Young Masters and Misses, Telfer Stokes (1984)
Artist’s book re-bound in red linen buckram.
There are a couple things working here, but in essence, the book (originally a perfect bound soft cover) has been re-bound in the traditional library school technique for rehousing books for public circulation. I'm interested in the time period in the 1960s to 80s when a large number of artists' books were accessioned into public library collections and processed for circulation by librarians unfamiliar with the artform. Great examples of this include Ed Ruscha's Every Building on the Sunset Strip being re-bound and catalogued/shelved in the real estate section. Many of these re-bound books have been lost to time/stolen by library patrons. Now, the problem is a little different—artists' book librarians want to put new artists' books into circulation, but have run into institutional blockades that aim to prevent asset loss.
Additionally, I'm curious about this book in particular. It was published by MoMA, not through WeProductions (a press whose work I love), and I can't help but think about the separation of Telfer's practice from his then-collaborator, and partner in WeProductions, Helen Douglas. Could the story have something to do with their relationship? Who knows, but it feels like a bit of historical book gossip to me—my version of People magazine.
Corina Reynolds (she/her) is an artist and administrator based in New York. She focuses on connecting artists across distance and time through art, publishing, and a diverse program of exhibitions, panels, conferences, and classes at Center for Book Arts. She has an MFA in textiles from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and in 2012, she co-founded Small Editions, an artists’ book studio and curatorial residency program in Brooklyn, NY, with the goal to expand the public understanding of artists’ books.