Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garry Neill Kennedy

Two new essential Garry Neill Kennedy books are being launched at Art Metropole this Saturday, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. One is written and compiled by Kennedy, about his time at NSCAD, and the second documents his own work, via printed materials, by Peter Trepanier. I haven't seen the latter title yet, but I know Peter (librarian at the National Gallery of Canada) to be extremely knowledgeable and meticulous, so I suspect it'll be great.

The former, a large hardcover volume which I received in the mail last week, is called The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968 - 1978 and covers the years that Kennedy transformed the school from a small provincial art college into the 'epicenter of art education'. The list of visiting artists and faculty at the school is truly impressive: John Baldessari, Joseph Beuys, Mel Bochner, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Richter, Dan Graham, Lucy Lippard, Hans Haacke, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Frank, Jenny Holzer, Robert Morris, Eric Fischl, and Dara Birnbaum. The NSCAD Press was ran by Kasper Koenig and Benjamin Buchloh, and published an almost unrivaled collection of important artist's books, including works by Michael Asher, Daniel Buren, Hollis Frampton, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, Steve Reich, Lawrence Weiner, and, perhaps the definitive title of the genre, Michael Snow's Cover to Cover.

The volume contains personal accounts from many of the key players, and a collection of printed ephemera that tells the story of the variety of activities that took place in the decade that the book covers: exhibition openings, performances, lectures by visiting artists, publication announcements, etc. etc.

Trepanier's book on Kennedy also uses printed materials to communicate the artist's activities, this time thirty-eight years worth of solo projects. Produced in consultation with the artist, Garry Neill Kennedy: Printed Matter 1971-2009 includes printed matter ranging from books, pamphlets and leaflets, to cards, posters, and wallpaper. Arranged chronologically, each entry in the volume includes a photograph of the item and a full bibliographic listing, which are supplemented with descriptive texts noting details regarding production methods and techniques.

Both books feature wallpaper as endpapers. The Last Art College reprints John Baldessari's iconic handwritten I WIll Not Make Any More Boring Art, which originated with the students at NSCAD and has been produced as a video and lithograph by the NSCAD Workshop in 1971, wallpaper in 2000 and a slew of stationary (pencils, rulers, etc) from the Tate a few years back. Trepanier's title uses Kennedy's late nineties wallpaper project Seizures, which features images of bosses admonishing employees, lifted from corporate conflict resolution manuals.

Peter Trepanier
Garry Neill Kennedy: Printed Matter 1971-2009
Ottawa, Canada: The National Gallery of Canada, 2012
200 pp., 200 ill., 10.5 x 7, wrappers

Garry Neill Kennedy
The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978
Cambridge, USA: MIT Press, 2012
480 pp., 191 color illus., 410 b&w illus., 9 x 11.75, cloth

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