Monday, October 22, 2012

The Catalogues of Steven Leiber: A Memorial Exhibition

Philip E Aarons/Tom Patchett
The Catalogues of Steven Leiber: A Memorial Exhibition
New York City, USA: The NY Art Book Fair, 2012
[16] pp., 22.5 x 15.4 cm., staple-bound
Edition of 1000

Steven Leiber, notable San Francisco art dealer, collector and leading expert on the topic of artists' ephemera, was well known in collector circles for the elaborate sales lists that he produced. Since 1992, according to Art in America, he produced over 40 such catalogues, offering publications by artists (artists' books, records, multiples, ephemera, etc.). These were scholarly listings, meticulously researched and (as an essay by Tom Patchett indicates) without a single typo. They were also lavishly designed, typically borrowing the format of an artists' publication. A list from 1996 mimics the format of Art Forum magazine, for example. Another came packaged in an LP sleeve.

These catalogues have themselves become collectable, and have been acquired (or collected over the years) by a number of museums and universities. Leiber's death in January, at age 54, from cancer, has led to a few tribute exhibitions of these labours of love. The National Gallery of Canada displayed a selection earlier in the year, and last month the NY Art Book Fair presented a memorial exhibition, accompanied by this thin catalogue, which features listings and illustrations (some below) as well as personal accounts of Leiber by collector Phil Aarons and Tom Patchett.

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