The Word Returned: Artist Books by Ken Campbell

Saturday, August 3, 1996
Sunday, November 3, 1996

Born in 1939 and still, as he put it, “crawling from the wreckage,” Ken Campbell emerged as one of the most innovative book artists working in London. An artist and poet, trained as a printer and graphic designer at the London College of Printing, his work goes beyond traditional intentions, methods, and materials. Campbell’s use of the press is unconventional: he runs his pages through the press over and over again, saturating the sheets with printer’s ink, printing not only from type in the ordinary way but using printer’s ornaments, rules and borders, wood and linoleum, torn and cut pieces of metal, and computer-generated imagery to make a rich and powerful work. In most of his books there is, as critic Cathy Courtney wrote, “a tension between the reined-in anger and dark foreboding of the text and images and the fact that the works are delicately made, elegant vehicles designed to be handled with care and respect.”  

Drawn from the Center’s own rare books collection, the exhibition included nineteen books by Campbell, as well as prints, paintings, and sculptures on loan from the artist. The exhibition was organized by Elisabeth Fairman, Associate Curator for Rare Books, with the help of Campbell. It was accompanied by a catalogue and partially funded by the British Council.

Entrance Court, Yale Center for British Art, Photograph by Richard Caspole