I recently walked through the Elizabeth Sackler wing on the 4th floor of the Brooklyn Museum and found myself at Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. This led, quite naturally, to thoughts of food and entertaining. Food evokes an emotional response through both flavor and presentation, and new recipes are the result of creativity. All of these qualities tie the edible to the artistic. Entertaining, too, has a connection to art. The host picks china, glassware, and linens that please the eye and sprinkles them with food to please the tongue and conversation to please the ear. A dinner party could be described as a performance piece enacted by the host and guests. This connection has resulted in a gorgeous array of artists’ books on the subject of food and entertaining.
After spending the past six months processing the Art & Project/Depot VBVR Gift as Project Cataloger to the MoMA Library it seems timely to report on the venerable cache of materials. These materials are incorporated to the library collection as a gift from Adriaan van Ravesteijn, co-founder of the preeminent gallery for Conceptual Art in Amsterdam, Art & Project, which ceased operations in 2001 after 30 years of programming. The Art & Project/Depot VBVR Gift arrived at the library summer 2010, with materials reflecting relationships with the artists represented in the gallery program, including materials ranging from rare exhibition catalogs and artists’ books to monographs and ephemera.
Processing the acquisitions on the Special Collections shelf is always a highlight of my week, especially when I know we’re expecting mail from Printed Matter or a book artist has been by to visit recently. I approach the task knowing that strange and beautiful books of all shapes and sizes await me, and that processing will most likely not entail the usual rote click-click-click through, a cog in the wheel of acquisitions procedure, as the majority of the artist’s books we acquire are not in OCLC's WorldCat, a world-wide catalog of library catalogs, and require a unique new record to be generated.
While I usually have artist books on-the-brain to some degree, they’ve been on my mind more than usual lately, as I prepare a presentation to Brooklyn Museum interns and staff in early April highlighting recent acquisitions to Brooklyn’s artists' books collection. I’d like to take the opportunity to share a few of these with our readers here at the NYARC.org blog.
Several MoMA Library staff members are heavily involved in an exciting upcoming event, the 3rd annual Contemporary Artists' Books Conference, to be held at PS1 on November 5-6. The conference is sponsored by Printed Matter, and held in conjunction with the NY Art Book Fair. The program will include speakers, panels, artists' presentations, and receptions.