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The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project

image from The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project image from The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project image from The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project image from The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project

In the context of my activity as an antiquarian bookseller, J.N. Herlin, Inc., I began in 1973 to acquire exhibition invitations / announcements and poster / mailers on painting, sculpture, drawing and prints, performance, and video. I was motivated by art historical necessity to enter them into the bibliographical record, from which they are mostly absent, and the quasi-neglect in which these ephemeral primary sources are held by American commercial channels.

Documentary value and thinness were my only criteria of inclusion. Over time my curatorial concept evolved from a documentary to a study archive project on international visual and performing arts, reflecting the appearance of new media and art producing practices, globalization, the blurring of lines between high and low, the devaluation of originality and quality as authoritative criteria of and the obsolesce of traditional typologies.

In addition to painting, sculpture, drawing and prints, performance and video, the Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project includes material on architecture, design, caricature, comics, animation, mail art, music, dance, theater, photography, film, textiles and the arts of fire. It also contains material on galleries, collectors, museums, foundations, alternative spaces, and clubs. Simultaneously, I incorporated posters, press kits, press releases, exhibition catalogues (thin ones), checklists, résumés, exhibition and performance schedules, programs, book and magazine publishers’ information, periodicals, press clippings (writings and statements by, and interviews with artists, articles, reviews, obituaries), visual documentation (transparencies, slides, photographs, photocopies from slides, CDs and DVDs), a few drawings, prints, photographs, and mail art works; artists’ books (again, thin ones), stamps, postcards, and calendars; pins and buttons, stickers, coins, manuscripts and typescripts, correspondence, name cards, records, and other miscellaneous items.

The Jean-Noël Archive Project, which contains more than 254,000 physical items, is organized in four groups: documents pertaining to individual artists, collaborators and groups; documents pertaining to group events with a title and clippings; documents pertaining to untitled group events or multiple events, and material pertaining to organizations; and periodicals.

All items are as originally issued. A few photocopies from originals have been so identified. Most undated documents have been dated. Clippings, the majority of the group event catalogues and selected items have been indexed and cross referenced. With very few exceptions, the material is in excellent physical condition.

The Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project is credited in more than fifty books and exhibition catalogues. It is replete with important and / or rare documents and publications from which numerous exhibitions could be culled. The PDF consist of four lists. The first three represent the files which, in the project’s first three groups, contain ten or more physical items. The first list is followed by a selection from selected files within the letters A through D of the first group. The fourth list consists of a selection of periodicals. The total of physical items in these four lists accounts for more than 55% of the project.

Jean-Noël Herlin
March 2009

A PDF of the Archive may be downloaded at:

For access to files or individual items from the Jean-Noël Herlin Archive Project please contact Jean-Noël Herlin directly, Tuesday-Saturday after 12 PM [NYC] at 212-427-0401.