Oak Knoll are my crack dealers. They brought Jan van der Marck’s The Art of Contemporary Bookbinding to the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair for me and, of course, I bought it. This is not your average vanity exhibition catalog. Jan van der Marck (1929-2010) was an art historian, both a university professor and probably the most frequently fired museum curator in modern history.
What really sets this exhibit catalog apart from most in my collection is not just the breadth of van der Marck’s taste, which is significant, but his introduction, his essay on each binder, and his brief commentary on each binding. As an art historian, his point of reference is significantly different from that of a librarian, a binder, or a collector who is not an art historian (most of us).
Donald Glaister was one of van der Marck favorite binders. He selected eight examples from his collection for this exhibition. Below are images of all eight, complete with van der Marck’s commentary. Continue reading “Donald Glaister Eye Candy”→
The San Francisco Bay Area is a hotbed of book arts with a long-standing tradition of French-style binding. Historically, binding in the Northeast US owes more to the English and Germans. I’m not going to discuss dates, patterns of immigration and migration, or happenstance. The research has been done and written about by actual binder-scholars. I refer you to the index to the journal of the Guild of Bookworkers. These days, in San Francisco, you can get excellent training in both French and English binding methods from the many binders who reside and teach in the area.
The point is that in San Francisco there is an especially appreciative audience for exquisitely crafted fine art bindings such as the ones I brought to CODEX.
One of the problems with being a native New Yorker is that I take amazing cultural resources for granted. Not only do I live in a city with great collections of fine bindings, but I also have the bookstore of legend: The Strand. I am embarrassed to admit that I’d never been there before.
With my new obsession, The Strand is the obvious place to go. I recently lost track of time (quite a lot of time) in their Books on Books section. It’s only one aisle in their miles and miles of stacks, but it is a delicious treasure trove of book geek goodness. The number of fantastic books they manage to pack into that small space is just short of miraculous. Off I went with a list of books I saw on their website.
This is the wrong approach. At The Strand, serendipity is your best friend.
The stacks are a goldmine. I am in love. I creep on the floor; I climb higher than prudent. I discard my list. My pile of books is large. Way too large. I forget that I am not building a library of Books on Books. I refocus and reshelve (you’re welcome). I depart with two treasures, both of which turn out to be even better than I imagined. I spent $15.
The Guild of Book Workers was founded in 1906, so the exhibit was in 1981. I read this baby cover to cover. It’s a trove of information and images. The first half of the exhibit is a retrospective of the best work of Guild members prior to 1975. The number of women binders represented blows my mind. I’ve never heard of most of these binders.
The second half is contemporary work, by Guild members, executed after 1975 and never before shown in a major exhibition. There are 124 entries, not all of them are bindings. Some of the bindings are truly gorgeous. Some should have never seen the light of day. I’m beginning to realize that is par for most competitions.
I’m particularly charmed by a binding by Polly Lada-Mocarski (more on her later) and an early Donald Glaister (more on him later).