To celebrate the centenary of book publishing at Tate, we’ve put together a display of books produced by Tate between 1911 and 2011. They range from the minute to the massive, the specific to the broad, and are a fantastic reflection of the creativity not only of the artists, designers and illustrators we’ve worked with over the years but also the Tate staff involved in producing these books.
The book that marks the very beginning of Tate Publishing’s history is this slim little number (reproduced approximately to size here)
Published in 1911, back when Tate was known as the National Gallery of British Art at Millbank, it accompanied the gallery’s first loan exhibition: an exhibition of work by the British sculptor, Alfred Stevens. It was the then keeper of Tate, Charles Aitken, who first suggested that the gallery could earn revenue from the sale of books and postcards. 100 years later Tate Publishing plays a significant role in supporting the work of Tate, with all our profits going straight back to the gallery.
In the past 100 years we have seen remarkable leaps forward in book production and design at Tate Publishing. Our early, staple-bound catalogues printed by His Majesty’s Stationery Office seem terribly functional compared with the likes of Sara Fanelli’s Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I Am, which could well be considered book art.
One of my personal favourites from the display is this bilingual 1946 Georges Braque exhibition catalogue. It is a beautiful example of lithograph printing and duly acknowledges not only the authors, editors, translators and artists but also the typographer, typesetter, lay-out designer and printer, highlighting how many people can be involved in making just one book.
Over the next months I’ll be introducing you to some of our staff here at Tate Publishing, who are building upon Tate’s rich publishing history and taking it into unchartered territories, including the digital realm! In the meantime let us know which is your most prized Tate book.
100 Years of Tate Books will be at Tate Britain until 5 January 2012.
All books on display are available for viewing in the Hyman Kreitman Reading Rooms at Tate Britai.
Tate Library collection holds catalogues for exhibitions held at Tate since 1911.
Visit Tate shops or the Tate Online Shop for Tate Publishing’s most recent book releases.