Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rick Barton, Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton, The Morgan Library and Museum, June 10 - Sept. 11, 2022, New York

Richard Barton, Untitled Sketchbook, 1961

Richard Barton, Untitled Sketchbook, 1962

I'm in the early stages of researching the history of artists' accordion books, and similar to that of artists' books, both mediums establish themselves in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

One early, and important artist, who used the accordion format was the Lebanese-born artist and writer, Etel Adnan (1925-2021). Adnan produced accordion books throughout her career and they form a key part of her artistic output, producing her first accordion book by at least 1960. Key to Adnan's adoption of the accordion format was her encounter with the artist Rick Barton (1928-1992) in a cafe in San Francisco in the early 1960's, and it was here that she witnessed his practice of doing line drawings of the cafe's interior and customers into accordion books. She was struck by the possibilities of the accordion's unique format and after Barton gave her one of his half-finished ones to complete, she decided to adopt this medium. Adnan would go on to produce numerous accordion books combining both text, drawing and paintings throughout her career.

So, it was very exciting to come across a recent exhibition of Barton's works at the Morgan Library and Museum earlier this year. The show consists of a large number of his beautiful line drawings as well as a couple of his 20ft long accordions. This link to the Morgan's exhibit documents the show and includes other interesting material about this mysterious artist and a cool video that features his work and accordion books. 

Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton | The Morgan Library & Museum

For more info about Adnan on this blog follow this link:  accordion publications: Etel Adnan, Leporellos, Galerie Lelong & Co., January 23 - March 7, 2020, Paris.

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