The University at Albany Art Collections has received the gift of a sculpture by Stella Waitzkin (1920-2003) from the Waitzkin Memorial Library Trust and the Kohler Foundation, Inc.
Untitled (27 Books) consists of 27 individual books that have been cast from their original leather-bound versions using polyester resin. Cast in a range of translucent colors, the books are manipulated using found objects and other sculptural elements.
The Kohler Foundation, Inc. is located in Kohler, Wisconsin. The foundation's efforts have been focused almost entirely in that state; however, it has recently committed to expanding its preservation efforts nationwide. Through its joint project with the Waitzkin Memorial Library Trust, works by Stella Waitzkin have been carefully restored and donated to selected institutions throughout the country. "I am delighted that the University at Albany was chosen to receive a work of sculpture from the estate of Stella Waitzkin," said University Art Museum Director Janet Riker. 'Her books are beautiful and ghostly presences, capturing the silence of lost worlds and conjuring up her famous 'library' at the Chelsea Hotel.'
Stella Waitzkin began her career as an abstract expressionist, studying painting with Hans Hofmann and drawing with Willem de Kooning. She branched out into sculpture and then to performance art and film. The book became her primary subject after the 1960s. As part of Waitzkin's method, she cast old, leather-bound volumes as single objects and as elements of larger installations, such as freestanding shelves, small bookcases, or an entire library wall. These constructions were made primarily from resin, but occasionally included actual books. Waitzkin had an apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in New York where her cast books and other found objects lined and filled floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, consuming the space.
Waitzkin exhibited widely in Europe and America and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Her works are in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, Walker Art Center, Jewish Museum, Everson Museum, and Newark Museum.