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Author: Alexandra Reigle

Corcoran Students Visit Hirshhorn Museum to Study Library’s Artists’ Books

Corcoran Class looking at Artists' Books
Kerry McAleer-Keeler with her Art and the Book Program class from Corcoran examining some Artists’ Books

This post was written by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Head Librarian Anna Brooke.

Six students from the Corcoran College of Art + Design, Art and the Book Program, visited the Hirshhorn Museum on Friday November 8. Accompanied by Assistant Professor and book maker, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, and Pat Reid, Technical Services Associate for the Corcoran Library, the students examined 23 artists’ books from the Hirshhorn Museum Library’s collection which were on display in the board room.

Identifying ‘French Moderns’ from a 1930s Soviet Publication

The 22 Selected Masterpieces: French Moderns
The 22 Selected Masterpieces: French Moderns portfolio at the Hirshhorn Library

This was written by Hirshhorn Library volunteer, Elena Grant.

In the summer of 2013, while preparing donated books for cataloging at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden library, we discovered an uncatalogued item—a 14 ½ by 11 ½-inch portfolio of reproductions titled 22 Selected Masterpieces: French Moderns, Museum of New Western Art, Moscow, USSR. The unfamiliar publisher name “Bookniga” and name of the long-extinct museum in the title attracted our attention. We decided to investigate the story behind this old publication.

Discussing Contemporary Art Research with Tyler Green

Berkeley No. 22, 1954
Berkeley No. 22, 1954. Richard Diebenkorn, American, b. Portland, Oregon, 1922–1993. Oil on canvas, 59 x 57 in. (149.8 x 144.8 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Most art history students have had to tackle an assignment that requires researching a contemporary artist. Quickly, it becomes clear that the research of contemporary artists involves a different research process than more seasoned artists. The resources that students would normally access first, such as catalogue raisonnés or retrospective exhibition catalogues, most likely do not exist yet. So, what sources are available to researchers of contemporary art and how does a contemporary art museum library cater to those needs? These are questions we ask ourselves when building and managing our collection.

Defaced Donation Leads to Exhibition Exploration

Imagining Our Future Together: South Asia Artists Exhibition catalogue
Imagining Our Future Together: South Asia Artists Exhibition catalogue

This is a post written by Rita O’Hara who works at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library.

In February, Richard Koshalek, the Hirshhorn Museum director donated to the library a copy of The World Bank exhibition catalog entitled Imagining Our Future Together: South Asia Artists. The exhibit featured the winners of a regional art competition organized by the World Bank’s South Asia vice presidency and the World Bank Art Program. This gift of the catalog led to a reconnection with a former classmate and a field trip to The World Bank.

Visionaire at the Hirshhorn Library

One of the pieces from Visionaire, no. 33
One of the pieces from Visionaire issue “Touch” where actual string is stitched into the cardboard sheet.

The Hirshhorn Library has had the benefit of receiving creative, non-traditional items from generous contributors that reflect a playfulness with format and materials found in contemporary art.  One such unexpected gift was that of the art and fashion periodical Visionaire , which has been published three times a year in limited quantities since 1991. Each issue has a particular theme that is illustrated in some form or another through the collaboration of Visionaire with contemporary artists and fashion designers from around the world.

Featuring Artists’ Books in a Museum’s Collection

Mungo Thomson
Negative Space. Ringier, Zurich: 2007.

On Friday, September 28th, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Head Librarian Anna Brooke gave a presentation at the NY Art Book Fair’s Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference on how artists’ books can be used in conjunction with a museum’s collection to provide greater insight into an artist’s body of work. Work studies student Lauren Zook, currently enrolled in the George Mason – Smithsonian collaborative masters program for decorative arts, aided in developing the presentation and has written a summary of it for our blog.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library has acquired an unusual type of book—the artist’s book.  Some of these books are mass publications and others are unique and vary in size and shape.  A new initiative has been made by the Smithsonian Libraries to make these artists’ books more accessible to the public and protect them from damage.  Most of the artists’ books at the Hirshhorn Library were produced by artists represented in the museum’s collection.  These artists’ books can provide new insight to an artist’s work, show similar themes, and can even be shown in galleries as autonomous works of art.