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In the Library: Photography and the Book Arts from the 21st Editions Collection

Upcoming Exhibition

May 6 – August 29, 2024
East Building, Ground Level - Library

Weekdays, 11:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Publishing the work of photographers who represent a range of disciplines, 21st Editions brings together a team of book and print artists to create handcrafted book objects that combine real photographic prints with finely printed texts and artisan bindings that highlight trends in contemporary photography. The National Gallery of Art and University of Minnesota Libraries have partnered to produce concurrent exhibitions featuring these works. The National Gallery of Art Library’s installation highlights twelve examples from the diverse range of more than sixty handmade artists’ books published over the past twenty-five years under the direction of Steven Albahari, and since 2005, production manager Pam Clark. 

Inspired by Alfred Stieglitz and William Morris, each work is a unique expression of the group of eight to twelve artists and artisans involved in the project, which typically requires two to four years to realize. The work of photographers including Sally Mann, Josephine Sacabo, Masao Yamamoto, Adger Cowans, and Arthur Tress are given exquisite form by master printers such as John Marcy, Martin Axon, and Stan Klimek, and then paired with texts as diverse as William Shakespeare’s sonnets, the color theories of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and contemporary poetry by Keagan LeJeune. Through the editorial skills of John Wood, John Stauffer, and Collier Brown and the artistry of bookmakers such as binders Sarah Creighton, Mark Tomlinson, Amy Borezo, Erin Fletcher, Daniel Kelm, Kylin Lee, Lisa van Pelt, and Peter Geraty, typographer Chrissy Welzen, and printers Michael Russem, Michael and Winifred Bixler, and Arthur Larson, these works are transformed into exquisite book objects. From sculptural housings, to finely textured papers, luminous platinum prints, to the monumental scale of the volumes, each book takes us to a new world, providing a structure and framing for the union of text and image, intertwining and illuminating one another through designs referencing themes of the underlying work. 

The National Gallery of Art Library Special Collections and the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Gorman Rare Art Books and Media Collection each preserve a complete set of 21st Editions works. The latter also houses the publisher’s archive which includes correspondence between the collaborative partners for each project and documentation of the processes of ideation, iteration, and fabrication involved in their production.

Selected Works


Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Admission is always free and passes are not required

Banner detail: Sally Mann (photographer), John Stauffer (author), John Wood (editor and contributor), John Marcy (printmaker), Pam Clark (production manager), Crissy Welzen (typographer), Arthur Larson (printer), Travis Becker (papermaker), Amy Borezo (binder), Steven Albahari (publisher), Southern Landscape (detail), South Dennis, MA: 21st Editions, 2014, Gift of the Thompson Family Foundation