Paper, printing, and bookmaking have been essential and enduring elements of Philip Taaffe’s work since the beginning. Taaffe’s career began with a series of Constructivist-like paper tape collages in black and white, inspired by William Burroughs’ cut-ups. His earliest paintings were entirely paper collages, mounted on stretchers reinforced with chicken wire. Since the mid 1980s he has collaged paper on canvas, and has utilized a variety of printing techniques including silkscreen, linocut, woodblocks, and various tyes of handmade relief prints. All the while the stages of Taaffe’s work have been prolifically documented in publications inspired by his own passionate book collecting, and readings. A partial list of the writers who have written on Taaffe’s work or conducted interviews with him include Gore Vidal, Robert Creeley, Marina Warner, Colm Tóibín, Stan Brakhage and Peter Lamborn Wilson, Quincy Troupe, and Jack Hirschman.
In an exhibition curated by the artist’s longtime collaborator, Raymond Foye, numerous examples of the artist’s works on paper and illustrated books—as well as reference works from the artist’s research library—are presented as facets of the artist’s varied career. Included are the early collages inspired by William Burroughs; experiments in the paper marbling and paste paper techniques practiced by bookbinders for centuries; collaborations with Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet that embrace Taaffe’s love of Islamic ornament; works inspired by the “psychedelic” and optical art of the 1960s; and works based on the artist’s impressive collection of illustrated nineteenth century natural history folios.
A selection of catalogues, rare books, and first editions that have inspired the artist will also be on display.