October 6 - 27, 2000, Garden Level, Science Library, University at Albany, SUNY

University at Albany


Johanna Drucker is internationally known as a book artist and experimental, visual poet. She received her Ph.D. in "Ecriture: The History and Theory of Writing as a Form of Visual Representation" from University of California Berkeley in 1986. Her recent publications deal with the written language, the history of the alphabet, modern American art, avant-garde poetry, artists' books, and other visual projects and include The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (University of Chicago Press, 1994), Theorizing Modernism (Columbia University Press, 1994), and The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination (Thames and Hudson, 1995). In addition to her scholarly work, Drucker has produced more than two dozen artists' books, many produced letterpress and using experimental typography.

Using descriptions from Johanna Drucker's "A Chronology of Books from 1970 to 1999," a selection of Drucker's books in "The Art of the Book" exhibit includes:

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Twenty-Six '76 Let Hers: Not A Matter of Permission.
Chased Press, 1976.

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(Edition of 30 copies), letterpress on etching paper, originally with accompanying abstract prints, (later abandoned–the sheets were torn down to eliminate the few finished prints), from fonts in a double case at the Print Center, thirty sheets, 8.5" x 11" in hand-sewn cotton covered carton with ivory ring and shoe lace closing.

The text to this work was derived from a trip to Los Angeles with Rebis to perform at the Vanguard Theater in Hollywood; the book was an alphabet book of private letters about a journey in the bicentennial year. Only who could tell? Different typefaces designate different registers of language. There is an annotated version of this in Xerox which gives the gloss on the pages, replacing the skeletal extracts into a contextualizing narrative.

The Word Made Flesh. Druckwerk, 1989.

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(Edition of 50 copies) letterpress from many handset types, wood and metal, tiny copperplate in the red field, on Mohawk superfine, with red Moriki endsheets and metallic Lindenmeyer-Munroe cover stock, twenty-three pages, 12.5" x 10.5", bound with rivets.

The counterpoint to Through Light and the Alphabet, this book attempts to halt linear reading to call attention to the physical, visual materiality of the page. The text is all about the visceral character of language, thus the referent is also material, non-transcendent, while the form uses format to render the text resistant. Printed in three runs–the black wooden letters, the black smaller text and the red. Another justification nightmare. A play on carmina figurata of the Renaissance. Reprinted by Granary Books in 1996.

The History of the/my Wor(l)d. Druckwerk, 1990.

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(Edition, 70 copies), letterpress in black and red from handset Caslon, illustrated with found line cuts, on Warren's lustro dull (which often causes the book to be mistaken for an offset book), with Bagasse cover and Fabriano endsheets, handsewn, forty pages, 10" x 13".

Printed in several runs, small and large black type separately, red type, and red and black images–about two hundred hours of printing time, I think. The main text undermines the meta-narrative of history through its own clichés while the red type erupts, interrupts, with a personal memory of learning language in an intimate, even erotic, relationship with my mother–this recounted as a critique of the feminist position that language is always patriarchal. The captions collapse family history with imagined history.Reprinted by Granary Books in 1995.

Prove Before Laying: Figuring the Word Druckwerk, 1997.

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(Edition 90 copies) 40 copies letterpress on Rives handbound in printed paper, cloth spine, 50 copies letterpress on Mohawk superfine, 28 pages spiral bound in boards and hors commerce, 9 1/4" x 10".

Two texts: one on writing as a mythic and cultural phenomenon, the other generated from a new foundry font and emerging page by page.

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