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Peter Downsbrough : The Published Books

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specific object / david platzker


Peter Downsbrough : The Published Books

September 25 - November 6, 2009

Specific Object / David Platzker is pleased to announce the opening of Peter Downsbrough : The Published Books. The exhibition will be on view at Specific Object from September 25 - November 6, 2009.

In this project Specific Object presents a complete collection of the artists' books by Downsbrough bracketed by a newly editioned set of bookends; a wall work; and additional individual titles by the artist.

Downsbrough's books are characterized by fellow artist, James Welling, as being "cuts through 'the forest of signs,' to paraphrase Edgar Allen Poe, with austere rigor, pruning away nonessentials. The work, in its sparseness and in its lean form, can be viewed as this rigorous activity of fining down."

Downsbrough, himself, distains the term "artists' books," stating "I prefer to call them simply 'books.’ A book is a volume like any other ... the fact that it is printed in a larger number makes it accessible for a larger public.

Describing his work within an interview with Sarah McFadden in 2003, Downsbrough stated "There are always different possibilities with different words, depending on the situation. The words are the piece. I start with the idea of letters, and the letters form words, but I have always regarded them as objects. A word is an object. The usual context for a word is a sentence, whether it's spoken or written. A word extrapolated from that context and recontextualized no longer has the support of the rest of the sentence... Viewers enter into a dialogue based on that word. They have to recontextualize the word. It, the word, means one thing but it also means another. What is it that defines the actual meaning? People come to realize, if they haven't already, that much of a word's meaning is inferred from and stabilized by the sentence [or the context, situation] that it's in."

Downsbrough does not so much as create sculptures or "structures" in physical sculptural format -- book format, video format, CD-ROM format etc. -- but rather crafts a means to define what is outside the work itself. In this work the structure, the format of the work, defines the frame. Texts and graphic elements flow off the printed space and continue the frame outside the picture plane that is exterior to the book, sculpture or other spaces of presentation.

The eighty books within the exhibition span the thirty-seven year period of 1972 through 2009, and have been published internationally by art publishers, fellow artists, galleries, museums, as well as trade publishers. Often published in parallel with exhibitions of his more formalized artwork and public installations, Downsbrough’s books are formally entities unto their medium as distinct artworks that exist only within the book-like format.

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1940, and living since 1989 in Brussels, Belgium, Peter Downsbrough began exhibiting in New York in 1961 at the cooperative gallery Area. He has had major solo exhibitions at La Verrière Hermès, Brussels, Belgium, 2009; Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, 2009; angelsbarcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2008; Galerie Erna Hecey, Brussels, Belgium, 2008; SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor aktuele Kunst, Gent, Belgium, 2006; FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France, 2004; Mamco Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Genève, Switzerland, 2004; Muzeum Stuki, Lodz, Poland, 2004; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium, 2003, and in numerous other venues. His last exhibition in New York City was in 2001.

Specific Object's hours are Monday - Friday 10 AM to 5 PM, or by appointment.

Specific Object is located at 601 West 26th Street / Floor 2M / Room M285, New York, 10001.

Telephone (212) 242-6253 / email

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