Announcing Ex Libris, November 6-30 in the Flatiron Project Space, with a reception November 27th from 6 to 8 pm

Posted by on Nov 2, 2018 in Exhibitions, General VCS Info | No Comments



Flatiron Project Space
133/141 W 21st Street
New York, NY 10011

November 6-30, 2018
Reception: November 27, 6-8 PM

BFA Visual & Critical Studies is pleased to announce the exhibition of three suites of Ex-libris bookplates by early 20th Century German Artists Adolf Kunst (1882-1937), Karl Ritter (1888-1958) and Carl Streller (1889-1967). The exhibition opens on Friday November 2nd, and runs through November 30th, 2018, with a celebratory reception on Tuesday November 27th from 6:00-8:00 PM.Professor Tom Huhn, chair of the Department of Visual and Critical Studies, Art History, and the Honors Program, has prepared the following statement for the exhibition:

“Ex-libris is a Latin phrase meaning “from the library of.”  The phrase was often placed at the top of a bookplate, a single printed sheet affixed to the inside cover of each book in someone’s personal library or collection, and thereby indicating the book’s ownership. Bookplates have been in use for more than 800 years. The exhibition on display here of some magnificent early 20th century bookplates reveals a key historical development of the ex-libris, as bookplates eventually came to be called. Alongside the ex-libris announcing the literal ownership of a book, the increasingly elaborate designs of the ex-libris also serve to take spiritual and psychological possession of the book. Note how some of the bookplates contain images of the intellectual swoon that often accompanies our reading of books. It’s as if the conjuring of an image of what will happen when we read is a defense—at the literal opening of the book and before it begins—by the reader, and owner, against the confounding, transforming power of the book. Bookplates are thus a kind of primitive magic—not unlike the magic of property itself—deployed against those sometimes infernally enlightening books that haunt our reveries.  Be careful that inscribing your name in a book doesn’t thereby allow it to take possession of you.”

All from a private collection, the prints on display – some humorous, others heavily loaded with symbolism, offer the contemporary viewer an opportunity to examine a genre of images once highly valued for both form and function. This is the second in a series of planned exhibitions by BFA Visual & Critical Studies on historically themed subject matter.

This exhibition has been organized by VCS Faculty member Peter Hristoff with the assistance of Joey Gonella  (VCS Class of 2020); suite selections curated by Tom Huhn. For further information, please contact

image credit: “Exlibris: Hans Weilberg”, initialed on plate “ADE” / artist unidentifiable

Visual & Critical Studies