Intersection of Art and Text On View Across Campus

The fall semester features two exhibitions opening in separate venues across campus that explore the theme of books as art, the art and craft of fine binding, and the intersection of art and text—Reading Pictures: Text and Image in Contemporary Art and The Book as Art: Beautiful Books. The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries invite the University community and general public to attend the joint opening reception on Thursday, September 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the atrium of Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus.

Reading Pictures: Text and Image in Contemporary Art
Reading Pictures, which opens August 25, examines the intersection of text and image in contemporary art through more than fifty examples drawn from the Fine Arts Gallery’s collections. While some works are associated with the modern tradition of concrete poetry, many use text as a means to linguistically “illustrate” accompanying images, or vice versa. Still others employ text either alone or in conjunction with images to trigger associations, thoughts, and memories within the viewer. Featured artists, some in collaboration with writers or in response to existing text, include Robert Barry, Harmen Brethouwer, John Cage with Calvin Sumsion, Enrique Chagoya, Thomas A. Clark, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Richard Devereux, Lesley Dill with Emily Dickinson, Jim Dine with Frank O’Hara, Chris Drury, Ian Hamilton Finlay with Janet Boulton and Cornelia Wieg, Hamish Fulton, Douglas Gordon, Barbara Kruger, Les Levine, Sol Lewitt with Paul Celan, Thomas Locher, Richard Long, Jill Mathis, Deborah Muirhead, Michael Peel, Alyson Shotz, Jack Werner Stauffacher with Albert Camus, Antoni Tàpies, Kees Verbeek, Hans Waanders, and Lawrence Weiner.
Reading Pictures is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director, and student research assistant, Ellington Griffin (B.A., Vanderbilt 2011). The exhibition is on view in the gallery from August 25 through September 30 in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the Peabody campus, Gallery hours are Monday- Friday, 12-4 p.m.; Thursday, 12-8 p.m.; and weekends, 1-5 p.m. The gallery is closed during academic breaks. For more information, visit or call 615.343.1704.

The Book as Art: Beautiful Books
“”A beautiful book is a portable work of art — matchless and magical.” Prior to the advent of the printing press, bookmaking was a laborious process, requiring endless hours of the scribes’ precise handiwork and the artistic skills of the illuminator and the binder. Such books were valued for their form and artistry along with their function and role in a given culture or historical period, as evidenced by examples that remain today. These stunning volumes bear the marks of their makers unlike today’s mass-produced paperback.
Reading Pictures is presented in conjunction with The Book as Art: Beautiful Books, organized by the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries and on display from September 8, 2011, through August 12, 2012, in the Heard Libraries Gallery and Special Collections at 419 21st Avenue South. Satellite presentations for this exhibition, also opening on September 8, are The Book as Art: Sacred Texts in the Divinity Library; The Book as Art: Children’s Literature in the Peabody Library; and The Book as Art: Musical Notation in the Martha Rivers Ingram Center for Performing Arts.
Gathered from the Heard Library’s collection of more than 3.5 million volumes, The Book as Art offers an extraordinary display of fine books across nine centuries of bookmaking — from the illuminated manuscripts penned and illustrated by anonymous scribes to today’s internationally acclaimed artists’ books. Viewers will experience the richness of visual form in a thirteenth-century Latin manuscript on vellum illustrated with gold leaf and brilliant colors, tooled bindings encrusted with jewels, and covers inset with ivory miniatures, as well as contemporary artists’ books that surpass traditional book form. Drawn from internationally prominent presses, these unconventional volumes demonstrate the attention to text, image, paper, typography and binding that ultimately characterize what are described as “beautiful books.”

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