A Time Capsule From Downtown New York’s Most Interesting Decade

A Time Capsule From Downtown New York’s Most Interesting Decade

T Magazine, September 10, 2015

As Edmund White notes in T’s Fall Men’s issue, our current culture is fascinated by the late ’70s and early ’80s in New York, a period when the city was veering toward financial ruin and downtown looked like a war zone. “The was a reason there was a bar downtown called Beirut,” says the curator Lauren Miller. But downtown New York was where artists, actors, musicians and playwrights could afford to live and work, forming a vibrant artistic community.

To commemorate that intensely creative scene, Miller has curated a number of artworks, photographs and ephemera that will be on display at Rare/Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in New York this fall, starting today. Her inspiration for the show was a monumental portfolio of photos, originally assembled for MoMA PS1’s influential “New York New Wave” show in 1981, and recently acquired by Glenn Horowitz. The photos depict icons of the era: Debbie Harry, Divine, Rene Ricard and Joey Ramone, to name a few. Miller also mined the archive of the East Village Eye, a monthly avant-garde magazine that was published from 1979 through 1987. Collectively, the show feels like an intimate scrapbook of the Downtown Decade, when a city in ruin hosted a riot of artistic cross-pollination unlike any other time in recent history.

“The Downtown Decade: NYC 1975 – 1985” is on view Sept. 10 – Oct. 10, 2015, at Rare/Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, 17 West 54th St., ground floor, New York, glennhorowitz.com.


Rare Design in Midtown

Rare Design in Midtown

The Daily Heller, January 21, 2015

Glenn Horowitz Bookseller is a prestigious name in antiquarian literature and has had both feet in the literature of design history too. The design bibliographic expert Lauren Miller Walsh has taken the helm of Horowitz’s new Midtown gallery, GHB/Rare, located at street level in the Rockefeller Apartments at 17 West 54th Street, across from MoMA’s Sculpture Garden. The gallery’s launch exhibit, “Matter/Giacometti,” opened last Thursday, after which Walsh answered questions about the future of the new venture.

What prompted this extension of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller?
GHB has had a gallery in East Hampton since 1992, and until 2012, we also had a gallery in Manhattan. Since that closed, however, we’d been looking for another space in the city, as we missed having a public venue here, and when the opportunity for this unit opened up—in such an incredible building and location—we jumped at it.

What will be your strongest holdings and earliest shows?
Graphic design is most definitely an important part of our program, but we will also be showcasing fine and decorative arts, literature, photography and history. Our inaugural show, “Matter/Giacometti,” is an examination of Herbert Matter’s 1986 book on Alberto Giacometti, and features both Matter’s vintage photographs for the publication as well as his process materials, including hand-drawn font designs, storyboards, layouts and maquettes. The next show, opening in February, will display the architect James Evanson’s furniture and lighting designs, in conjunction with his original drawings and posters for the pieces. Following will be the artist Sari Dienes in March, and, in May, 1920s Constructivist graphic design for the Soviet cinema. We are also planning shows on modernist furniture, contemporary pop-up books, art pottery, and portraiture.

Do you have a process for selecting content?
One of our goals at Rare is to present material that is not only unique, but also expands the cultural discourse. With that in mind, we search out concepts, artists, authors and mediums which we feel are significant both intellectually and aesthetically, and that also deserve greater attention. In some cases the content will be derived from collections we are currently working on, in others by reaching out to individual artists and authors we admire. In all cases, though, related archival and process materials will also be displayed in order to provide greater insight into the creators, their techniques and their motivations.

How will the gallery make an impact on the design community?
Both because the material we’ll be presenting will often be one-of-kind and rarely—if ever—seen in public, and because the dynamic, scholarly and multidisciplinary manner in which we’ll be presenting it will promote discussion, discovery, reassessments and—hopefully—inspiration.


Glenn Horowitz’s New Manhattan Gallery, RARE

Glenn Horowitz’s New Manhattan Gallery, RARE

Gallery Interior, Courtesy of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller.

Fine Books and Collections Blog, January 14, 2015

Tomorrow evening Glenn Horowitz Bookseller will open RARE, a 1,000-square-foot gallery space to showcase "first editions, manuscripts, letters, archival material, fine art, photography, and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present," according to a press release.

Horowtiz—who assisted in the sale of Tom Wolfe's papers to the New York Public Library and, more recently, in the Ransom Center's acquisition of Gabriel García Márquez's papers—has long had his office in New York City, where he buys and sells manuscripts, archival material, and inscribed first editions. The company also publishes illustrated catalogues and monographs, such as the recent Don DeLillo/Richard Prince collaboration, The Word for Snow.

For the last few years, Horowitz has relied on his gallery space in East Hampton for exhibits, a trek for many visitors. RARE, located at street level in the Rockefeller Apartments at 17 West 54th Street, across from the Museum of Modern Art's Sculpture Garden, alleviates that by offering a more convenient exhibit space. 

The gallery opening also launches its first exhibit, "Matter/Giacometti." Featuring vintage photographs, storyboards, typeface designs, posters, and letters, the show explores Swiss designer and photographer Herbert Matter's working materials for his book about Alberto Giacometti, nearly 25 years in the making. This is the first time the book (published in 1986) and its associated archives have been the focus of an exhibit. "Matter/Giacometti" will be on display through February 7.

Future exhibits at RARE will include 1920s Constructivist graphics for Soviet cinema and contemporary pop-up books, among others.

Glenn Horowitz Bookseller to Open New Midtown Gallery With Photos of Giacometti

Glenn Horowitz Bookseller to Open New Midtown Gallery With Photos of Giacometti

Glenn Horowitz photographed by Jill Krementz on January 11, 2015 in his Manhattan apartment on Central Park South.

The New York Observer, January 13, 2015

This week, Glenn Horowitz Bookseller will open its new Manhattan gallery space Rare, along with the inaugural exhibition. Located on West 54th Street, across the street from MoMA’s sculpture garden, the 1,000-square-foot gallery will showcase first editions, manuscripts, letters, archival materials, fine art, and decorative arts spanning the 19th century to contemporary. Its first exhibition, titled “Matter/Giacometti,” opens this Thursday, January 15 (with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.) and will examine Swiss designer and photographer Herbert Matter’s book of the same title.

The book is an intimate portrait of the (also) Swiss artist whose signature tall, thin, figurative sculptures (the results of years of experimentations with movements like abstraction and surrealism) have become famous worldwide. But Matter’s book is a highly personal project that took 25 years to create, published after his death in 1986 by his wife. For its debut exhibition, 26 photos of the artist at work taken by the designer during their more than 30-year friendship, along with hand-written notes, photo negatives, typeface designs, and other ephemera from the book’s production, will be shown to the public for the very first time.

Rare will also host lectures, readings, and exhibition-related panels. After “Matter/Giacometti,” the gallery’s program will feature exhibitions on architect James Evanson’s furniture and lighting designs, the Constructivist graphics of 1920s Soviet cinema, artist Sari Dienes, and contemporary pop-up books.

Souvenirs of a Literary Alchemist: Gabriel García Márquez’s Archive Goes to University of Texas

Souvenirs of a Literary Alchemist: Gabriel García Márquez’s Archive Goes to University of Texas

The New York Times, November 24, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, who died in April at 87, was a strong critic of American imperialism who was banned from entry to the United States for decades, even after “One Hundred Years of Solitude” vaulted him to international celebrity and, in 1982, the Nobel Prize in Literature.

But now García Márquez, who was born in Colombia and lived much of his adult life in Mexico City, has “gone to Texas,” as they say.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin will announce on Monday that it has acquired García Márquez’s archive, which contains manuscripts, notebooks, photo albums, correspondence and personal artifacts, including two Smith Corona typewriters and five Apple computers.

At the Ransom Center, one of the nation’s leading literary archives — and the only one “in the country’s borderlands with Latin America,” noted Steve Enniss, its director — García Márquez’s literary remains will be preserved alongside those of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges and other global figures.

Archive of Colombian Literary Great Gabriel García Márquez Goes to Texas

Archive of Colombian Literary Great Gabriel García Márquez Goes to Texas

Gabriel Garcia Marquez with a copy of his book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, on his head in 1975. Photograph: Isabel Steva Hernandez/Colita/CORBIS

The Guardian, November 24, 2014

The Harry Ransom Center has a coup. The University of Texas at Austin’s deep-pocketed modern literature archive announced today that after almost a year of negotiation, it has acquired the papers of the prizewinning Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, who died in April aged 87. Neither the author’s family nor the Ransom Center will disclose the amount of money that changed hands in the deal, but the Center, and the dealer it worked with, New York’s Glenn Horowitz, are well known for the substantial prices they pay for the work of 20th-century writers. In May this year, the center acquired the novelist Ian McEwan’s archive for a reported $2m.

In addition to personal correspondence and photo albums, the collection includes two typewriters, five computers and an estimated 2,000 letters from correspondents such as Julio Cortázar, Milan Kundera and Graham Greene.

Stephen Enniss, the director of the Ransom Center, sounded jubilant today as he described García Márquez’s literary significance, which he considers comparable to James Joyce’s.

Port Magazine: Glenn Horowitz talks with Laura Barber

Port Magazine: Glenn Horowitz talks with Laura Barber

Port Magazine, June 2013

Book Case:

The rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz explains how he started off by following Kerouac and ended up flogging Nabokov. 

I wasn't exactly the boy raised by wolves, but the Catskill Mountains were a long way from the literary circles of Manhattan. My family had emigrated from Eastern Europe and my grandfather, uncles and father had all been peddlers of various kinds, so I grew up with a strong sense that selling things was a noble things for a man to do. At the same time, I was a precocious kid with vague aspirations to a life of the mind, though I had no way of expressing that, even to myself. My whole experience of state-school education was uninspiring, and aged 17, my primary interests were athletics and girls. My parent wanted me to go to college, but if I thought about my future at all, I saw myself becoming a kind of Kerouac character-I'd head to New York City, do manual labour, write novels and sleep with as many girls as I could.

That was until I went to an open house at Bennington College- it was like stepping into another world, a beautiful postage stamp-sized Arcadia in the middle of Vermont. The time I spent there, studying fiction under the writer Bernard Malamud, was the most transformative period of my life. I lost that awkward sense of never quite fitting in, and I grew confident in my own judgment.

After graduation, I finally followed my adolescent dream and moved to New York to be a writer. By then, I'd churned out thousands of page of prose, but I was also sufficiently well educated to know what superior literature looked like- nd mind was definitely mediocre. To make ends meet, I was working in the rare books department of Strand Book Store and I began to feel that buying and selling books was a way that I could actually make a living out of texts. As someone who was young and driven, it was slightly quirky to embark on such a staid profession, but it appealed to the two competing instincts I had, the intellectual and the commercial. After 18 months at the Strand, I'd earned the trust of a handful of serious collectors and I decided to go it alone. With a loan from my father and the savings from my bar mitzvah, I scraped together enough money to put a down payment on my first library and, six weeks after my twenty-fourth birthday, I had my own business.

At first I was just buying and selling individual books, but when I was asked to negotiate the sale of a poet's archive to a university, I suddenly realised that these larger deals were what really excited me- I liked the process of bringing two parties to the point where their interests were perfectly aligned and the transaction could take place. The game-changer came when I sold Nabokov's literary estate to the New York Public Library for a record seven-figure sum.

Whether it's Kurt Vonnegut's archive or Elearnor Roosevelts collection, every deal is unique, and many of them take years to put together. People like to imagine that I spend several hours a day in the Union Square Cafe taking and eating, and it's true that talking is a big part of my job. Because of the relationships I've built up, I no longer go looking for good books: they find me. I'm also very lucky to be surrounded by a team of gifted younger people, who share my vision for the business and will be able to watch the seeds I've planted grow to maturity. I may eventually take a more avuncular, advisory role, but right now most of my ambitions remain unfulfilled, and I wake up every morning determined to achieve more. If you're able to articulate for yourself what you want to accomplish, there's no secret to success: it's hard work, hard work, and really hard work. And when I'm not working? I'm reading.

Sale Puts Price on Peek Inside the Literary Mind: Woolf and Kerouac Collections Featured on CNBC

CNBC, Inside Wealth Edited by Robert Frank, June 2013

Sale Puts Price on Peek Inside the Literary Mind

By Jennifer Schlesinger

You can't buy literary success, but if you have a little more than $5 million, it may help you gain insight into the minds of two of the greatest 20th-century novelists.

That's how much it would take to buy two collection of letters currently up for sale by a prestigious New York dealer in literary artifacts. A correspondence between "On the Road" author Jack Kerouac and his college friend, is priced at $1.25 million. What amounts to a biography in letters by and to the British novelist Virginia Woolf is for sale at $4 million. Both are being offered by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in lower Manhattan.

The Kerouac collection includes 59 letters and postcards, part of the author's correspondence with his friend Ed White, whom he met while the two were students at Columbia University. The letters span from July 1947, when Kerouac started the travels he documented in his novel, "On the Road," until two months before his death in 1969.

"Kerouac had a phobia, might be too strong of a word, but he had an antipathy to the telephone and there were a handful of people… with whom he carried on long dialogues through letters," said Glenn Horowitz, president of the firm selling the collection.

White's influence on Kerouac's erractic, impressionistic style is obvious, according to Horowitz. "It's White who Kerouac credits with having introduced the idea of sketching with words as a way of trying to somehow capture the impressions that were swirling in his consciousness. That sketching is what really evolved into the prose style that we now associate today so intimately with 'On the Road'," said Horowitz.

One key letter to White is written on the back of a page belonging to an early manuscript of "On the Road." "The most poignant and interesting letter is from the late '40s," Horowitz explained, "in which [Kerouac] talks about the onset of the composition of 'On the Road', and really what's wonderful is he's written on the back of a manuscript leaf for a very early iteration of [the novel]."

The value for this letter alone is estimated at $100,000, but Horowitz is only selling it as part of the collection.

While the Kerouac collection offers insights into the origins of his writing style, the Virginia Woolf letters offers fans a glimpse of her personality and life. Many are written to Woolf's nephew Julian Bell, who was killed at a very young age in the Spanish Civil War, fighting for the loyalists. Others are from family -- Leonard Woolf, her widower, and Vanessa Bell, her sister.

The most poignant, said Horowitz, is one written by Vita Sackville-West, Woolf's lover, describing Woolf's suicide and the days leading up to the discovery of her body. "It's really one of the most touching collections of letters I've had the privilege of handling," Horowitz said.

"She was able to express all of the dimensions of her personality. The one that is oftentimes lost when people think of Virginia Wolf is this great sense of playfulness and humor that animated the perspective that she had on the world," said Horowitz.

Besides the insight, part of what makes the Woolf collection worth millions is how it was put together.

"It was put together piece by piece, to sort of reflect the vision that the collector had of his intimate response and connection to Virginia and the intervention she had in his life over the course of building this collection," Horowitz explained.

Canon Fodder: A library bets on future literary stars.

Canon Fodder: A library bets on future literary stars.

The Atlantic Magazine, Writers, March 2012

Canon Foder: A library bets on future literary stars
By Anne Trubek

With 36 million manuscripts and a million rare books, the Harry Ransom Center, on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, is a standout in the exclusive club of the world’s great museum-quality collections. The requisite Gutenberg Bible is on display, along with treasures rarer still: Shakespeare folios; James Joyce manuscripts; the archives of Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Sexton, George Bernard Shaw.

These days, the collection is growing. The Ransom Center is on a buying binge, but not with the long-dead titans of literature in mind. Instead, the library is pursuing the private papers of contemporary authors. This fall, the center locked down the papers of the living Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee—spending $1.5 million on more than 160 boxes containing drafts, notebooks, and letters, among other things. It’s also scooping up material belonging to authors like Denis Johnson, Jayne Anne Phillips, Julian Barnes, and Steve Martin (yes, that one). The congratulatory letters that Johnson received after writing Tree of Smoke, or the note he wrote to his family about playing guitar—these may seem mundane now, but the Ransom Center is betting that the novelist just might become the next Hawthorne or Hemingway (whose papers it already has), or maybe the next David Foster Wallace (whose papers it recently scored).

But the library is engaged in more than just speculation. Something else happens when the scribblings of a living artist are placed alongside those of the greats. The center is out to play a role in literary-canon formation, the Ransom Center’s director, Thomas Staley, told me during my recent visit. Gerald Graff, a former president of the Modern Language Association—the principal professional organization for scholars of English and other modern languages—calls this “an interesting switch from tradition, when authors had the decency to die first and then their reputation got to be determined.” Now a library with an interest in what history decides is jumping the gun. For what it’s worth, Graff adds, the strategy is “very Texas, very competitive.”

The idea that the Ransom Center would place its institutional thumb on the scales of history traces back to 1956, when Harry Huntt Ransom, a dean at the University of Texas, called for a library both “historic and prophetic,” to conserve the past and shape the future. His first major acquisitions included manuscripts by the newly canonized modernists D. H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, and Samuel Beckett.

Staley is an English professor (like the center’s founder), as well as a Joyce scholar. He’s lined the walls of his office with photos of “his” authors—writers like Norman Mailer and Don DeLillo. Constantly on the hunt for the next big name, Staley solicits recommendations from academics, book reviewers, and other authors. But he’s also interested in the reader on the street. Spotting an undergraduate reading Langston Hughes’s poetry on campus one day, Staley asked which other poets the student read, and jotted down the names. The center maintains a list of 600 authors whose careers it is “keeping watch over.” Staley is no longer secretive about his list; while we were chatting, he considered adding a name he’d just remembered (Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns).

These days, the most popular archive is that of the late David Foster Wallace. Fans trek across the country for the chance to see Wallace’s underlined paperbacks, his early drafts, his e-mails to tax experts. The staff has even received a request for a scan of Wallace’s handwriting, for use as a tattoo.

But it’s a risky game, this betting on contemporary authors. What if Denis Johnson’s hardcovers get remaindered? What if Norman Mailer does not stand the test of time? With an eye toward protecting investments, Staley does his part to promote his authors. Alice Adams, the novelist and short-story writer, was a major acquisition in 2000 and now seems to be the subject of a subtle awareness campaign. Staley admits as much, saying he works at “keeping writers like Alice Adams before the public.” His employees follow his lead. En route to the Wallace archive, one staffer pointed out to me the 27 boxes comprising the Adams collection. Later, another employee, while showing me DeLillo’s letters, offhandedly mentioned her love for Adams’s stories. “She really should be better-known,” the woman said, looking up at me hopefully.

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