This exhibition features over 200 works on paper from the archive of Steven Leiber (1957–2012), a pioneering collector and dealer specializing in artists’ books, editions and ephemera. This presentation focuses on works from the first two decades of the more than 3,500 objects dating from the 1960s to the 2000s that were recently acquired by the Tang Museum from the Steven Leiber Trust. The gift comprises an eclectic mix of artist’s books, exhibition catalogs, underground comics, artist multiples, mail art, posters, and gallery invitations. Other portions of the collection have been donated to The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA).
In addition to his life as a dealer and collector, Leiber was also an appraiser, curator, professor, and publisher. In 1987, from his grandmother’s cellar he opened Steven Leiber Basement, a store and archive that served as a crucial resource for scholars internationally for its 29 years of operation. Leiber was an expert in artist-made ephemera and gallery documentation that became an important corollary for avant-garde movements in the 1960s and 1970s such as Fluxus and Post-Minimalism. Artists began actively participating in the creation of ephemeral materials including gallery invitations, brochures, and advertising traditionally made by a designer with limited artist’s input.