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Grolier Club Exhibitions

R. Arvid Nelsen

As a collector I have concentrated most on books and periodicals created for popular audiences that emphasize art, design, and physicality. The bulk of my collection includes titles consciously created with democratic ideals of inspiring reading and writing, as well as getting art into the hands of people without extravagant means. My collecting interests have extended beyond this initial focus to encompass artists’ books and—more recently—artists’ manifestoes.


Just For Hus.

Tom Phillips. 1970.

This limited edition print was created by Tom Phillips in support of an artists’ commune called HUS co-founded by Brian Eno, who was a friend, assistant, and former student of Philips. The print is based on Phillips’ renowned work of artistically altered text, A Humument, begun in 1966 and evolving throughout his career. Just For Hus—as it is referred to on Phillip’s website, in spite of the rendering JUSFORHUS on the print itself—was printed by Ian Tyson, whose Tetrad Press also published the initial printing of A Humument.


McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.

Issue no. 5, 2000. San Francisco, CA : McSweeney's, Ltd.

The literary journal McSweeney’s Quarterly emphasizes the physicality of printed materials, frequently by altering the format of individual issues. On three occasions—issues 5, 6, and 11—they published multiple variant bindings. Issue 5, shown here, was published in three bindings and four dustjackets. The Ted Koppel variant shown here is a recent purchase, acquired during my online pandemic shopping spree. The variant featuring the drawing of a boy’s face on the dustjacket happens to be the very first issue I purchased in 2000. I was introduced to the title in graduate school, in the course of my work as a student library assistant in Special Collections at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which collected the title as part of its collection of Little Magazines. The bizarre drawing and its odd subtitle piqued my curiosity, as did the often postmodern, self-conscious humor found within. The tone of the magazine struck me as similar to a memoir I was coincidentally reading at the same time, which turned out to be that of the magazine’s founding editor, Dave Eggers. I became an avid fan and collector immediately.


Contre le luxe féminin. Manifeste Futuriste.

Martinetti, Filippo Tommaso. Milan: Direction du Mouvement Futuriste, 11 March 1920.

This item marks my first acquisition in a new collecting area started this year. In fall 2019, I began the PhD program in art history at SMU, turning from my previous academic background in Classical antiquity to focus on modernism. In the course of my initial studies, I have become interested in the rise of artists’ manifestoes in the late 19th century and their prevalence throughout the 20th. I hope to acquire the first appearance of manifestoes in their original languages and contexts—pamphlets, broadsides, serial issues, monographs, etc.—as well as their first appearances in translation.