Megan N. Liberty
Megan N. Liberty is the Art Books Editor at the Brooklyn Rail. Her interests include text and image, artists’ books and ephemera, and archive curatorial practices.
Tammy Nguyen with Megan N. Liberty
Nguyen transforms her research into glittering lacquered paper paintings, collages, and artists books.
MARK BLOCH with Megan N. Liberty
For over four decades, artist and writer Mark Bloch has been fastidiously building his archive of mail art, a practice he began in the late 70s under the banner of the Postal Art Networkgiving him his artistic pseudonym PAN.
CHITRA GANESH with Megan N. Liberty
Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh speaks with Megan N. Liberty about rethinking public space and public monuments, the way comics are uniquely equipped to represent this time of rupture and isolation, modernist narrative strategies, and reimagining archives.
LESLIE HEWITT with Megan N. Liberty
Leslie Hewitt speaks with Rail Art Books editor, Megan N. Liberty on the occasion of the opening of her project space at Perrotin, NY, Anatomy of a Flower and Other Studio Experiments.
Sara Erenthal’s Art of the Street and ScreenBy Megan N. Liberty
Artist Sara Erenthals canvases are discarded objects: flat-screen TVs, couches, refrigerators, and wooden panels and doors. Her characteristic iconography is a hand-painted, black-outlined woman with big hair, almond-shaped eyes, and small red lips accompanied by lines like ILL BE AS LOUD AS I NEED TO BE, GOOD NEWS IS COMING STAY TUNED, and I WONT MAKE MYSELF VULNERABLE TODAY (the last notably written on a discarded mattress).
Just Above Midtown: Changing SpacesBy Megan N. Liberty
As the trend in institutions turns towards greater support of BIPOC artists, Changing Spaces is just one historical exhibition offering substantial attention to their work.
Wangechi Mutu: IntertwinedBy Megan N. Liberty
Spanning all four floors (in addition to one sculpture in the sky room), Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined brings together nearly three decades of the multimedia artists work, from intricate collages and large-scale sculptures, to videos and small assemblages.
SpineBy Megan N. Liberty
The human spine supports our bodies; it is both sturdy and flexible, bending, moving, shifting, and curving us. But spines are also fragile—something slips out of place and suddenly our bodies crumple. Books, too, have spines, structures that hold together the fibers of its pages, sometimes stiff and solid, sometimes flexible and soft.
Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)By Megan N. Liberty
John Cage’s musical compositions are known for requiring a high level of interpretation on the part of the musician: they are more of a collaboration with the composer than a direct translation of written notes into auditory musical form.
International PopBy Megan N. Liberty
The British art critic Lawrence Alloway, one of the earliest theorists of Pop Art, wrote that the “term [Pop Art] refers to the use of popular art sources by fine artists: movie stills, science fiction, advertisements, games boards, heroes of the mass media.”
Jon-Michael Frank and Bianca StoneBy Megan N. Liberty
Some artists, such as Bianca Stone and Jon-Michael Frank, are responding to the new order of things through the genre of poetry comics, which combine illustrations with brief lines of text.
Reading as Art & Publishing as Artistic PracticeBy Megan N. Liberty
Can reading be a form of making? And if reading is making, what, then, of publishing? Two recent publications take these questions as their starting points.
Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ BooksBy Megan N. Liberty
How do we enter a book? How do we move around in it and travel between its pages, chapters, and various corners and openings? These are some of the questions Tate Shaw asks in his collection, Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books.
Sarah Tulloch's ObjectImageBy Megan N. Liberty
While British artist Sarah Tulloch was completing her undergraduate degree in fine art, she inherited a collection of photographs from her grandfather, an amateur photographer whom she hadn’t known very well because he lived in Australia and she in the United Kingdom.
Stanley Whitney: SketchbookBy Megan N. Liberty
Known as an abstract painter for his bold use of gridded color swatches, Stanley Whitney crowds his drawings with an abundance of line, as seen in his September-October exhibition of drawings at Lisson Gallery in Chelsea.
Mirtha Dermisache's Selected Writings and Renee Gladman's Prose ArchitecturesBy Megan N. Liberty
Imagine if writing was a purely visual endeavor without linguistic or syntactical meaning. Could we read the curves and slants, thickness, and size of the lines like we would alphabetical or pictorial characters? The writings and drawings of Mirtha Dermisache and Renee Gladman beg these questions.
An Atlas of Rare & Familiar ColourBy Megan N. Liberty
In the 1920s, Professor Edward Forbes, Harvard art historian and then-director of its Fogg Art Museum, wanted to give his students the opportunity to learn from European masterworks. But in order to be sure he was acquiring the real paintings, he had to develop a better sense of the authenticity of painting materials. To accomplish this, he built what is now one of the largest and most expansive collections of color samples, including over 2,500 of the rarest pigments in the world.
SONEL BRESLAV with Megan N. Liberty
I first met Sonel Breslav, Printed Matter’s new Director of Fairs and Editions, through the BABZ Fair (formerly known as the Bushwick Art Book & Zine Fair) organized by Blonde Art Books, which she began in 2012 as a vehicle for self-published and small press art and poetry books. On the occasion of Printed Matter’s thirteenth Annual NY Art Book Fair (NYABF), I talked with Sonel about the rising interest in art books and fairs, the challenges of exhibiting books, and how to balance programming, display, and commerce at the fair.
Richard McGuire’s Art For The Street 1978 – 1982By Megan N. Liberty
The diversity of Richard McGuires work is surprising; from his illustrations for The New Yorker and McSweeneys and published graphic novels Here (2014) and Sequential Drawings (2016) that treat the book as a sculptural objectsomething Ive argued in a previous review of Hereto his musical and performance career as a founding member of the post-punk band Liquid Liquid.
Michalis Pichler's Publishing ManifestosBy Megan N. Liberty
Michalis Pichler's edited anthology, Publishing Manifestos, intended to celebrate and archive ten years of the Berlin-based art book fair Miss Read, asks two central questions: what is the function of art fair catalogues and what can they be?
Leslie HewittBy Megan N. Liberty
Leslie Hewitts photography blurs the lines between photo and sculpture, exploring the intersection of history, memory, and archive.
Guestbook: Ghost StoriesBy Megan N. Liberty
These stories fall into the category of more traditional ghost stories, where a poltergeist haunts a place it once livedor diedin. But what rings most true and fits within the context of Shaptons larger work (Important Artifacts particularly) are the ghosts not of people but of things.
Meghann Riepenhoff's Littoral Drift and EcotoneBy Megan N. Liberty
In much the same way her wall works create a relationship between humans and nature, her two-part publication, Littoral Drift + Ecotone, pushes the form of the book towards water, highlighting the surprising formal qualities these two mediums share.
Art Books Dispatches from the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair
My conversation with Devers underscored the importance of collecting as a means of rectifying history. It seems like a nostalgic pursuit, but the more energy in the market around certain books, the more likely it gets onto syllabus and back into print.
Shattered Objects: Djuna Barnes's ModernismBy Megan N. Liberty
Djuna Barnes (18921982) remains one of the most important lesser known modernist figures. A true Renaissance woman, Barnes was a literary pioneer of modernism, writing queer novels like Nightwood (1936) and Ladies Almanack (1928), in addition to plays, poems, and her work as a New York-based journalist.
Nights on Prose MountainBy Megan N. Liberty
A new collection that captures the enigmatic prose of poet and interdisciplinary figure bpNichol. The collection appears not like a traditional collected stories, but rather a book grouped thematically by time and subject matter more so than genre or form.
Steven Leiber CatalogsBy Megan N. Liberty
The art of the 1960s and 1970s is characterized by its tendency to disintegrateto take forms other than physical ones. As Lucy Lippard writes in the opening to her book Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, Conceptual art, for me, means work in which the idea is paramount and the material form is secondary, lightweight, ephemeral, cheap, unpretentious and/or dematerialized.
Kenyatta A.C. Hinkles SIRBy Megan N. Liberty
Equal parts artist book, poetry collection, and memoir, SIR explores Hinkles mothers decision to name her first son Sir, the aspirational power of names and what they carry for their bearers, and the inescapable nature of history.
David Wojnarowicz's In the Shadow of Forward MotionBy Megan N. Liberty
This facsimile of the original 1989 zine that originally accompanied a show at P.P.O.W gallery, reveals the artists vulnerable and deeply symbolic writing style alongside his visual work. His writing shifts from urgent whispers to angry pleas, revealing an artist willing to bare his inconsistencies publicly.
Dayanita Singh's Zakir Hussain MaquetteBy Megan N. Liberty
A facsimile of Singhs original maquette showcases her cut-and-paste working method, revealing the centrality of craft and sequence and offering insight into the bookmakers meticulous choices.
Mayumi Hosokura’s New SkinBy Megan N. Liberty
At a time when touch is limited, a new photobook showing an abstracted collage of bodiesdisembodied arms, clutching hands, bottoms of feet, clumps of hair, edges of chests and nipplesreminds us of the alluring sensuality of contact.
Renee Gladman’s One Long Black SentenceBy Megan N. Liberty
The white lined drawings glow against the full-bleed black pages, encased in a black hardcover with embroidered white lines that are physically raised off the surface. These cityscapes, celestial scenes, and cartographic paragraph drawings conjure a vision of a different world, reconsidering the form of a sentence.
Martine Symss Shame SpaceBy Megan N. Liberty
Martine Syms makes her material digital influx, trafficking in the visual and textual overload of contemporary communication. While her videos reflect the pace and flux of digital life, her publications offer a moment to slow down and move at ones own pace.
Derek Sullivan’s Evidence of the Avant Garde Ex-LibraryBy Megan N. Liberty
Interested in ephemera, networks of distribution, and how materials are activated through circulation and use, Sullivans latest book translates an exhibition catalogue documenting ephemera (audio tapes, manuscripts, buttons, and books) from a 1984 show at Art Metropole into an artist book. This rendering shows that history and the archive are always ongoing, constantly being revised, added to, amended, redrawn, and redistributed.
Allen Frame’s FeverBy Megan N. Liberty
The guise of the archive is the best under which to first approach Frames body of work, especially his color photography from 1981. The photographs are snapshots in a wayquick and unframedand yet, the small details and omissions reveal as much as they conceal, evidencing a close looking, documenting, and refocusing.
Editor’s NoteBy Megan N. Liberty
Poetry makes language visual, emphasizing its ekphrastic potential to conjure images out of words. Sometimes the words themselves form images, as in concrete poetry, in which the mise-en-scene of the words on the page is essential to their meaning. Other times, the enjambment acts only to create a break in action, a pause. Other times still, the words spill out like long endless paragraphs, as in prose poetry. In all these cases, what ties these words together is a certain indefinable focus on the visual potential of language.
Jessica Vaughn’s Depreciating AssetsBy Megan N. Liberty
Her first artist book examines the human toll of corporate design aesthetics.
A Joe Brainard Show in a BookBy Megan N. Liberty
This collection of zines and book jacket designs celebrates Brainards generosity, but also his skill as a designer, highlighting the material aspects of the artists hand, his graphic design sensibility, and use of the space of the page.
Robin Richardsons Try Not to Get Too AttachedBy Megan N. Liberty
Including paragraphs of prose poetry and drawings with hand drawn lines of text, Richardsons visual-verbal poetry collection speaks to the condition of being a woman today.
The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins ReaderBy Megan N. Liberty
Including a full facsimile reproduction of Madeline Ginss out-of-print 1969 novel WORD RAIN, as well as previously unpublished essays and poems, this collection illustrates Ginss ability to capture the embodied experience of reading and celebrates her mastery as an experimental writer.
Jonathan Lyndon Chase’s wild wild Wild West / Haunting of the SeahorseBy Megan N. Liberty
While these two attached books tell very different stories, the first about the death of the artists grandmother and the other a science fiction tale of a family living on a space station, both grapple with grief, love, and the haunting nature of bodies.
Women in Concrete Poetry 1959–1979By Megan N. Liberty
This addendum to the history of concrete poetry makes evident the connections between concrete poetry and artist books. Chance visual connections between the diverse works included make visible the materiality of language, the unifying component of concrete poetry.
Ulises Carrión's Sonnet(s)By Megan N. Liberty
First published in 1972 as a typewritten staple-bound mimeograph book of 44 typographic versions of a Dante Gabriel Rossetti sonnet, the republication of this bookwork as a trade paperback with scholarly essays gives it a new afterlife. In it, the words themselves and their meaning become secondary to the typography itself.
Nozomi Yamashitas Photo ZinesBy Megan N. Liberty
Using collaged inkjet printed images, tracing paper, and embroidered beaded felt, the artist creates an object that reads as both amateurish and skillfully craftedqualities often set at odds. Yamashita elevates these private practices to the public practice of publishing, making space for the concerns and desires of girls and young women.
Sol LeWitt: Not to Be Sold for More Than $100 and Sol LeWitt: Folds & RipsBy Megan N. Liberty
Two new books document the artists lesser-known practice of making ripped and folded drawings, making the case that they deserve the attention and scholarship of two books, and many more.
Paolo Javier’s O.B.B. a.k.a. The Original Brown BoyBy Megan N. Liberty
A poetry comic that requires (and rewards) constant re-reading, like learning a new language. A chaotic mix of black-and-white photocopy-style images and texts that is an ode to the anti-storytelling potential of poetry.
Troy Montes-Michie’s Rock of EyeBy Megan N. Liberty
These collages use the multiple interpretations and histories of the stitch to explore masculinity, sexuality, and marginal identities. In a moment when conversations around the policing of Black bodies in public space continue to grow and gain momentum, Montes-Michies quiet scenes of interiority dramatically change the context.
Barbara T. Smiths The Way to BeBy Megan N. Liberty
In lieu of an exhibition catalog, Smiths memoir serves as the show's accompanying publication, foregrounding the personal nature of her practice, which places her own body and lived experience as material, even at times to her own detriment.
Penny Slinger's 50% the Visible Woman and Inside OutBy Megan N. Liberty
Penny Slinger was studying at Chelsea College of Art when she discovered Max Ernst's collage books. Ernst's printmaking and collage remains a landmark in artistic and literary publishing. While Slinger was inspired by his techniques of visual narrative and exciting juxtapositions, she was also struck by his poor representations of women, shared by most of the male-dominated Surrealist milieu.
Printed MatterBy Megan N. Liberty
Printed Matter has something of a legendary origin story, equal parts oral history, hearsay, and gossip, passed down through the decades in letters, postcards, photographs, and artist accounts. The exact series of events remains a bit murkynearly all the early participants claim status as an originator.
Center for Book ArtsBy Megan N. Liberty
Wandering around the flower district of Manhattan, you may be surprised to see a green flag hanging high above the flowers, signaling the location of the Center for Book Arts (CBA) on the third floor, where it has been located since 1999. As artist and designer Ben Denzer recently wrote to me, Despite coming and going to CBA all the time, I can never really get over how much of an unexpected gem it is. The fact that this book utopia is hiding on the third floor of a random building on 27th street has always made me look at all NYC buildings as if each might contain delightful secrets inside.