Max Schumann, Current printed Matter director
AA Bronson, Printed Matter director (2004-2010)
Printed Matter, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit grant-supported bookstore, artist organization, and arts space presently located at 231 Eleventh Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Printed Matter focuses on publications made and distributed by artists. Printed Matter has been described as the CBGB of independent book sellers
Initially publishing artist’s books, Printed Matter, Inc. was founded by a group of artists in 1976 as a for-profit art space in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. The idea behind publishing artist’s books, initiated by artist Sol LeWitt, was that instead of producing free, promotional items from art dealers, the artist’s books Printed Matter would create would be serious, unique publications made by artists, not dealers. The name “artist’s book” was coined from an 1973 exhibition held at Moore College of Art and Design that Dianne Perry Vanderlip curated; the name Printed Matter came after that event.
Printed Matter is one of only a few organizations that creates and distributes artists’ books, incorporating self-publishing, small press publishing, and artist networks and collectives. Historically there was no lack of publishers of these works, but there was a real need for distributors; Printed Matter functions as a distribution agency and as well as a publisher of “bookworks” created by artists like Sol LeWitt. Another descriptor that is useful in describing the materials produced by Printed Matter is book art. The works published by Printed Matter are editioned and are conceived by artists as art works; however, they are not the expensive book arts / book objects but are often mass-produced in large batches of affordable editions.
Among the collective of artists involved from the beginning were Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Carol Androcchio (who later married LeWitt), Amy Baker (Sandback), Edit DeAk, Mike Glier, Nancy Linn, Walter Robinson, Ingrid Sischy, Pat Steir, Mimi Wheeler, Robin White, Irena von Zahn.
Lucy Lippard, one of the founders of Printed Matter, cites artist Seth Siegelaub’s International General Editions as a model for Printed Matter, Inc. In 1976, Printed Matter’s inaugural catalog of books included then unknown artists who went on to become established artists of their generation: Kathy Acker, Laurie Anderson, Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Daniel Buren, Susan Hiller, Sol LeWitt, Adrian Piper, Ad Reinhardt, Martha Rosler, Edward Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner, etc.
Artist AA Bronson served as president of Printed Matter from 2004-2010 and during that time created and directed the NY Art Book Fair. Started in 2006, the NY Art Book Fair hosts over 200 independent presses, booksellers, antiquarian dealers, artists, and publishers. The Los Angeles Book Fair was started in 2013. The NY Art Book Fair and LA Art Book Fair are now both presented by Printed Matter. After Bronson’s departure, Phil Aarons, who is on the board of Printed Matter, and Shannon Michael Cane and Jordan Nassar, help to put together the book fairs.