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The Fascinating Book Art of Werner Pfeiffer


This fall semester, Vassar will mark the 75th birthday year of Hudson Valley resident and multi-media artist Werner Pfeiffer with the exhibition “Reexamining Books: Book Objects and Artist’s Books by Werner Pfeiffer.” The artist has earned worldwide acclaim as a creator of artist books and book-objects that take on new forms and meanings as sculpture.

The exhibition will appear across campus in three locations—Thompson Memorial Library, Art Library in Taylor Hall, and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center—through Saturday, December 15. The exhibits will be on view at all locations from 10:00am to 5:00pm Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Pfeiffer has worked for half a century in a variety of media, including books, collages, drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures. His “artist books” are new, hand-crafted works that utilize traditional book-making techniques such as letterpress printing, handset type, wood cuts, linoleum blocks, etchings, and archival papers, but have an experimental aspect as part of their structure. His “book-objects” are, in his words, “not casts, nor are they sculpted imitations. Each piece has at its core bound, printed pages. Glued together and painstakingly covered with gesso, a plaster-like coating, they are silenced and sealed for good. I practice this destruction, this obvious censorship simply as metaphor. It is to visualize, to demonstrate, to provoke.”

Hocus Pocus.

Currently a Red Hook, New York, resident, the German-born artist immigrated to the United States in 1961 to pursue a career as a designer and art director. He was appointed Professor of Art at Pratt Institute in New York City in 1969 and became director of the Pratt Adlib Press.

To date, Pfeiffer’s books, collages, drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures have been shown internationally in more than 100 group exhibitions and in over 70 solo shows. His works are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute in Chicago, Badische Landesbibliothek, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the National Museum in Stockholm, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. He has earned numerous design awards.