Announcing Contemporary Designer Bookbindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert
This exhibition showcases an array of contemporary designer bookbinding artistry.
NEW HAVEN, CT (August 24, 2020)—The Yale Center for British Art presents Contemporary Designer Bookbindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert, an exhibition that explores the vast array of approaches to bookbinding techniques and materials. Featuring the work of the multifaceted designer and maker George Kirkpatrick, the exhibition also includes exemplars by more than thirty notable designer bookbinders working today, including Susan Allix, Hannah Brown, Gabrielle Fox, Michael Wilcox, and Robert Wu. All the works on display are a promised gift to the Center and are on view from January 16 to November 29, 2020. The closing date has kindly been extended by the Alberts in response to the Center's public closure.
The designer bindings in this exhibition have been selected from the collection of Neale and Margaret Albert. A longtime supporter of this vibrant aspect of the book arts, Neale Albert (Yale JD 1961) was elected in 2014 as an honorary fellow of Designer Bookbinders, the principal society in Great Britain devoted to artistic bookbinding. The Alberts commissioned much of their collection directly from binders, allowing these artists free rein to produce extraordinarily beautiful and original works.
Curated by Molly Dotson, Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center, this exhibition demonstrates how book covers not only protect and support the text within but are also a site of exchange—a surface upon which content and form meet. Designer binders transform familiar materials such as leather, paper, cloth, wood, and metal into structures with lines, shapes, textures, and typography. Some create new bindings for historical works, whereas others design wholly new artists’ books. Dotson explains that “designer binders may engage with the book’s dichotomy between interior and exterior, and their works often reinforce the visual, tactile, and temporal experiences of reading.”
An important focus of the Albert collection, and this exhibition, is the work of George Kirkpatrick. Born in 1938 in Northern Ireland, Kirkpatrick trained as a bookbinder, textile designer, and teacher at Ulster College of Art and Design and at Leicester College of Art. He later earned an MA in graphic design from the Royal College of Art. A deep and abiding admiration grew between artist and patron after Kirkpatrick completed his first commission for Albert in 2004—a binding for the miniature Atlas of the British Empire, which is on display in this exhibition. high, the book has a goatskin binding that re-creates a world map with colored leather onlays. The atlas is housed within a leather globe, specially weighted to mimic the earth’s axis, and a rosewood box lined with calfskin and tooled in gold with the constellations.
Other works by Kirkpatrick on display include The Neale M. Albert Collection of Miniature Designer Bindings (bound in 2008), The Tempest (bound in 2013), Genesis Dream (bound in 2017), and La Prose du Transsibérien Re-Creation (bound in 2019). The Albert collection also reflects the state of the designer bookbinding field with such wide-ranging works as Silver by Susan Allix (bound in 2005), Flowers from Shakespeare’s Garden: A Posy from the Plays by Hannah Brown (bound in 2016), Falbalas et Fanfreluches by Robert Wu (bound in 2019), and “The Poet of Them All” by Michael Wilcox (bound in 2019).
In 2016, the Center presented a selection of miniature designer bindings in the exhibition “The Poet of Them All”: William Shakespeare and Miniature Designer Bindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert. The collectors’ interest in designer bindings has not flagged in the intervening years. Although some of their newest miniature books are included here, the current display focuses on the full-scale books from the Albert collection.
Contemporary Designer Bookbindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert is curated by Molly Dotson, Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center.
Art in Context
January 21, 2020, 12:30 pm
A Selection of Works by Women Bookbinders
As part of the yearlong celebration 50WomenAtYale150, Molly Dotson will discuss select works by Hannah Brown, one of a number of women bookbinders whose work is featured in this special exhibition.
January 22, 2020, 4 pm
Contemporary Designer Bookbindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert
Neale Albert and George Kirkpatrick join exhibition curator Molly Dotson and Elisabeth Fairman, Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center, to discuss the creative exchange between patron and artist in the commission and creation of designer bookbindings.
February 29, 2020, 1–3 pm
Introduction to Bookbinding
Molly Dotson will lead a beginner-level workshop to introduce participants to simple bookbinding techniques and tools. Materials will be provided, and the workshop will also include a short tour of the exhibition. This is a free program open to visitors fourteen years or older. Space is limited, and preregistration is required.
About the Yale Center for British Art
The Center is a museum that houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, encompassing works in a range of media from the fifteenth century to the present. It offers exhibitions and programs year-round, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, and family events. Opened to the public in 1977, the Center’s core collection and landmark building—designed by architect Louis I. Kahn—were a gift to Yale University from the collector and philanthropist Paul Mellon. It is free and open to all. Visit the Center online at britishart.yale.edu, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @yalebritishart.
Download our entire suite of documents and images related to this exhibition.