September 19, 6:30pm
Monday through Saturday, 1:00–5:00 PM
An introduction to the catalog
by Thorsten Dennerline
The Usdan Gallery at Bennington College is pleased to be hosting this exhibition of Gunnar Kaldewey’s books and prints. Gunnar’s summer home, studio, and presses are located just 45 minutes from campus, and this proximity inspired the idea to have him share his work with the Bennington community. Personally, I have been aware of Gunnar’s work for many years and I am very happy to now see it on display in our gallery.
Gunnar Kaldewey has been making artist’s books for more than 25 years. He has, impressively, produced over 75 editions in this time. This artistic medium is interdisciplinary and wide-ranging; it ultimately draws on ideas inherent in “the book” as a means to make art. Artist’s books are influenced by the history of the book as a tactile and iconic object, and by the history of human communication itself. Artists have long experimented with the many aspects of the book, and I find that these myriad approaches reflect the interdisciplinary nature of programs at the college. As students are encouraged to work across disciplines not only in their study of art but also across the college curriculum, many have been led to incorporate text into their visual work, and to create books. These types of works are often strong representations of the rich depth of inquiry students are engaged in during their time at Bennington.
In Gunnar’s books, the text is of primary importance, and usually serves as the starting point for his projects. As part of his practice, he reads every day, and this habit is quite evident in the work. His body of work has incorporated the texts of numerous writers and collaborators, each of which contributes to the uniqueness of his projects. Gunnar’s strong sense of the tactile object has led him to use print methods that emphasize this. He uses fine papers, and most often letterpress printing, which creates a visible impression in the paper.
Another major element of his work/practice is publishing. The books are produced in limited editions and distributed to collections all over the world. The distribution element of the publishing is very important to Gunnar. One beauty of printing in multiples is the idea that people in different locations can appreciate the same ideas and imagery.
The final point I think worth sharing with our community, and particularly our students, is the idea of a sustained practice in the arts. Gunnar has produced over 75 books to date and continues to do so with great drive and focus. This kind of sustained practice, especially in the book arts, is extraordinary.
This exhibition seeks to share the work of The Kaldewey Press and, in the process, to emphasize the broad, interdisciplinary aspect of artist’s books. It also seeks to inspire a younger generation of artists moving forward.