Bound to Amaze: Inside a Book-Collecting Career

Artist's book resembling a salad in a bowl. Constructed of Tyvek that has been painted in swirling greens and map-folded to look like leaves of lettuce, there is poem written on the inner the leaves.
Jul 20 to Nov 25, 2018

This focus exhibition celebrates the vision of Krystyna Wasserman, curator emerita, who assembled NMWA’s collection of more than 1,000 artists’ books over a thirty-year period. Although Wasserman also procured exquisite texts made through the time-honored processes of printing and binding, Bound to Amaze centers on her discovery of books created through inventive techniques such as carving, piercing, pleating, and curling.

A number of featured works are dramatically sculptural in form, made from materials including linen, wood, and semi-precious stone. With subjects ranging from Shakespeare’s Desdemona to the pleasures of eating, the books also reveal Wasserman’s love of drama and whimsy. This presentation offers a glimpse into her curatorial process, focusing on the friendships she has built with artists through the years based on their shared passion for the book art genre.

Recently retired from the museum, Wasserman first served as director of NMWA’s Library and then as a curator of contemporary art. Through her expert work, the museum has become a world-renowned repository for artists’ books. Bound to Amaze includes many visitor favorites along with new acquisitions being exhibited for the first time.

The small seed of a tropical fruit sits on top of a square wooden base that reads Libro-Seme. Inside the seed are cut sheets of music filling the seed like a book.

Elisabetta Gut, Libro-Seme (Seed-Book), 1983; Tropical fruit and pages of musical notes on Japanese paper, 3 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 3 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the artist; © Elisabetta Gut; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Exhibition Sponsors

Bound to Amaze: Inside a Book-Collecting Career, presented in the Teresa Lozano Long Gallery of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is organized by the museum and made possible by Mrs. Marjorie B. Rachlin. Additional support is provided by Julie and Jon Garcia.