Exhibition explores bookplates as an inventive art form

An exhibit about bookplates — labels pasted inside the front covers of books to indicate ownership — is on view in the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.

 “[Your Name Here]: The Ex-Libris and Image Making” explores the bookplate, also known as ex-libris, through the theme of image-making. “Despite its small format, the bookplate is an inventive art form that inspires artists working in a wide array of graphic media,” write the organizers. “The bookplate functions as a mark of possession; however, owners and artists consider the bookplate to be a vehicle for self-expression.”

The show examines both historic and modern examples of bookplates with a variety of motifs, and explores how questions of authorship arise in the collaboration between artist and patron as well as in the act of collecting itself.

With an estimated one million individual bookplate specimens — dating from the 15th to the 20th century — the Yale Bookplate Collection is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Its holdings, which comprise many different collections and an assortment of documentary materials, are a visual archive that forms a timeline of the history and the art of the ex-libris. The collection serves as a significant resource for the study of bookplates as well as that of biography and histories of the book, art and design, and collecting. In addition to bookplates, the exhibition features original sketches, correspondence, publications, and other related printed ephemera.

“[Your Name Here]: The Ex-Libris and Image Making” is curated by Molly Dotson, bookplate project archivist in the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. For more information, email molly.dotson@yale.edu or call 203-432-7074.

The exhibit will be on view through Aug. 17 at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, 180 York St. A current Yale ID is required to enter the Haas Family Arts Library during regular business hours. Non-Yale visitors can enter the library via the security guard in the entrance hall of the Loria Center.

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