Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

Demon Tumbling

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on January 15, 2010

[Illuminated Books #18: Demon Tumbling Down Stairs] by Erica Van Horn, in honor of the exhibition The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn, on view at the Beinecke Library from January 13 to March 27, 2010, and online:

[Illuminated Books #18: Demon Tumbling Down Stairs], [Paris: s.n.], 1988.

Van Horn calls these painted books “a bit of play with the term Illuminated Book”; this spine-painting is, also, an inversion of the rare and beautiful book art of fore-edge painting, in which landscapes and narrative scenes are painted on the edges of an open book’s pages. The artist struck upon this unusual format as “a way for people who have no wall space to have a painting, and for people who don’t read to have books.” To make her Illuminated Books, the artist purchased inexpensive books at a used bookstore in Paris, until the booksellers discovered what she was doing with them—wiring them together and rendering them unreadable—and refused to sell her any more.

New Exhibition

The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn

The Beinecke Library is pleased to announce a new exhibition, The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn, on view at the Library from January 13 to March 27, 2010, and online: During a career that has spanned more than thirty years, American book artist and writer Erica Van Horn’s body of work has included prints and works on paper, elaborately illustrated unique books, and printed and editioned works in a wide variety of formats. “The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn,” highlights the Beinecke Library’s outstanding collection of Erica Van Horn’s work, representing all aspects of the artist’s development, calling special attention to several themes: the artist’s frequent exploration of the details of her life, the objects around her, the routines of her days, and her most familiar relationships; her long fascination with the ways language both describes and creates community, even as it determines individual identity and shapes personal memory; Van Horn’s interest in the essential elements of narrative forms and structures, in both word and image; and the artist’s frequent use and re-use of saved or salvaged materials as the raw materials of her work, documenting her creative process and making both beauty and meaning from fragments and remainders.

Related Event

Erica Van Horn will visit the Beinecke Library for a public conversation with Beinecke curator, Nancy Kuhl, on February 24, 2010, at 4pm. Van Horn will discuss her development as an artist and writer, her artistic process, her influences and inspirations. The conversation will refer directly to materials on view in the current exhibition.

About Erica Van Horn

Born in Concord, New Hampshire, Erica Van Horn now lives in rural Tipperary, Ireland, where she is the publisher, with Simon Cutts, of Coracle, a small press producing creative and critical works of various kinds in small editions. To contact the artist, visit Coracle (

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