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Invitations to an Exhibition…

Invitations to Art Exhibitions Using Unusual Formats and MaterialsInvitations to Art Exhibitions Using Unusual Formats and Materials, photo by Rita O'Hara

Collectors, art museum directors and curators receive piles of mail from artists , museums and art dealers including invitations to art exhibition openings. Museum art libraries often file invitations and other ephemera in artist files. The Libraries has a database that includes the Hirshhorn Museum Library’s 6100 files on individual artists.

Unusual invitations are filed separately at the Hirshhorn because of their odd shapes or because they seem precious and might be lost in a general file. They are one of our “hidden collections” that we show to special visitors, but are not visible to the public. They include a ping pong ball in a box (Gagosian Gallery), a cardboard horse in three pieces from Anders Tornberg Gallery in Lund, Sweden, and an orange foam bird ”It’s for the Birds” from Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Miami.

Sometimes a designer is hired by a gallery to produce its publications. Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco had an exhibition in 2006 “A Gallery in Ink” where they presented all printed publications including invitations; they worked for many years with designer, Catherine Mills. The publications are collaborative endeavors and play a role with the artists is defining the art gallery. The format and material attract attention and market the artist and the gallery exhibition.

For the recipient and the librarian, they are intriguing and amusing.  The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library  two signed invitations from Ubu Gallery, designed by Eileen Boxer; all her invitations are online. They are printed in small editions, for example 3000 for Ubu Gallery. The Musee de l’Elysee Lausanne, in Switzerland had an exhibition, “Ubu, New York, ou l’art de l’invitation.” Kathryn  Burns at Ubu Gallery said, “We here at the gallery have fun with them.”—Anna Brooke and Robert Allan

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