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From Gutenberg to the Gallery: Five Decades of Print and Book Art

Letterform Archive

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In The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Marshall McLuhan argued that significant changes in technology would generate massive cultural transformations that will permanently alter the form and function of the book. Fundamentals of bookmaking have not changed much since the contributions of Gutenberg, but the cultural environments in which they have been grounded, expanded, and received certainly have. Effects of the electronic environment, among other things, allowed the book form to upgrade its status as a work of art, and ushered in the era that we now recognize as “book arts.” Opportunities accompanying technological innovations continually provide unanticipated pathways for the book arts community to learn and flourish within our print-based media ecology. 

Join us for an evening with Harry Reese, this year’s Lieberman lecturer, as he recounts his years as a graduate student at Brown University when he started the literary small press, Turkey Press, in partnership with his wife Sandra Liddell Reese. Their work has embraced patterns of personal discovery and dedicated workmanship that led to making, exhibiting, and teaching – all within the relatively new context of the book, considered as a contemporary work of art. This lecture will illustrate, through the sharing of works under the Turney Press and Edition Reese imprints, that as the humanities have become more visual, the contemporary artist book demands much more attention, conversation, and understanding than ever before from its makers, readers, curators, and collectors.

The annual Lieberman Lecture commemorates J. Ben Lieberman (1914–1984), founder and first president of the American Printing History Association. The lecture is a moveable feast, given at a different institution each year, by a figure distinguished in the history of printing or the book arts.