Founded in 1976, Printed Matter, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books and related publications.
Starting in the early 60s, many of the pioneering conceptual artists (as well as performance, process, environment, sound and other experimental media artists) began to explore the possibilities of the book form as an artistic medium. Large-edition and economically produced publications allowed experimentation with artworks that were affordable and could circulate outside of the mainstream gallery system. Printed Matter provided a space that championed artists’ books as complex and meaningful artworks, helping bring broader visibility to a medium that was not widely embraced at the time.
Artists’ books continue to provide a remarkable reflection of contemporary artistic practices, tracing and even leading many of the most important developments in the historical trajectory. In the face of the ongoing proliferation of digital media and information, there has been an astounding resurgence over the past several years in both artists’ publishing and public interest. In tandem with this truly international phenomenon, Printed Matter founded the NY and LA art fairs (in 2004 and 2013 respectively), which have become the world’s largest venues for the distribution, investigation and celebration of artists books and art publishing. It is thrilling that Printed Matter’s mission continues to be resilient, and remains more relevant than ever.