Lucy Lippard and Artists' Books

The fall has been a whirlwind of activities related to the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition entitled Materializing "Six Years": Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art that opened here on September 14th and will continue into mid-February. The exhibition is devoted to examining the defining impact Lucy R. Lippard’s groundbreaking book Six Years had on the emergent conceptual art movement.

Published in 1973, Six Years simultaneously catalogued and described the development of conceptual art practices in the late sixties and early seventies, and is now widely considered an essential reference work for the period. Using the book’s content to structure the exhibition, Materializing “Six Years” showcases the artists brought together and championed by Lippard, and demonstrates how her curatorial projects, critical writing, and political engagement helped to redefine exhibition-making, art criticism, and the viewing experience. The exhibition includes over thirty items from the Brooklyn Museum Library with additional texts on loan from the MoMA Library as well as several private collections. There are also two Library display cases outside the Brooklyn Museum Library featuring related books and ephemeral collections.


library display cabinets

The Lippard exhibition has been reviewed in the New York Times as well as in several other publications.

The show has  inspired other activities on feminism and conceptual art such as the Feminism and the Artis's Book exhibition that just opened at Central Booking in Brooklyn.

Lucy Lippard spoke at the Brooklyn Museum the night of the opening and she was also one of the keynote speakers at the New York Artists Book Conference held at MoMA PS1. The conference, and the artists’ book fair, were incredibly successful events this year, evidence of growing interest in artists’ books and the future of the book in general.  You can find a review of the Fair and its related activities from here.

The conference, now in its fifth year, is the product of several people working together, including Milan Hughston, Jenny Tobias and David Senior from MoMA and Stephen Bury from the Frick, as well as several other colleagues. It is a fun collaboration and a welcome opportunity to examine aspects of the artists’ book. David Senior, Bibliographer at MoMA, continued to organize his Classroom series which totally enriches the Book Fair.

David’s energetic contributions also produced a successful publication in a series of artists’ books that help support free admission to the Artists Book Conference. Each year the Conference commissions a new artists’ book as part of its program. Previously commissioned artists include Dexter Sinister, David Horvitz, and Emily Roysdon, and last year’s Adventures, designed and printed by Aaron Flint Jamison. This year, Estonian artist Triin Tamm created Notes and Instructions On How to Use the Bookcatalogtest in collaboration with Rollo Press (Switzerland). All of these publications are available for sale at Printed Matter.

I came home with two shopping bags of citations for artists’ books that I would like to acquire for the Brooklyn Museum Library.  Also feel reinvigorated by public the level of interest in the art of the book!

Deirdre Lawrence, Principal Librarian, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives

Image (above): Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935). 100 Boots Facing the Sea, Del Mar, California. February 9, 1971, 2:00 p.m.(mailed: March 15, 1971, 1971–73. Photograph, 8 x 10 in (20.3 x 25.4 cm). © Eleanor Antin. (Photo: Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York/ Accessed from 
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Submitted by Deirdre Lawrence on November 3, 2012 - 2:14pm.

A sad addition to this post, Printed Matter sustained very serious damage due to Hurricane Sandy. They need our help. See their website:


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