OK, so it’s a long way off, but I hope you’ll mark your calendars for three years hence. That’s when an exhibition I’ll be co-curating with Mike Widener of the Yale Law Library is set to open at the Grollier Club in Manhattan. The club is “America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts of the graphic arts.” Mike and I recently heard the good news that our proposal was accepted.
The exhibit is called “Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection.” Yes, it’s true: “law books” and “illustrations” are two things you don’t typically associate with each other. After all, law presents itself as based in the Word—as logocentric. And let’s face it: many law books are a visual snooze. Yet law’s application to the actual world of people and things generates a tandem, if often ignored, figurative impulse in legal books.
The exhibit will invite visitors to explore the incredible range of responses to this central tension at the heart of law as a social phenomenon—namely that law mediates between abstract rules and the material world, between ideals and the everyday—and it will do so by bringing together a fantastic array of beautifully illustrated books Mike has been collecting since 2006 as the law school’s rare book librarian.
See you there!
April 21, 2016: the date of the exhibition has been moved forward to September 2017. The headline of this post has been changed to reflect the new timetable.