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"Conceptual Art and Travelers' Tales in Book As Art XI"
1999-07-19 until 1999-12-31
National Museum of Women in the Arts
USA United States of America
Book as Art XI, the latest exhibition in the annual series
showcasing artists' books at the National Museum of Women in the Arts,
includes a strong representation of works by internationally recognized
conceptual artists and by artists taking both real and imaginary journeys.
Book as Art XI will be on view in the museum's Library and Research
Image: Barbara Fahrner
watercolor and ink
13 x 11 1/2 in.
Agnes Denes, one of the originators of Conceptual Art, employs mathematics,
science, philosophy, and psychology in her art. Her book Fragmentation,
consisting of a poem and six etchings, is a hymn to the mind that measures,
decodes, solves, and creates. Drawings and prints in Fragmentation include
alternative representations of the planet Earth as a cube, a pyramid, a snail, a
doughnut, a hot dog, a lemon, and an egg. The continents, flattened to fit the
oval of an egg or elongated to match the shape a hot dog, reiterate that things
are not always as they seem.
Another prominent artist whose roots stem from Conceptual and
Environmental Art is Michelle Stuart. Two of Stuart's bookworks, Baltic
Boat Book and Sea Turtle Stone Book, focus on her passion and constant
source of inspiration: travel to exotic locations. Visual sagas without text, both books are recollections of journeys. They are rendered on
monochromatic, square sheets of paper rubbed with gravel, plants, sand, and dust. Baltic Boat Book evokes the artist's sailing experience in a tiny
boat, as she remembers passing warships looming like giants, while our boat skimmed like a toy in a child's tub. Sea Turtle Stone Book was
inspired by Stuart's trip to Hawaii with her mother in 1984, where they visited sacred and historic sites.
Molly Van Nice is another type of traveler, going on journeys of the mind. Van Nice is a
collector and archivist who transforms and alters found objects, creating for them a new
poetic and visual context. Notings of the Journeyman, a series of 15 book-objects
contained in Van Nice's paintboxes, is a visual narrative of a life journey. The artist, who
collected for these works from the time she was a little girl, included in one book-object a
paper plate, a fork and knife, and a partly-consumed book. A voracious reader in addition to
being a worldly traveler, Van Nice devours her books.
In addition to conceptual
works, other highlights of
Book as Art XI include a
of Giacomo Puccini's
opera Turandot by
Barbara Fahrner; a
pop-up book of flowers
by Debra Weier; and a story, The Uneventful Life of Doņa Carmen y
Constanza by Inez Storer and Marie Dern. Sandra Jackman created Not
Just a Child Story, a tale of an abandoned boy pushing his baby sister in a
cart through the streets of an unnamed city as he forages in trash cans for
food. Laurie Jackson's miniature book bemoans the domestic chores of
Book as Art XI was funded in part by the Library Fellows of the National
Museum of Women in the Arts, Mrs. Oliver R. Grace, and museum members. The curator is Krystyna Wasserman, director of the Library and
Research Center and author of the exhibition brochure, available in the Museum Shop for $5.00.