Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter

October 8, 2009–January 4, 2010

Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter paints a picture of Printed Matter, the artists' bookstore, through a history of its publishing activity from 1976 to the present. On view in the Third Floor Archive Galleries.

The exhibition radically questions the notion of art as an elitist structure, and proposes an art conceived along democratic ideals, a low-cost art that travels out into the world through the distribution systems usually reserved for books and periodicals, or popular music. Featuring more than 100 international artists, Learn to Read Art explores the artists' desire to create with the idea that art is both intimate, and for everyone.

Printed Matter's emphasis has always been on books; however, artists have moved in many directions, experimenting with everything from periodicals and vinyl records to posters and postcards. The exhibition also includes more expectable editions, such as photographs-which, if we think about it, were originally intended to be low-cost reproducible media. And then there are somewhat less expectable formats, such as the skateboards by Liam Gillick, Ari Marcopoulos and Mark Gonzales.

More eccentric pieces include Scott Hug's enormous zine, which is spread out on one wall. Josh Smith's book of 473 numbered silkscreened leaves is housed in a pair of wooden book covers, themselves made from the table on which the silk-screening was done. Spread out on the walls in the exhibition, it becomes an almost delirious cacophony of repetition. 

 

Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter is organized by AA Bronson, Executive Director of Printed Matter, and produced in cooperation with the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany. Its New York presentation is part of P.S.1's new programmatic series Free Space.