Printed Matter

- An iconic artists’ book organisation

In December, I went on a bookshop tour to New York City to learn more about indie publishing and the people behind this. The iconic artists’ book organisation Printed Matter was on the top of my list of places to visit, due to their noteworthy dedication and passion for artists’ book production since the 1970s.


When visiting their bookshop, on 195 Tenth Avenue, I was invited to the opening reception of their exhibition: Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter, which was a unique opportunity to learn more about Printed Matter and indie publishing in general, and to meet the passionate people behind the organisation.

The exhibition

Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter is a chronicling narrative of the thirty-nine year history of Printed Matter and artists’ book production from the 1970s till today.


When you walk through the beautiful and very minimalistic curated gallery space, which is created by Printed Matter Acting Director Max Schumann and 80WSE Gallery Director Jonathan Berger, in association with students and faculty from the NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art professions, you will be presented with a transparent timeline of Printed Matter´s recovered archive. Administrative documents, programming ephemera and publishing projects portray the challenges Printed Matter has dealt with as a committed organisation that wants to meet the ever-changing need for alternative art economies, modes of production, presentation and distribution.


The carefully selected and historical material is framed and displayed by a satellite location of their bookshop and a fully equipped print shop, housed inside the gallery. It is the site for artist publishing residencies by artist Mary Ellen Carroll, Jesse Hlebo/Swill Children, Juliana Huxtable, Red76, Research and Destroy New York City, and Josh Smith & Friends.

printed-matter-03Printed Matter Inc. was established in 1976 based on a need for an organisation that could provide centralized support for the growing phenomenon of artists’ book production. The creators behind the organisation were: Carl Andre, Edit DeAk, Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Walter Robinson, Pat Steir, Mimi Wheeler, Robin White and Irena von Zahn.


Throughout the 1970s publishing was utilized by a wider range of artists working all around the world, and artists’ books found a small, committed audience, and Printed Matter grew its identity and activities alongside the evolution of the field. Today, the work of Printed Matter includes distribution, exhibitions, publishing, education, an online bibliographic archive, the production of artists’ book fairs and numerous other public programs.


If you are into indie publishing and passionate work I will highly recommend you to visit the exhibition at the 80WSE Gallery.


For more information about the exhibition and
Printed Matter, please visit:

80WSE Gallery – NYU Steinhardt
80 Washington Square East
New York, NY 10003

December 2, 2014 – February 14, 2015
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 – 6:00 pm


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