Richard Minsky Collection Finding Aid
Archive Collection, Center for Book Arts, 28 W. 27th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10001
Minsky, Richard, 1947-
5 linear feet (5 boxes), 14 flat files
Language of the Material
The majority of the collection materials are in English. A small percentage of materials are in German and French.
Arranged and described by Erika Hendrix (June-August 2022); edited by Richard Minsky (August 2022); finding aid published September 2022. Container list is subject to edits as people in photographs are identified.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Center for Book Arts archival material set aside upon CBA’s donation of archival materials to Columbia in 2015. Various sources.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions may apply.
Conditions Governing Access
Open for research use, with the exception of files marked “RESTRICTED” in the container list.
Administrative / Biographical History
Richard Philip Minsky is a book artist, book art historian, and founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City.
Minsky was born in 1947 in New York City. At age 13, he purchased a Kelsey platen printing press, ink, and six cases of used foundry type, and began a job printing business that he operated out of his home throughout high school and college. In addition to his strong interest in printing, photography, and the arts, he studied economics as an undergraduate and graduate student, graduating cum laude from Brooklyn College (1968) and completing an M.A. in economics at Brown University (1969). He subsequently enrolled in a doctoral program in economics at the New School for Social Research in 1969, where he also studied philosophy of art. In 1971 he left the program to become a full-time book artist. Throughout his studies in economics, he maintained his printshop, and while a graduate student at Brown, he studied hand bookbinding under the mentorship of University Bookbinder Daniel Gibson Knowlton, whose works would later be among the first exhibited at the new Center for Book Arts. Between 1970 and 1971, Minsky worked as a binder and photographer for the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum (officially open to the public in 1974 in Washington, D.C.), and subsequently opened his own printshop, bindery, and art gallery in 1972.
In the early 1970s, Minsky developed plans to establish a public workspace and gallery dedicated to the promotion and exhibition of the art of the book, both contemporary and historical. In 1974, he founded the Center for Book Arts in a storefront at 15 Bleecker Street in New York City, combining studio facilities and exhibition space and providing practical workshops and classes at affordable rates. The Center opened to the public in September 1974. Its first weekend event was a meeting of artist Ray Johnson’s Spam Radio Club, and the Center’s “Opening Exhibition” launched in December of that year.
The Center for Book Arts is “the oldest non profit dedicated to uplifting and furthering the book arts & book art through education, preservation, exhibition, generation, and community building” (CBA, “About”). In addition to its studio rental and membership programs, the Center for Book Arts’ programming supports three primary functions: Exhibitions, Publications (including artists’ special projects), and Education. Since the Center’s establishment in 1974, the exhibition program has grown to 10 to 14 book arts exhibitions per year and is free and open to the general public. Exhibitions are held in the Center for Book Arts gallery and have also been installed in such institutions as the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. The public education program offers bookmaking workshops and classes in techniques such as bookbinding, letterpress printing, wood engraving, and paper marbling, as well as tours and outreach activities, seminars, lectures, poetry readings, and an annual artist residency program. The Center’s publication program produces exhibition catalogs, book works, and publications such as Book Arts (1975-1977), Book Arts Review (1982-1991; relaunched in fall 1998), and the newsletter of “occasional updates,” Koob Stra (1993-approximately 2000). The Center is supported by charitable donations from individuals, members, and corporate sponsors, as well as foundations such as the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
Minsky served as Executive Director of the Center for Book Arts from 1974 to 1975 and President through 1978. Between 1978 and 1979, he relocated to London as a US/UK Bicentennial Fellow, setting up a studio and lecturing at such schools as the London College of Printing and the Camberwell School of Art–activities documented in his work Minsky in London (1980). Over the next several decades, he remained involved in the curation of exhibitions and events as well as instruction as a member of the Center faculty, returning to serve as the Center’s Director of Exhibitions in 1986-1987. His curated exhibitions include Book Artchitecture (1985); The Bookworks of Tom Phillips (1987); Jean de Gonet (1987); Book Works, London (1987); The Effects of Time (1987); Open for Action: Political Book Art (2003); and Embraced: The International Community (2015). In addition, in 1990 he organized the national conference Book Arts in the USA and curated the Book Arts in the USA exhibition, which notably toured throughout Africa and Latin America as a “cultural presentation of the United States,” arranged and funded in part by the Arts America Program of the United States Information Agency, following its installation in the Center for Book Arts Gallery. Minsky once again served as President of the Center for Book Arts from 1990 to 1998, and as Chairman from 2002 to 2007. Other Presidents include Fabio Coen (1978-79), Douglas Wolf (approximately 1980-1985), Barbara Mauriello (1985/1986), Carol Strom (1987). Past Executive Directors include Kathy Weldon (1975-1981), Robin Siegel (1982-1985), Candace Langholff (December 1985-1987 or 1988), Cathleen Gallander (1988-unknown), Don Lindgren (early 1990s), Brian Hannon (1992-1997 and 1999-2000), Peter Smith (1997-1999, as “President”), Anne Moore (2000-unknown), Rory Golden (2002-2004), Alexander Campos (2004-2018), and Corina Reynolds (2019-present).
The Center has always been located in Manhattan, but it has moved twice since opening on Bleecker Street, near the Bowery, in the southern portion of the borough. In 1984, the Center relocated to 626 Broadway, a short walk from the original location. In addition to a gallery, print shop, bindery, and library, the renovated space (over 5,000 square feet) included five private studios ranging in size from 100 to 250 square feet. In 1999, the Center purchased and renovated the third floor of 28 West 27th Street in the Flatiron district, and moved into the space in August of that year.
Center for Book Arts. 2022. “About: Mission & History.” Accessed June 29, 2022. https://centerforbookarts.org/about
Center for Book Arts. 2022. “People: Richard Minsky. Accessed June 29, 2022. https://centerforbookarts.org/people/richard-minsky
Minsky, Richard. 2001. “25 Years: The Book Art Movement 1974-1999.” Paper presented at the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) 2001 Conference, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, July 22, 2001. https://minsky.com/sharpaper.htm
Minsky, Richard. 2011. The Book Art of Richard Minsky. New York: George Braziller.
Minsky, Richard. 2017. Resume. Accessed June 29, 2022. https://minsky.com/resume.htm
Scope and Contents
Materials created by or related to the Center for Book Arts and book arts, collected by its founder Richard Minsky and documenting the Center’s activities and operations as well as Richard Minsky’s activities in his capacity as the Center’s founder. The materials comprise photographic materials in print, negative, and slide formats of people (staff, apprentices, artists, students, event attendees), events, workshops, exhibitions, artwork, and the Center for Book Arts exterior and interior spaces; video footage of events; records and ephemera documenting benefit auctions; administrative documents; events and education materials (exhibition catalogs, press releases, advertisement cards, broadsides, mailing pieces, pamphlets, course and workshop schedules, and other ephemera promoting exhibitions, special events, and education programming); press clippings; small collections centering individual artists; and select Center for Book Arts publications. The majority of the collection consists of paper-based materials with the exceptions of the aforementioned photographic and audiovisual holdings and a dozen CD-Rs. The collection approximately spans the years 1974 through 2015, although coverage of this period is not comprehensive, and there are gaps evident throughout.
The collection is arranged into nine series.
- Auction Materials, 1991-1998
- Audiovisual Materials, 1977, 1990
- Education Materials, 1979-2007
- Ephemera and Miscellaneous Papers, 1974-2015
- Events Materials, 1974-2007, 2015
- Magazines and Newsletters Produced by the Center for Book Arts, 1975-1977, 1982-2000, 2005-2007
- Papers Related to Individual Artists, 1974-2000
- Photographic Materials, 1974-2004
- Senate Ladies Luncheon materials, 1977
F.F. Flat file
- Artists’ books
- Black-and-white photography
- Color photography
- Exhibition catalogs
- Letterpress printing
- Paper marbling
- Print advertising
- Printing and printing processes and techniques
- Beneš, Barton Lidice, 1942-2012
- Bilick, Phyllis, 1924-2016
- Carrión, Ulises, 1941-1989
- Charrière, Gérard, 1935-
- Colp, Norman, 1944-
- DePol, John, 1913-2004
- Dubansky, Mindell, 1954-
- Faust, Dikko
- Greissle, Hermann
- Hannon, Brian
- Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995
- Mauriello, Barbara
- Minsky, Richard, 1947-
- Share, Susan
- Slate, Barbara
- Smith, Peter
- Weldon, Kathleen
Series 1. Auction Materials
1991-1998, bulk 1996 and 1998
Scope and Contents
Documentation of three Center for Book Arts benefit auctions, held at Christie’s on April 10, 1991, and Swann Galleries on May 14, 1996 and April 30, 1998. Invitations and catalogs, planning documents, donor forms, press materials, income and expense reports, and other miscellaneous materials related to the three auctions. Correspondence and instructions concerning the creation of the Center for Book Arts poetry anthology auctioned at Christie’s Benefit Auction are arranged in Series 4 with other miscellaneous papers produced by the Center for Book Arts.
B. 2, f. 0001-0013
Series 2. Audiovisual Materials
4 magnetic videotapes (2 ½-inch open reel tapes, 2 U-Matic cassette tapes)
Scope and Contents
Magnetic videotapes comprising master edits, a revised master, and a copy, documenting the Hand Papermakers Conference (1977), Dieu Donné Papermill (1977), and John Eric Broaddus’s book art (June 5, 1990; most likely footage of the opening of his Spin 1/2 exhibition). The Hand Papermakers Conference and Dieu Donné tapes most likely contain the content advertised as “Videotapes on Hand Papermaking” and sold on U-Matic tapes by the Center for Book Arts (see “Note”).
B. 2, f. 0014 Master edit of Hand Papermakers Conference, 1977
B. 2, f. 0015 Copy of Hand Papermakers Conference, 1977
B. 2, f. 0016 Revised master of John Eric Broaddus books, 1990 June 5
B. 2, f. 0017 Master edit of Dieu Donné Papermill, 1977
The content is stored on obsolete media, and special equipment (U-Matic player and/or open-reel videotape machine) is required to play the tapes.
The “Videotapes on Hand Papermaking” most likely derived from the master tapes in this series were advertised as follows in a flyer (pasted in the Center for Book Arts historical scrapbook):
The 1977 Hand Papermakers Conference
In October, 1977 the Center for Book Arts organized a three day workshop/conference in New York City with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Over 100 hand papermakers, artists and scholars from the United States, Canada and Mexico came for an event which had two unique features: for the first time outstanding papermakers demonstrated techniques of forming sheets in an international seminar, and for the first time the conference was videotaped.
This one-hour tape has been edited to communicate the maximum amount of technical and visual information, and features demonstrations by John Koller of HMP Papers, Woodstock Valley, Connecticut, and by Kathryn and Howard Clark of Twinrocker Handmade Papers, Brookston, Indiana. John Koller and the Clarks operate the two most productive hand papermaking studios in the United States, and between them present a wealth of experience.
John Koller has experimented with new methods of forming sheets in his collaborational art media. The Clarks have maintained an apprenticeship program which has produced some of America’s most outstanding artists working in paper, as well as papermakers who produce for printmakers. They also make paper for book printing and fine art lithography, including Universal Limited Art Editions and Tamarind. Howard Clark’s background in engineering makes his answers to technical questions from the conferees clear and accurate.
This tape is an important historical document with much practical information on the nature and forming of handmade papers.
One-hour color U-Matic (¾” cassette) $100.
Bruce and Susan Wineberg have established a hand papermaking studio in New York City. They also write books, set type by hand, print and bind. Named Dieu Donne Press and Paper, they have begun producing high quality rag paper for other artists and producers. This 1/2 hour tape shows the entire process in linear sequence, from cutting rags and beating to couching, pressing and drying the sheets. The tape includes an interview with the Winebergs about the origin and purpose of their studio. This tape provides an excellent introduction to the process for the student, librarian, artist or curator.
One-half hour color U-Matic (¾” cassette) $75.
Series 3. Education Materials
6 folders, 1 flat file
Scope and Contents
Course catalogs and education program schedules (workshops and special events) produced by the Center for Book Arts in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall as well as Fall/Winter and Winter/Spring issues. In addition to schedules and class offerings, materials typically contain photographs and contextual information about the Center for Book Arts, such as faculty biographies and general activity summaries. The years 1990 and 2001 through 2003 are not represented; some years have seasonal gaps. Arranged chronologically by year.
B. 5, f. 0015-0020 1979-2007
F.F. 14 Oversized education programs
Series 4. Ephemera and Miscellaneous Papers
67 folders, 2 legal-sized folders, 5 flat files, 10 CD-Rs, 2 custom boxes
Scope and Contents
Materials created and received by the Center for Book Arts, including artworks; Center for Book Arts publicity materials (flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, and other announcement forms); publicity materials from presses and cultural organizations related or adjacent to the Center for Book Art (mailing pieces, catalogs, etc.); artist résumés; serials featuring articles by or about Richard Minsky; miscellaneous exhibition and education materials; press clippings; and a variety of administrative records, including but not limited to legal correspondence, donation records, and the Center for Book Arts by-laws. In addition to print materials, this series includes 10 CD-Rs with TIF image files. A significant percentage of the ephemera is undated. Unique highlights include copies of the 1994 Barbie comic book by Barbara Slate, in which Barbie teaches a bookbinding class at a space inspired by the Center for Book Arts; a 1937 bookbinding manual; a letterpress-printed tribute to Lizzie, the Center for Book Art’s former resident cat; correspondence concerning the Center’s rent payments in its early years of operation; documentation of individual Center for Book Arts publications (1991 poetry anthology; North American Hand Papermaking, 1976) up for auction; and a signed copy of the petition that “all foundations and government agencies which administer grants by category to add Books to the traditional fields of painting, sculpture, graphics, and multi-media.”
The series is loosely arranged by type into the following subseries: 1. Artwork and ephemera produced by the Center for Book Arts; 2. Catalogs, publicity materials, artwork, and ephemera produced by artists and organizations affiliated with, adjacent to, or interested in the Center for Book Arts; 3. Serials published independently of the Center for Book Arts with text by or about Richard Minsky and the Center for Book Arts; 4. Miscellaneous exhibition materials; 5. Miscellaneous education materials; 6. Press clippings and press releases; and 7. Miscellaneous Center for Book Arts papers (including but not limited to administrative records, grant applications, and correspondence).
B. 3, f. 0001-0067 Ephemera and miscellaneous papers
B. 2, 0024 Mexican Artists’ Books / Libros de Artista en México, approximately 1995
B. 2, 0025 Ulrike Stoltz book design and art materials, approximately 1997
B. 1, f. 0188 Oversized press clippings and Center for Book Arts publicity materials, 1990, 1992, 1997
B. 1, f. 0189 International Gallerie: A Journal of Ideas, volume 9, number 1, 2006
F.F. 3-5 Center for Book Arts broadsides, circa 1970s
F.F. 8 Center for Book Arts petition and oversized text materials
F.F. 13 Catalog mockups
As of 2022, the quality and readability of the digital content on the CD-Rs is unknown.
An effort was made to maintain original order, but many materials–such as loose and duplicate items–were redistributed and rehoused with like content during processing. The original box and folder title are indicated on the container list.
Box 3, Folder 0031 contains 10 CD-R discs in individual cases with printed inventories of the digital files housed on each. They most likely consist of images or pages for Center for Book Art exhibition catalogs.
The described materials from Series 4 housed in Box 2 are enclosed in small boxes in the manner in which they were received. The folder and item housed in Box 1 consist of legal-sized materials.
Series 5. Events Materials
Approximately 1.3 boxes (including 2 CD-Rs), 4 flat files
Scope and Contents
Materials documenting Center for Book Arts exhibitions and special events, including artist lectures, poetry events, the Center for Book Arts’ annual Open House, and benefit auctions and receptions (excluding 1990s benefits at Swann Galleries and Christie’s represented by Series 1). Contains exhibition catalogs, exhibition checklists, mailing pieces, press releases, and ephemera related to specific exhibitions and events (such as entry forms, branded napkins, invitations). The series consists of all paper-based files with the exception of two CD-Rs of digital media related to the New York/Paris Dialogue Paris/New York exhibition (2005). Exhibitions and large events (annual benefits) arranged by year; other events arranged by type.
B. 4, f.0001-0041 Events, 1974-2005
B. 5, f. 0001-0011 Events, 2005-2015
B. 5, f. 0012 Poetry events, 1994-2001
B. 5, f. 0013 Lectures and artist talks, approximately 1994-1996
B. 5, f. 0014 Holiday Open House, approximately 1984-1999
B. 5, f. 0029-0032 Book Arts in the USA conference summary, 1990
F.F. 1, 3 Exhibition posters
F.F. 6-7 Center for Book Arts Open House broadsides, 1987, 1989-1992, 1997
Series 6. Magazines and Newsletters Produced by the Center for Book Arts
1975-1977, 1982-2000, 2005-2007
Scope and Contents
Magazines (Book Arts) and newsletters (Book Arts Review, Koob Stra, members’ newsletters) published by Center for Book Arts. Members’ newsletters from 2005 through 2007 are filed with accompanying end-of-year appeal forms. Publications include information about exhibitions, workshops, events, and other Center for Book Arts updates as well as staff lists, advertisements for membership, and book arts-related news.
B. 5, f. 0021-0023 Book Arts, 1975, 1977
B. 5, f. 0024 Book Art Review, 1982-1987, 1989-1991, 1998
B. 5, f. 0025 Koob Stra, 1993-2000
B. 5, f 0026-0028 Members’ newsletters, 2005-2007
Book Arts was envisioned as the quarterly journal for Center for Book Arts and first published in Spring 1975. In 1982 it was renamed Book Arts Review and ran through 1991. The publication was reformatted in 1993 as a newsletter titled Koob Stra: The Occasional Update from the Center for Book Arts. Under the direction of the new Executive Director, Peter Smith, Koob Stra was renamed Book Arts Review (“New Series”) in 1998.
Series 7. Papers Related to Individual Artists
1974-2000, bulk 1970s
Scope and Contents
Collections concerning specific artists with whom Richard Minsky communicated, arranged alphabetically by the artist’s last name. Each file contains a unique assortment of materials grouped together by the collector, including correspondence, artwork (originals and reproductions), news clippings (originals and photocopies), and miscellaneous text documents. The original arrangement has been maintained.
B. 2, f. 0018 Ulises Carrión and Other Books & So, 1975-1976
B. 2, f. 0019 Ulises Carrión and Other Books & So, undated
B. 2, f. 0020 John DePol, approximately 1981-2000
B. 2, f. 0021-0022, 0026 Hermann Greissle, 1970s
B. 2, f. 0023 Ray Johnson, approximately 1974-1977
Ulises Carrión (1941-1989) was a Mexican conceptual artist and author of the seminal 1975 essay “The New Art of Making Books” (“El arte nuevo de hacer libros”) (see photocopy in Carrión file). In 1970, he founded Other Books & So in Amsterdam, a bookstore and gallery space dedicated to the exhibition and distribution of artists’ books.
John DePol (1913-2004) was a wood-engraver from New York City.
Hermann Greissle was a wood-engraver and former instructor at Center for Book Arts.
Ray Johnson (1927-1995) was a New York City-based Pop and conceptual artist widely recognized as a pioneer in the practice of mail art. After 1968, he relocated from New York City to Glen Cove, Long Island, and subsequently, Locust Valley, New York, where he lived until his death. Despite his increasing physical isolation, he continued to develop his network of mail art correspondents, and in 1975, he held the first meeting of the “Spam Radio Club” at the Center for Book Arts.
Series 8. Photographic Materials
1974-approximately 2004, bulk 1970s-1980s
1 box, 4 flat files
Scope and Contents
Primarily photographic prints as well as negatives, slides, velloxes, and contact sheets in both color and black and white. Images document book artworks (“artwork documentation”), events (exhibition openings, annual Open Houses, workshops, etc.), people, and places, including exterior and interior spaces at three Center for Book Arts locations (15 Bleeker Street, 626 Broadway, 28 W. 27th Street). The majority of the materials lack descriptive captions or notes, and unless otherwise noted, materials are undated. Many prints are credited to Phyllis Bilick, a photographer and artist with a long relationship with the Center for Book Arts, and/or are stamped with “15 Bleeker Street,” which suggests that they were printed between 1974 and 1984. A selection of prints are mounted on paper and/or bear markings and annotations related to page layout and reproduction in Center for Book Arts publications (typically unspecified). Some folders additionally contain letters or notes concerning photographic materials, as well as the original envelopes from photo labs with New York City addresses.
Photographs of artworks were used for documentation, publicity, and marketing purposes, including reproduction in exhibition catalogs, Center for Book Arts publications and features (such as the Book Arts Review “Members’ File” column), and the 1981 Center for Book Arts Gift Catalog. Documentation of events and activities includes coverage of select exhibitions; Book Arts Day at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (1979); the Center for Book Arts Annual Open House in December (probably 1977, 1978); the Symposium on Artists Books (1981); workshops and demonstrations; and faculty, apprentices, and students using the studio facilities and/or engaged in bookmaking activities. Repeatedly photographed figures include Richard Minsky, Barbara Mauriello, Susan Share, and Mindell Dubansky, as well as Center affiliates and faculty members such as Peter Beard, Norman Colp, Dikko Faust, Gérard Charrière, Jean de Gonet, Susan Rabinowitz, Carol Wax, and unidentified students and apprentices. These photographs fulfilled both documentation and publicity purposes; some images were reproduced in newspaper and journal articles about the Center for Book Arts, Center for Book Arts newsletters and Education programs, and/or included in duplicate in the Center for Book Arts scrapbook.
B. 1, f. 0001-0187 Miscellaneous photographs
F.F. 9-10 Exterior photographs of 28 W. 27th Street, undated
F.F. 11-12 Interior photographs of 28 W. 27th Street under renovation, undated
Some items were removed from other boxes and rehoused in Box 1, but the overwhelming majority of these materials were originally arranged together. The original arrangement and order were largely retained, resulting in duplicate prints and negatives dispersed throughout the container; duplicates are noted on the container list whenever possible. Large prints were removed and rehoused in flat files.
Content from individual files was redistributed across multiple folders as needed to protect and preserve the physical materials.
Series 9. Senate Ladies Luncheon Materials
6 folders, 1 flat file
Scope and Contents
Program booklets, correspondence, exhibition catalogs, and press clippings documenting the “Senate Ladies Luncheon” at the White House on May 16, 1977. First Lady Rosalynn Carter chose to celebrate contemporary American crafts as the theme of her first annual luncheon for senators’ wives, commissioning the Center for Book Arts to produce program booklets as gifts for each of the guests. Douglass Howell, Randolph Hunt, Hedi Kyle, Richard Minsky, Joseph Monza, Susan Rabinowitz, Rodi Rovner, Antonia Weil, and Thomas Weitzel all participated in the production of these gift booklets. The hand-bound, letterpress-printed program booklet features handmade linen paper and hand-marbled endpapers, and contains a short text by Rosalynn Carter, the luncheon menu, and details about the other artisans represented. The American Crafts in the White House exhibition catalog was published shortly after the event by the Craft and Folk Art Museum to commemorate the luncheon. The correspondence includes a letter from Rosalynn Carter to Richard Minsky as well as exchanges with Gretchen Posten, White House Social Secretary, and Elena Canavier, Crafts Coordinator for the National Endowment for the Arts.
B. 3, f. 0068 Senate Ladies Luncheon program book
B. 3, f. 0069 American Crafts in the White House exhibition catalog
B. 3, f. 0070-0073 Correspondence
F.F. 1 Washington Post article about the Senate Ladies Luncheon
This collection is located at Center for Book Arts. Researchers wanting more information or to make a research appointment can email email@example.com or fill out this form.