Photographs have had a home in the book format since the earliest days of photography. However, the interest in and study of the ‘photobook’ as a form is a more recent phenomenon. The definition of a photobook is still fluid in critical discussions, and perhaps it is this lack of rigid characteristics that makes the art form so interesting to collect and study. This new exhibition, opening on April 10 at the Haas Family Arts Library, highlights the work of the Arts and Beinecke Libraries to collect photobooks in a wide variety of formats and explores how the collecting practices of these two libraries intersect and complement each other. Together, these two collections offer a broad historical context in which to examine and critically engage with this emergent form.
The Arts Library has been collecting books by photographers for decades as part of its mission to document trends in the art world to support teaching and research at Yale. Furthermore, the Arts of the Book Collection actively collects the book arts in all formats, including books that use photography. The Beinecke Library has a long history of collecting original photography, particularly related to the American West. More recent acquisitions expand the scope of Beinecke’s photography collections to focus on women photographers in the Peter Palmquist Collection and contemporary photobooks in the Indie Photobook Library/Larissa Leclair Collection.
The exhibit will be on view until May 26.