The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Livres d’Artistes: Selections from the Ritter Collection

Georges Braque / Guillaume Apollinaire. Page spread from Si je mourais là-bas. Paris: Louis Broder Éditeur, 1971

June 8, 2006 – August 6, 2006

This exhibition highlights a rare and remarkable form of artistic production, the livre d’artiste, or artist-illustrated book. Complimenting prose and poetry from the classic to the obscure, the exhibition features original imprints by celebrated masters of modernism. The livre d’artiste took shape in the early 20th Century as a previously unknown collaboration between artists and writers, with the support of art dealers looking to attract collectors. Great attention was given to the design, typesetting, paper selection, packaging, and printing of these often-ornate books.

The Ritter Collection contains exemplary samples of the livre d’artiste genre. Mel Ritter, a long-time Tucsonan, has been collecting these books for twenty-five years. Notes Ritter, “As both a book lover and an artist, I think the livre d’artiste is amazing. I find continual enjoyment in this unique form of artistic expression.” Adds UAMA Chief Curator, Lisa Fischman, “The exhibition is a testament to the important and enduring relationship between museums and private collectors. Through the wonderful generosity of the Ritters, UAMA has the opportunity to present this selection of rare and exceptional objects to which many audiences might otherwise not have access.”

A number of celebrated artists working in France during the early years of the last century contributed to livres d’artistes, and are featured in the exhibition, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Marc Chagall. Contemporary variations on the artist-illustrated book tradition will also be represented, through works by artists such as Francisco Clemente, Davis Hockney, Joan Mitchell, and Jasper Johns, among others. Highlights of the exhibition include Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Alice in Wonderland and Robert Mapplethorpe’s response to Arthur Rimbaud’s Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell).

To enhance the visitor experience, UAMA created a reading room environment with available trade versions of selected books in the exhibit. “The exhibition is particularly well timed for the heat of Tucson’s summer months. With several trade versions of the texts available, it is my hope that the public will come, view the exhibition, and stay a while to read in the museum,” comments Fischman.

UAMA hosted an opening reception for Livres d’Artistes: Selections from the Ritter Collection on Thursday, June 8 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm. The Museum presented related programs and events throughout the duration of the exhibition.


View the printable gallery guide for this exhibition.
(Adobe Acrobat file, may take a moment to download)

The gallery guide is also available in its original wide-format,
which you may enlarge for on-screen viewing.

Download the invitation and introduction for this exhibition.
(Adobe Acrobat file, may take a moment to download – or right-click
[on Apple, CTRL-click] to save the file to your computer