Flying just under the radar, the exhibition at the Art Institute’s Ryerson Library, “Multiples, Parts and Pieces,” brings to attention the work of the most pivotal artists surrounding the artist’s book form. From the famed forefather, Dieter Roth, whose book of designs earned recognition as one the first artist books, to Ed Ruscha’s sardonic paperback picture novels, and the entrance of the Fluxus sensibility in the 1960s, the exhibition covers the major moves in the twentieth-century book from the library’s collection.
On display is William Copley’s publication S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop), wherein artists such as John Cage, Marcel Broodthaers and Marcel Duchamp made regular contributions. (Cage’s assemblage box is on display along with Broodthaers’ box of interviews and posters.) The work of legendary feminist activists the Guerilla Girls is presented in a selection of posters on the topic of saving the environment, and the guide to female stereotypes, “Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers.”
A charming addition to the show is a selection from Wallace Berman’s series, “L.A. Lover,” collage selections of printed poems that made sharing art via the post into a very personal exchange. These pieces need to be looked at, opened, reveled in and handled whenever possible. (Beatrice Smigasieicz)
Through May 18 at the Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan.