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This symposium is inspired by the memory of Tony Zwicker.
Tony Zwicker was an important dealer in contemporary artist's books from 1982 until her death in 2000. She lived in New York and New Haven, and had many connections with Yale. She worked with many curators at the Arts of the Book Collection, the Art+Architecture Library, the Beinecke Library, and the Center for British Art to place book objects in Yales collections. Additionally, she was married to former Curator of the African Collection, Moore Crossey.
Very few dealers focus exclusively on contemporary artist's books, including unique book objects. In fact, Ms. Zwicker was considered by many to have been "a pioneer in the field," as described by Cathy Courtney in the two-page obituary she wrote for Art Monthly (July/August 2000). Being situated in New York made it easy for curators and librarians from all around the U.S., Canada, and Europe to view work in her apartment/office. Artists from around the world who might be passing through New York were also regular visitors, creating a salon-style environment. Ms. Zwicker traveled to Europe on a frequent basis for her work, thus managing to connect American collections and collectors with contemporary European artist's books, and she also spread the works of Europeans and east coast Americans to collections in California and Canada. As written in Art Monthly, "her visits to Europe have caused collections such as that at the National Art Library in the V&A to have such a strong representation of American book artists." She is also famous for "converting" the resistant, such as Decherd Turner, former Director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, who claimed to be a "militant conservative in matters of book design" before being enlightened by Tony Zwicker to see "possibilities in the visual messages of books I had never dreamed of" (Umbrella, April 2000). Unlike other dealers, she didn't put out catalogs, but showed large numbers of works to clients directly, choosing what she would pull out for each person as she worked with them to gauge their taste or collection parameters over time. For Ms. Zwicker, first hand experience with the object was crucial to understanding it and making selections for inclusion in collections.
Her extensive web of clients, artists, and curators allowed her to gather enormous amounts of information regarding the happenings in the field. She was very direct and critical regarding each new work presented to her, questioning the purpose of the format and how it functioned as a whole. She was also very generous with artists, sharing opportunities with them, helping artists to network and teaching them how develop their work and their careers. Ms. Zwicker was also active as a curator and consulted on critical texts and for exhibitions. Ms. Zwicker was well respected for her sharp and discerning intellect, and thus a symposium that adds to the critical literature regarding artist's books is a fitting memorial. With this day of scholarship we hope to encourage people involved in the book arts to be informed about the rich history and resources of the field.
Angela Lorenz and Jae Jennifer Rossman