Saturday, January 31, 2015

Odd Volumes - part 1

On Thursday, two friends and I ventured to Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven to see Odd Volumes, Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection. Someone had posted photos of the exhibit on Facebook and they were mesmerizing. Given the proximity, this was one exhibit that just couldn't be missed.

The act of reading books is an inherently sensory process. We read by sight, locating titles on covers, scanning sentences, allowing the words to form pictures in our minds. We flip through pages, leaving physical reminders of our progress. Dog-eared corners and cracked spines serve as evidence of our interaction with the content. Yet in an era dominated by digital technology, the role of the physical book is in flux. Words are no longer bound to the page but are weightless, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Thus when content does appear in book form this relationship is increasingly meaningful.

Book art addresses this tension, requiring that books be read not only as texts but also in terms of form, as aesthetic objects. Over the past several decades, Allan Chasanoff, B. A. 1961, has been acquiring artworks that reflect the book's changing place in society, assembling a vast collection that has recently been donated to the Yale University Art Gallery. Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Alan Chasanoff Collection features a selection of over one hundred works of art that use the book as the basis for experimental new objects. Some of these works are primarily sculptural, highlighting or manipulating the shape of the book. Others question the very concept of reading, employing the book to reflect on how we acquire knowledge in the digital age. Engaging a range of themes--including the history of the book and the relationship between viewer and work--the objects in the exhibition challenge the viewer to interact with books in ways they may never have imagined possible.*


The works exhibited are stunning, imaginative, skillfully created, thought provoking. I photographed many and will share them over the course of several posts. Of the works in display cases, I only managed to photograph two without too much intrusive glare from the lights.

I'm posting in chronological order of how I viewed them. Hopefully, I've got all the tag info paired correctly.

Enjoy the photos.


Mary Ziegler, The Necessity of Friction, full

Mary Ziegler, The Necessity of Friction, detail

Mary Ziegler 
American, born 1959

The Necessity of Friction, 1994

found copy of Lenard Gross's How Much is Too Much,
electric motor, steel, magnesium, and sandpaper 


Svea Seredin, Passing Down, full

Svea Seredin, Passing Down, detail

Svea Seredin, Passing Down, detail

Svea Seredin, Passing Down, shadows

Svea Seredin
American, born 1962

Passing Down, 1993

found and altered book pages with nylon, 
in a wooden frame


Michel Mangard, Livre découpé, full

Michel Mangard, Livre découpé, detail
Michel Mangard
French, born 1948

Livre découpé (Cut-Up Book), 1985

Found and cut book stapled to a wooden plaque


Georgia Boyd Russell, Nest, full

Georgia Boyd Russell, Nest, detail

Scottish, born 1974

Nest, 2008

found copy of The Royal English Dictionary with 
shredded and cut pages, and transparent wire


 Scott McCarney, New Age Encyclopedia Index, full

 Scott McCarney, New Age Encyclopedia Index, view from above

  Scott McCarney, New Age Encyclopedia Index, detail
American, born 1954

New Age Encyclopedia Index, 1989

found and cut copy of the New Age Encyclopedia


 Byron Clercx, Axiom, full

  Byron Clercx, Axiom, detail of handle

Byron Clercx
American, born 1960

Axiom, 1993

found newspaper and theory books on postmodern art criticism 
with glue and resin, and metal


 Byron D. Clercx, Big Stick #2, full view from end

  Byron D. Clercx, Big Stick #2, full view from end

Byron D. Clercx
American, born 1960

Big Stick #2 (21st Century Edition)
ca. 1993, repaired and reissued 2011

found pages from the complete writings of Sigmund Freud 
with glue and resin, in a custom leather case  


I'd like to request that if you happen to post any of my photos to another site (pinterest, tumblr), you take care to credit the artist and to give me photo credit as well. All photos were taken by me on January 29, 2015. Thank you! Stay tuned for more.

*on wall near beginning of exhibition


  1. Breathtaking ... thank you for letting us see the exhibit through your camera lens

    1. You're very welcome Liz! It's too good a collection of artist books to not share.

  2. What an exciting exhibition look forward to seeing more. Many thanks for sharing

  3. What extraordinary exhibits, love the nest one, thanks for sharing. I still can't quite get used to the idea of cutting up books.


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