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Digital Resources

Image databases and online exhibition documentation related to Arts Library Special Collections


Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color Image Database

Faber Birren (1900-1988) was a leading authority on the effects of color on humans as well as a dedicated collector of texts on color. As a collector, Birren's particular focus was on color systems and nomenclature, as well as the more humanistic aspects of color theory. He began his collection in the early part of the 20th century and donated it to the Art+Architecture Library in 1971. He also left an endowment to ensure the continued growth of the collection which today numbers over 2,000 items. The Birren Collection is particularly strong in color systems, color standards, and color nomenclature. Color theory, artists' manuals and treatises, and color techniques are also well represented. In addition, the collection has materials on vision, psychology, printing and the graphic arts, textiles, music, religion, biology, medicine, heraldry, and the occult and ranges from the 16th century to the contemporary.

The image database facilitates online browsing by providing 1-3 representative images for works that contain images. The most recent acquisitions to the collection have not yet been added to the image database, so also search Orbis for specific queries.

Arts of the Book

Book Arts Ephemera Database

Ephemera files provide important information on activities and people that are currently exhibiting but not yet in the limelight. These files also document lesser known artists and exhibition spaces. ALSC holds many linear feet and growing of materials that have been collected since the early 1980's on various contemporary artists and presses. This database represents a sample of our ephemeral holdings for which we have received permission to post on the Internet.

Book Arts in Arts Library Special Collections

This guide provides several subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in ALSC.  Topics include: African American, Architecture, Drama, and the Holocaust.


Yale School of Drama Photographs, 1927-2001

Photographs of productions at the Yale School of Drama.  The majority of the photographs are in black and white.  Related materials are available in the Manuscripts and Archives Department, Sterling Memorial Library, in the collection Yale School of Drama Photographs and Posters.  

Exhibition Documentation Online

Material Meets Metaphor: A Half Century of Book Art by Richard Minsky

August 2 - December 21, 2010 | Curator Jae Jennifer Rossman, Yale Library, with assistance from Mia D'Avanza, 2009 Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship & Molly Dotson, 2010 Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship

Richard Minsky, pioneering contemporary book artist and founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City, is known for his conceptual approach to hand bookbinding and commitment to changing the perception of the book arts from craft to fine art. He combines a background in Economics with an innovative use of traditional methods and new materials to create sculptural, often political bookworks.  His blending of an eclectic mix of interests, from musical and theatre performance to social issues and virtual worlds, remain a hallmark of Minsky's career.  This exhibition showcases his editioned (non-commissioned, made in multiple copies) bookworks alongside selections from the Richard Minsky Archive, which documents the history of his career and his working process.

A PDF catalog of the exhibition is free to view and download at http://www.library.yale.edu/arts/specialcollections/Material_Meets_Metaphor-Minsky2.pdf

For more information on Richard Minsky's work, including his own commentary, visit his web site, www.minsky.com

Poison America: Sharon Gilbert Bookworks

Exhibition June 4 - September 27 , 2007 | Curator Courtney J. Martin, Ph.D., History of Art, '08

Born in 1944, Sharon Gilbert engaged with many of the most pressing social and cultural currents of her time. As a child of both the Cold War and the civic upheavals of the 1960s in America, she used the medium of artists’ books to tackle national anxieties ranging from nuclear waste to sexism to the American workday. Often executed with textual wit and visual puns, her production engaged a variety of aesthetic strategies, most notably, repetition and collage. Gilbert’s frequent use of the photo-copy machine was both innovative and effective, a demonstration of her interest in mechanization and her skill in moving between forms of graphic media. Poison America, a title taken from one her works, presents a selection of her books from the late 1970s to the present. Included with Gilbert’s artists’ books are other artists’ books that are in aesthetic, media, or contextual dialogue with hers. These include her contemporary Dona Ann McAdams, her colleague in the political art collective, Political Art Documentation & Distribution Archive (PAD/D), and other copy-art artists Mariona Barkus, Louise Neaderland, and John Wood. In addition to the bookworks on display, the exhibition features an essay by Martin.

The Belgian Illustrated Book: 1918-2004

Exhibition February 4 - April 29, 2005 | Curators Jae Jennifer Rossman, Yale Library & Jan Baetens, University of Leuven, Belgium

The international exhibition exploring the intersection of book arts and graphic art in Belgium is jointly sponsored by the Arts of the Book Collection, Yale University Library; the Departments of French and Comparative Literature; Le Commissariat Général des Relations Internationales (Belgium); and Les Archives et Musée de la Littérature (Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier). The exhibition explores the evolution and flourishing of illustrated books in the Flemish and French-speaking regions of Belgium and pays special attention to the astonishing development of the bande dessinée (comic strip or book) in Belgium during the twentieth-century. Situated between the major cultural centers Amsterdam and Paris and with a population divided into two major linguistic groups, Belgium has a strong tradition of book illustration, as well as the publication of illustrated books priced for popular sale. A tradition of images with or without words has emerged and contemporary artists, such as Olivier Deprez, continue the lineage, which boasts artists such as Frans Maseerel, Henri Michaux, and Marcel Broodthaers. An important part of this tradition, the bande dessinée, establishes its first great claim with the Tintin series by Hergé and continues via many other artists such as Jijé and Franquin, appealing to a wide adult as well as a younger audience. View the exhibit narrative and checklist online.

By Chance: Serendipity and Randomness in Contemporary Artists' Books

Exhibition August 12 - November 6, 2002 | Curators Robin Price, Printer & Publisher, Middletown, CT & Jae Jennifer Rossman, Yale Library

Chance is often a factor in the creation of artwork. Making books and other art works by hand allows serendipity and randomness to become part of the process. Over the years many artists have purposefully incorporated chance operations into their creative method. This exhibit shows examples of works that use chance in different ways: blind collaboration (working separately on the same project, without knowing what the other is doing), chance in the concept or content of the book, found materials as instigators for creation, randomness determined by reader interaction with the work, careful documentation of a chance moment in time, chance developments from purposeful spontaneity, and calculated chance operations. Using both historical and modern examples, the show illustrates different approaches by artists who have embraced unpredictability.
See the checklist.

Poetics, Politics, and Song: Contemporary Latin American/Latino(a) Artists' Books

Exhibition September 14 - November 27, 2000 | Curator D. Vanessa Kam, 2000 Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship

This exhibition documented the work of seventeen Latin American and Latino(a) book artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The display featured over 20 works drawn entirely from collections at Yale University. The earliest works, dating from the early 1970s, illustrate the evolution of Brazilian Concrete poetry; the most recent works date from the late 1990s. Although most of the works were produced by artists living and working in Latin America and the Caribbean, the exhibition also features objects created by artists who currently live in the U.S., or who undertook artists' residencies in the U.S. or Europe. See the online exhibition.