Filed in Exhibitions, Past Exhibitions by on October 7, 2017
Photo credit: Philip Guston (1913-1980) Book 1968 charcoal on paper 23 x 25 1/2 inches Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, Gift of Musa and Tom Mayer

Exhibiting Artists

Konrad Cramer
Max Ernst
Mary Frank
Philip Guston
Ronald King
Polly Kline
Ann Kresge
Susan Mills
Shiv Mirabito
Catherine Murphy
Tom Nozkowski
Michele Oka Doner
Harry Roseman
Dieter Roth
Jan Sawka
Clarissa Sligh
Jenny Snider
Ann Waldman
Emmett Williams
Peter Lamborn Wilson
Arnold Wiltz

October 7 – December 31, 2017

Reception: Saturday, October 7, 4-6 PM

Phoebe and Belmont Towbin Wing

Curated by John Yau

Gallery Talk: Saturday, November 4, 2 PM
Admission: $12/$8 WAAM members

Many years ago, I came across two statements by the French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé that I have never forgotten. This is the first one: “The world exists to end up in a book.”  This is the second: “Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book.” Mallarmé believed the world is small enough to fit inside a book, and that a book is large enough to embrace the world.

I knew that Philip Guston, a longtime resident of Woodstock, did many drawings of an open book, sometimes lying on a table and sometimes standing erect like a monument. He was a friend of poets and collaborated with many of them, including his wife Musa, on poem-drawings. Mallarmé’s statements and Guston’s drawings of books and his friendship with poets were my guides for this show.  

First there is what goes into a book, the infinite number of subjects that slip between its covers as if it is a container whose boundaries can stretch in any direction. And then there is the book as an object, a world unto itself. All the work in this exhibition has, in different ways, taken the challenge of making Mallarmé’s propositions concrete. There is a book that is a freestanding sculpture open to the world and our curiosity. There is a bookplate; a drawing for a book cover; and a drawing of a town’s post office, where surely books and manuscripts were once sent and received.

Mallarmé was admired by artists, and his portrait was done by a number of painters, including Edouard Manet and Paul Gauguin. Nadar took his photograph.

I was interested in collaborations between artists and poets, as well as printers and poets. Whatever a book is, it is often a thing made by two or more individuals. It is this sense of a book’s magic – its ability to embrace worlds, from the real to the imaginary – that I wanted to touch upon in this exhibition.

John Yau

John Yau is a poet, fiction writer, critic, publisher of Black Square Editions, and freelance curator.  His reviews have appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Art News, Bookforum, and the Los Angeles Times. He was the arts editor for the Brooklyn Rail from 2006 to 2011. In January 2012 he started the online magazine HyperallergicWeekend with three other writers. A graduate of Bard College and Brooklyn College, Yau is currently Professor of Critical Studies at Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University.

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