The Book Art of Richard Minsky
George Braziller, Inc
The Book Art of Richard Minsky, is an autobiographical overview of his life through a book-arts lens. He says that he decided to do this book following his exhibit at Yale in 2010 where they have a large collection of his work in the library's special collections department. Seeing a lifetime of his own work prompted him to put this book together. He explores his creative projects starting in 1957. He writes of his younger self, receiving a rotary printing press as a gift that year when he was only ten years old. That gift, and the legacy of his father's news service and his mother's activism, started him on a path of printing, activism, business savvy, and ultimately book art. He goes on to explore his responses to the major events of the times through his art, initially in the post-war era of the 1950s, then through the protests and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s, then the politics of the 1980s and 1990s, until the 9-11 attacks in 2001.
Minsky was hired to rebind an edition of "A History of Egyptian Mummies" in 1973 (the year I was born). Without any consultation with the book's owner, he used strips of muslin to wrap the book, rather than doing a traditional rebinding. His client loved it and it seems that interpretive bookbinding was born in his studio, that day. The following year, he established the Center for Book Arts in New York, the first center of its kind in the USA.
In this book, Minsky shows how his interests and passions expanded over the decades to include astrophysics, art, music, economics, technology, in addition to painting and bookbinding - studying all these subjects in various capacities - excelling as he went, and using all of it in his books at one time or another. His approach to art included techniques and materials not easily associated with books: rocks and sand, barbed wire, computer monitors, explosives, chains, fire, cars, and whatever else that he felt was demanded by the subject matter.
Clearly Richard Minsky has been paving a road for us. He continues to work as a bookbinder and book artist today, pushing the envelope whenever he can. There is no question that Minsky is a master and a pioneer in the world of bookarts. That he has taken the time to show us his work, compiled in this format with his background stories to expand the plot for us, is generous and rewarding for those of us working in book arts today.
Reviewed by Rhonda Miller, Sept 2014.