Art of the Page: Printed Matter, Inc

Discover your own creativity by diving into the work of others.

There are times when I can physically feel my creativity flagging. Bogged down by technology, my memory unable to conjure the last time I touched brush to canvas, pen to paper, thread to needle. The void of inspiration a tangible thing, like a missing limb, or at least a rogue button in a less dramatic sense. Something lost hopefully found again but who knows, really. When these times surface, all too often if you ask me, the window must be shut, screens darkened, Niagara of extraneous information slowed to a trickle. Real world, rediscovered. At these times the palpable must be sought…the puckered edge of an oft-turned page, a favorite piece of art…both. It was during one of these droughts when I rediscovered an old favorite, a place that, long ago — in the early 2000’s! — was a refuge for me and those like me, students of art whose job it was to constantly be creating, thinking, doing. Drawing ’til our fingers bled, painting through the wee hours of the night. Once staying up for 48 hours to finish turning a book into a tea set. Of course, this place never went away, nor did those who frequent its shelves upon shelves of handmade art books, I simply stopped visiting. Until last week, when at long last I stepped over the threshold of Printed Matter, Inc. An old friend in a new space.

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Scattered (neatly) across shelves, tables, walls and stairs, recorded on records and tapes, upwards of 15,000 artists’ books (and sounds) created by upwards of 6,000 artists await perusal. Some bound as you might expect, with sturdy spines and pages waiting to be dog-eared, some less so. Pieces of printed paper sandwiched between the unconventional, printed with photos bright and bleak, pages proclaiming an artist’s perspective of the world, each one a tangential piece in its own right. Printed Matter, Inc. is a mecca, one of the largest public sources for artists’ books in the world, one of the few sources for artist-made publications both small and large. And a place in which to rediscover your own need to create in the third dimension.

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More than simply a book in which an artist’s work is shown, an art book is a work within itself. Art on — and of — the page, made accessible and digestible to the masses, an attainable and low cost alternative of dissemination for the artists themselves. Those craving something beyond what’s shown on museum walls, who might not normally step through the doors of a formal gallery, are welcome here. Welcome between the pages, welcome to sit, ponder, discover.

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+ Visit Printed Matter at their new location: 231 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10001

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  1. I love this! Yes, technology is a great asset but once in a while it doesn’t hurt to rediscover books and printed pages. i remember visually all the coloured books from my childhood, they were my first view on the world! I saw that we had a beautiful and colourful place, and we must enjoy it not just through our screen, but trhough the reality of colour and shapes.

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