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[BKARTS] Claire Van Vliet and the Janus Press: Celebrating Fifty Years at the Grolier Club, Feb. 22April 29, 2006, New York City
For immediate release December 2005
Contact: Megan Smith , e-mail: <smith@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Claire Van Vliet and the Janus Press: Celebrating Fifty Years at the
Feb. 22?April 29, 2006
Claire Van Vliet founded Janus Press in San Diego in 1955, and after
several moves has been based since 1966 in Newark, West Burke, in Vermont's
Northeast Kingdom. For more than fifty years Van Vliet has functioned as
artist, typographer, printer, binder, and publisher producing more than one
hundred books and broadsides, generally in collaboration with a wide
network of writers and other book arts practitioners. This survey of Janus
Press publications is the first comprehensive exhibition of the Press's
achievements to be seen in New York. It will present an overview of
publications selected from throughout its fifty-year history, organized in
six thematic sections to highlight Van Vliet's particular interests.
The first section, "Defining Directions," will suggest the extensive
imaginative range of Van Vliet's concerns as a book artist/publisher,
demonstrated by a selection from Janus' first 25 years. Included will be
her first publication, poet John Theobald's "An Oxford Odyssey," 1955,
illustrated by three of Van Vliet's own wood engravings. Her work as an
artist, in particular her interest in landscape imagery, will be
highlighted in several publications including two non-textual books: "Some
Trees and Bushes and Sun, Sky, and Earth." The first of these is a
compilation of woodcuts and offset lithographs; the second is composed
of dye-cut colored acetate and cinemoid gel pages meant to be layered by
the viewer to create an ever-changing landscape. Van Vliet's
predisposition to experiment with book structures and a range of materials
and processes is also evident in work by other artists in Janus Press
publications. Among these are designer/typographer James McWilliam's "N
Book," 1964, and "Polyurethane Antibook," 1965; photographer Ray K.
Metzker's electrostatic and color xerox prints included in Estelle
Leontief's "Razerol," 1973, and Margo Lockwood's "Bare Elegy," 1980; and
Jerome Kaplan's rubber eraser relief prints in Janet Nyholm's "From a
Housewife's Diary," 1978.
A major focus of Janus Press publications has been first edition poetry,
but Van Vliet has published a variety of prose pieces and plays as
well. The second section of the show "Franz Kafka" will feature a group of
texts by Kafka, published between 1962 and 1972. Among them are "Parables
and Paradoxes," 1963, and "Conversation with the Supplicant," 1971,
illustrated by lithographs Van Vliet made in Scandinavian print workshops.
Van Vliet's collaborations with Peter and Elka Schumann and the Bread and
Puppet Theater (founded in New York in 1962, but based in Vermont since
1974) will comprise the third section of the show, including "St. Francis
Preaches to the Birds," 1978, with masonite relief prints by Peter
Schumann, a book that was produced in two hand-printed versions as well as
a trade edition by Chronicle Press.
Among Van Vliet's most original works are those she created using colored
paper pulp starting with Aura in 1977. Working at the Twinrocker paper
mill in Brookston, Indiana, with Kathryn and Howard Clark, then with Katie
MacGregor and Bernie Vinzani in Whiting, Maine, and at a more modest
papermaking facility at Janus Press, Van Vliet has completed numerous books
and broadsides in which color pulps act either as substrates, or as a
component in her increasingly complex illustrations. A selection of these
will comprise the fourth section of the show, followed by a section titled
"Varied Collaborations" which will suggest the range of writers and artists
with whom Van Vliet has worked. Included here will be books she
co-published with Gefn Press, established in 1977 by Susan Johanknecht, one
of several interns Van Vliet has helped to train over the years. Van
Vliet's majestic illustrations for "King Lear," published in 1986
by Michael Alpert at the Theodore Press, Bangor, Maine, will be seen as well.
The finale of the exhibition, "Exploring Structures," will include books
from the last twenty years, during which Van Vliet has been preoccupied
with developing new binding methods as well as new ways of using paper to
form illustrations. Several have been inspired by quilts. New printing
techniques, such as laser printing, will be on view as well.
Broadsides, keepsakes, and ephemera will be included as appropriate
throughout the show.
Exhibition co-curators are Neal Turtell, Executive Librarian, National
Gallery of Art, and Ruth Fine, Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art,
National Gallery of Art. Loans will come from the National Gallery of Art
Library, a private collection, and Claire Van Vliet.
LOCATION AND TIMES: "Claire Van Vliet and the Janus Press: Celebrating
Fifty Years" will be on view at the Grolier Club from February 22?April
29, 2006. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM ? 5 PM. Open to the public free of
charge. An illustrated catalogue of recent Janus Press publications will be
available at the Club, and from The Veatchs Arts of the Book, PO Box 328,
Northampton, MA 01060; phone: (413) 584-1867; fax: (413) 584-2751; e-mail:
Forthcoming exhibitions at the Grolier Club
May 17 - July 29, 2006. Teaching America to Draw: Instructional Manuals &
Ephemera, 1794 to 1925..
Sept. 20 ? Nov. 25, 2006. Guild of Book-Workers Centenary Exhibition.
For more information see: <http://www.grolierclub.org/ExJanusPress.htm>
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