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Installation view of Printed Editions in the Sixties and Seventies: LeWitt, Roth, Ruscha. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Printed Editions in the Sixties and Seventies: LeWitt, Roth, Ruscha

Friday, July 11, 2014
Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gallery for Small Sculpture

In the 1960s and 1970s, a time of great political and socioeconomic change, artists’ books gained new prominence as an alternative medium. Books—relatively inexpensive to produce, with the potential to be printed in large editions—enabled artists to disseminate their ideas to a broad audience. At the same time, the book format allowed artists to engage viewers in an intimate way and to bypass traditional exhibition venues.

Printed Editions in the Sixties and Seventies: LeWitt, Roth, Ruscha featured a selection of artists’ books and prints from the Albright-Knox’s Collection by three pioneering artists who reenvisioned what a book could be: Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007), Dieter Roth (German, 1930–1998), and Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937).

For LeWitt, books offered an alternative mode of artistic production. He once commented, “The narrative of serial art works more like music than like literature.” In the works on view, LeWitt’s lines, shapes, and colors build upon each other from page to page in abstract permutations that imply a serial progression akin to a musical composition.

Roth deconstructed the traditional form of the book most systematically throughout the sixties and seventies. His prolific graphic production includes many artists’ books that catalogue his own work in various media.

Ruscha’s books from this period reflect his artistic production, documenting the repetitive and seemingly banal appearance of American life through photographic series that present specific sites with deadpan realism.

This exhibition highlighted some of the best-known artists’ books in the Albright-Knox’s collection—such as Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Los Angeles, 1966)—and includes others that deserve greater visibility. LeWitt, Roth, and Ruscha helped expand the possibilities for printed editions during the sixties and seventies. Printed Editions was an opportunity for visitors to rediscover the form of the book through the hands of artists who understood the poetry of small things.

This exhibition was organized by Curatorial Assistant Laura Brill.

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