The year 2009 marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Grolier Club, America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts. In December of 2008 the Club will present an exhibition showcasing the history of the Grolier’s groundbreaking series of exhibitions and publications. Curated by Grolier Club members George Ong and Eric Holzenberg, ‘For Jean Grolier & His Friends’: 125 Years of Grolier Club Exhibitions & Publications, 1884-2009 will include early, rare and beautiful examples of Grolier Club fine printing, along with proofs, correspondence, and original artwork by designers such as Theodore Lowe De Vinne, D. B. Updike, Bruce Rogers, Joseph Blumenthal, and many others. Posters and printed ephemera by these and other designers, along with early photographs, will document 125 years of exhibitions at the Grolier Club. The title of the show is derived from a Latin motto (“Ioannis Grolierii et Amicorum”) used by the Club’s namesake Jean Grolier, the great Renaissance collector renowned for sharing his library with friends.
Among the highlights of the show will be:
- Original art by Howard Pyle, George Boughton, Rudolph Ruzicka, Gaylord Schanilec and other American artists created to illustrate Grolier Club books
- Sketches, proofs and photographs documenting the development of Bruce Rogers’ design of the 1933 Grolier Club publication Fra Luca de Pacioli, a masterpiece of 20th century fine printing
- Photographs, posters, documents and memorabilia relating to a century and quarter of Grolier Club exhibitions, on such diverse topics as chess, chromolithography, murder mysteries, the reading habits of Georgia O’Keeffe, miniature books, publishers’ bindings, and literally hundreds of other subjects
The Grolier Club was the first organization in America to regularly exhibit books as objects of artistic and historical interest, on a par with paintings and sculpture. The Grolier’s exhibitions of prints and other works on paper were equally innovative, and played a key role in introducing American audiences to Japanese prints (1889), French lithographed posters (1890), and the works of American and European artists from Whistler (1904, 1907), to contemporary figures such Pierre Lecuire (1994) and Antonio Frasconi (1995).
Grolier Club catalogues and other publications have often furnished or reinforced these initial introductions. The Club’s monumental 1910 Etched Work of Whistler, which reproduced in collotype every state of every Whistler etching, remains unsurpassed both as a model of this kind of catalogue raisonné, and as a detailed resource on Whistler for the art historian and collector; and the list could be expanded with other names, from Dürer to Rembrandt to Doré to Nolde. At its foundation the Grolier Club was determined to produce books of a quality surpassing anything yet seen in the United States, on a par in design, typography, illustration and binding, with titles printed in London or Paris. Grolier Club books have thus long been recognized not only as a means by which American audiences could contemplate and explore the work of American and European printers, artists and authors, past and present, but also as examples of the very best in American book-making.
‘For Jean Grolier & His Friends’ is much more than a piece of Grolier Club history, it is a survey covering 125 years of American trends in the book arts, as well as the steady growth of interest by Americans in political, literary and art historical topics, as embodied either in Grolier Club publications, or Grolier Club exhibitions.
Published in early spring 2009 will be a monumental 500-page illustrated history and comprehensive checklist of over 1000 Grolier Club exhibitions and publications produced since 1884. The book will be available for purchase onsite at the Grolier Club, and through University Press of New England (UPNE), exclusive distributors of Grolier Club publications.
Location and times: ‘For Jean Grolier & His Friends’ will be on public view at the Grolier Club from December 10, 2008 – February 14, 2008, with the exception of December 24-26, 31, and January 1, when the Club is closed for the holidays. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 AM - 5 PM. Open to the public free of charge.
For more information e-mail Megan Smith at the Grolier Club.