The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced that the museum’s most anticipated exhibition of the spring, Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books, will be on view March 12- June 25, 2017. The exhibition presents more than 130 artists’ books—artworks conceived of and produced in book form—and prints by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Kiki Smith, David Hockney, and Ed Ruscha. Stephen King, Frank O’Hara, and Robert Creeley are among the 30+ authors represented. More than half of the artists’ books and related prints in the exhibition have never before been on view at the BMA.
Off the Shelf explores a variety of subjects from animals and classic children’s tales such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to works by specific artists, such as Pierre Bonnard, Wassily Kandinsky, and Dieter Roth. Among the many notable collaborations highlighted in the exhibition are My Pretty Pony (1988) by Stephen King and Barbara Kruger; The Departure of the Argonaut (1986), an enormous volume—more than 4 feet wide when opened—of color lithographs by Francesco Clemente and letterpress text by Albert Salvinio; 1¢ Life (1964), more than 60 vibrant color lithographs by Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and others that accompany poems by Walasse Ting; Ready for Anything (1958), Joan Miró’s whimsical color woodcuts with text by Paul Éluard; and Bestiary, or The Parade of Orpheus (1911), a book of elaborate animal woodcuts by Raoul Dufy with poems by Guillaume Apollinaire.
Digital images of several of the artist’s books and related videos, including a recording of a self-playing piano using Michalis Pichler’s A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance (2008) as sheet music, will be available for visitors on iPads in the exhibition. Facsimiles of some of the books, as well as English translations of some of the foreign language texts, will also be available.
Off the Shelf: Modern & Contemporary Artists’ Books was organized in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins University’s Program in Museums and Society, and supported by The Johns Hopkins University through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Trust U/W of Helen M. Hughes.
In the spring of 2016, Rena Hoisington taught the course Paper Museums: Exhibiting Artists’ Books at The Baltimore Museum of Art for 11 undergraduates from The Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art: Taylor Alessio, Helena Arose, Alaina Arthur, Sarah Braver, Elizabeth Glass, Grace Golden, Jovan Ivezic, Elena Kuivila, Amelia Powell, Julia Raphael, and Mary Turner. These students helped to determine the checklist and thematic organization of the exhibition as well as write the label texts for the books and print.
The BMA is located at 10 Art Museum Drive, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
For general museum information, call 443-573-1700 or visit artbma.org