collections. Upon seeing the most recent publication in the MoMA Library, Lily Pregill of the New York Art Resources Consortium asked me to write about The Library Council’s most recent book, The Island of Rota by the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, the designer Ted Muehling, and the photographer Abelardo Morell, published in November, 2010. While I was very happy that this book had moved through the best of audiences (art librarians), I had to think twice when she asked me to write something that had not already appeared in our prospectus. The online prospectus is something like an expanded announcement, with a summary of the contributions and intentions of the artist as well as a detailed description of the physical qualities of the book.