Off the Shelf: Artists' Books from Amherst College Collections

September 4 - November 18, 2007

Since the early twentieth century, many artists who are also writers and writers who make art have been designing books that magnify the communicative power of their separate media and bypass traditional modes of distribution and display. While some artists’ books are unique objects or are produced in limited editions, this exhibition focuses on the strengths of Amherst College’s collections: artists‚ books produced as multiples—works that embrace what Walter Benjamin called “the age of mechanical reproduction.”

Highlights include El Lissitzky’s masterpiece of Constructivist book art, A Suprematist Tale of Two Squares (1922), Gabriel Pomerand’s Lettrist rebus-book, Saint Ghetto des Prêts (1950), and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). Rarer works are exhibited in cases; other volumes are available for browsing. Visitors are encouraged to use the seating area to peruse books from the open shelf at their leisure.

The exhibition features books from the Center for Russian Culture, the Mead Art Museum, Archives and Special Collections, and the open stacks of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. Support for the exhibition is provided by the David Mesker (Class of 1953) Fund and the Julia A. Whitney Fund. Michael Kasper, Reference Librarian and Collection Development Coordinator at Amherst College, organized the exhibition in conjunction with BookMarks: A Celebration of the Art of the Book, a Museums10 initiative.

With the support of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Amherst Area and Northampton Chambers of Commerce, the Pioneer Valley's great literary traditions come alive this fall with a series of exhibitions and programs dedicated to bookmaking, printing, picture book art, literature, and literacy. For more information regarding events related to Bookmarks, please visit:


Gallery Talk: Guest Curator, Michael Kasper
Thursday, September 27, 2007, 4:30 p.m.
Fairchild Gallery, Mead Art Museum
Reception to follow in museum
Free, fully accessible, and open to the public