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Library of Congress Celebrates Historic Aramont Library

Release Date: 10 Jan 2023
Library of Congress Celebrates Historic Aramont Library

Library of Congress Celebrates Historic Aramont Library

Events to Highlight Collection of Over 1,700 Books from 19th and 20th Centuries on Literature and Modern Art, Including Illustrated Books by World-renowned Artists

The Library of Congress will celebrate the Aramont Library with a series of events on Jan. 19 that includes a scholarly symposium, a display of first editions and illustrated books by world-renowned artists from the 19th and 20th centuries and a roundtable discussion about the making of the modern book.

In private hands for over 40 years, the Aramont Library was donated to the Library of Congress in 2020 to ensure public access to works such as a rare first edition of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” Joan Miró’s “Constellations,” and a signed 23-volume set of the collected works of Joseph Conrad, among others.

The private donation included a $1 million endowment to fund public programming to promote the significance of the collection within the context of the history of the book and modern book production. This unparalleled collection has challenged historical conceptions about the content, design and format of modern books during the 19th and 20th centuries. 

“When taken as a whole, the Aramont Library is both a measure of Western creativity over the last two centuries and a reflection of a collector’s pursuit of the perfect balance between book design, illustration and binding,” said Stephanie Stillo, curator of the Aramont Library. “We in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division are thrilled to finally be able to introduce it to the public and celebrate its arrival at the Library in-person.”

Considered a monument to modern Western creativity in art and literature from the 19th and 20th centuries, the Aramont Libraryso named by the private donor — includes literary first editions, exhibition bindings, finely bound author collections, and illustrated books by art giants such as Miró, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst and many more. The Aramont Library also houses some items dating back to the 17th century.

Striking a balance between book design, content, illustration and binding, the collection also includes first editions of Western literature treasures by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, as well as three variant first edition copies of James Joyce’s“Ulysses,” one of which includes a very rare schema and annotated anatomical figure describing the modernist novel. Other authors in the collection include James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck and Jean Cocteau. Famous binders such as Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Paul Bonet and Rose Adler elevate many books to holistic works of art with stunning displays of exquisite artistry.

To celebrate this important donation, the Rare Book & Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress has organized a series of events beginning with a conversation with curators; a free, in-person symposium featuring artists, scholars and specialists; a public pop-up display of around 70 books, and an evening roundtable discussion to wrap up the programming. There will also be family-oriented works including a first edition of “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Conversation with Curators

Time: 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Location: Jefferson Building Room LJ-119, with overflow seating in Members’ Room

Join curators Gordon Hollis, founder of Golden Legend Books and author of books on rare-book collecting, Stephanie Stillo, curator of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection and Aramont Library and Emily Moore, assistant curator of the Aramont Library, for a brief introduction and history of the Aramont Library over the past four decades.

Making the Modern Book: The Aramont Library

Time: 3:45 - 5:00 p.m.

Location: Jefferson Building Room LJ-119, with overflow seating in Members’ Room

The symposium and Q&A will offer visitors a look at how, by combining art, literature and non-fiction the Aramont Library embodies the spirit of modernism.

Speakers will include: Gabby Cooksey, bookbinder and book artist from Tacoma, Washington; Patrick Hastings, an expert on “Ulysses” and English Department chair at Gilman School in Baltimore, and Adrien Legendre, head of the Books and Manuscripts Department at Christie’s France.

Pop-up Display

Time: 5 - 6:45 p.m.

Location: Jefferson Building, Great Hall, mezzanine level

Display of approximately 70 books from the Aramont Library.

“Artists Approach the Book” Roundtable Discussion

Time: 7 -  8 p.m.

Location: Jefferson Building Room LJ119, with overflow seating in Members’ Room

Join a moderated roundtable discussion featuring an artist, printer and publisher exploring how artists use, understand and approach the book. Speakers will include: Robin Holder, a contemporary visual artist and activist from New York; Jamie Murphy, printer and book artist with The Salvage Press; Ken Shure, co-partner of Two Ponds Press with Liv Rockefeller, and Emily Moore, assistant curator of the Aramont Library.

The conversation with curators, symposium, pop-up display and roundtable discussion are all free, but you must register through this link. Media wishing to film the display must contact Maria Peña at [email protected].

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division houses close to 800,000 books encompassing nearly all eras and subjects maintained in well over 100 separate collections, including the Rosenwald Collection. The division has a particular collecting strength in 15th-century printed books. 

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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Media Contact: María Peña, [email protected]

PR 23-003
01/10/2023
ISSN 0731-3527

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