Artists Space Archive


Artists Space Archive

Scope & Content

The Artists Space Collection was a part of the Jean-Noel Herlin Archive Project, which is replete with important and rare documents. Herlin, who was an antiquarian bookseller in the 1970s, began in 1973 to acquire exhibition invitations/ announcements and poster/mailers on painting, sculpture, drawing and prints, performance, and video. He was motivated by the quasi-neglect in which these ephemeral primary sources in art history were held by American commercial channels.

Artists Space has been an active alternative art space in New York beginning in the early 70’s. Existing documentation of New York City’s influential alternative art culture of the 1970s and 1980s is ephemeral. Many alternative initiatives are spontaneous, time-based, or anti-institutional and documentation is frequently meager. We know that what becomes history is to some extent determined by what is archived. The Artists Space Collection is unique because of the variety of items in many different art forms and from many different artists that Jean-Noel Herlin had the foresight to save and that others might not have valued.

The collection, which dates from the early 1970s to 2008, includes 265 press releases, calendars, posters, booklets, announcement cards, invitations, catalogs, publications, postcards, newspaper articles and the Artists Space newspapers, all reflecting the many artists associated with this alternative space and the novel events and sessions that were held there.

$6,000 History

Details upon request

In 1973, founders Trudie Grace and Irving Sandler asked an important question. Why didn’t the visual arts have their publicly- funded showcase? Dance and theater had theirs. From the start, Grace and Sandler were adamant that no single faction of school of thought be able to dominate. The fist space occupied by Artists Space was on Wooster Street. During the first year, to implement the idea of fairness, there was a system of artists choosing artists to exhibit. There were so many artists in New York and Sandler and Grace didn’t want to leave anyone shivering in the cold, so they initiated the Unaffiliated Artists File. Any artist who was a New York State resident could send in slides to potentially attract dealers and curators. In 1975, Helene Winter arrived in New York to head Artists Space. Under her tenure, the alternative space began to feature film, video, and performance; and organize traveling theme shows. Today Artists Space is still thriving, offering an exciting and engaging venue.

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