News | May 24, 2011

Two New Collections at The Morgan

New York, NY, May 24, 2011—The Morgan Library & Museum announced today that it has made two significant additions to its holdings of rare books and literary and historical manuscripts: a group of books illustrated by modern master Henri Matisse and a collection of material associated with Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction.????

A gift from Frances and Michael Baylson, the more than 400 items includes every significant work described in the catalogue raisonné of Matisse's work, including deluxe artist's books, publications to which Matisse contributed prints and original cover art, a small selection of artist-annotated proofs, reference books, and the promised gift of his masterpiece Jazz (1947).
Books illustrated by Henri Matisse have long been near the top of the Morgan's wish list. Of all the major artists of the twentieth century, Matisse had the most discerning and sustained interest in the principles and practice of book design. From 1914 until his death in 1954, he was engaged in more than thirty important illustration projects, many of which involved his direct participation in page layout, typography, lettering, ornament, and cover design. These books testify to the versatility and technical skill of the artist, whose work appeared as drypoints, etchings, lithographs, linocuts, and pochoirs.????

"The Morgan is deeply grateful to Frances and Michael Baylson for this extraordinary gift of books illustrated by Henri Matisse," said William M. Griswold, Director of the Morgan. "Because our holdings are rooted in both art and literature, this collection is particularly apt. Most people know Matisse for his celebrated paintings and drawings, but he was also drawn to book design. The works in this collection attest to the great vitality and creativity he brought to the field."
The Baylson Collection contains all the canonical illustrated books, not just his first celebrated work, the Poésies of Stéphane Mallarmé (1932), but also his monumental Pasiphaé (1944), and Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (1946), one of five recorded copies of an edition abandoned because of technical problems. Most of these publications appeared in limited editions, which were made even more exclusive by printing a few copies on fine paper. Those special copies are also well represented in the collection. ????

The Baylsons' gift greatly enhances the Morgan's holdings of artists' books and complements related resources in the archives of the Pierre Matisse Gallery and the Gordon N. Ray Collection of French Illustration.????

An exhibition and publication on the collection are currently scheduled for 2015.??????

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is considered to be the most prestigious literary award in the English-speaking world. The collection comprises first editions, proofs, manuscripts, letters, promotional material, and other ephemera related to the prize, which recognizes the best novel written in English by a citizen of England, Ireland, or the British Commonwealth.??

Since 1969, the Man Booker Prize has celebrated the achievements of writers from England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, India, South Africa, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, and New Zealand. Past winners include V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, A. S. Byatt, Iris Murdoch, Kingsley Amis, and Michael Ondaatje. Four of the winners have also received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Rushdie's breakthrough novel, Midnight's Children, won the prize in 1981 and was later named the Booker of Bookers in 1993 [the prize is often referred to as the "Booker"] and the Best of the Booker in 2008. Australian novelist Peter Carey and South African author J. M. Coetzee are the only two writers to have won the prize twice. It carries with it a cash award of £50,000 and a subsequent worldwide marketing campaign, which invariably propels the winners and finalists onto international bestseller lists.

????"The Morgan is delighted to add this important material to its collection of books and literary and historical manuscripts," Director William M. Griswold said. "The Man Booker Prize has been awarded to some of the greatest writers of fiction. The collection provides literary historians with an enormous amount of primary documentation and, as we develop exhibitions around it, visitors to the Morgan with an inside look at one of the most prestigious literary awards." ????

The collection acquired by the Morgan has been termed a "museum of madness" by U.K. writer Iain Sinclair for its near-obsessive qualities, documenting multiple editions and proofs, variant dust jackets, and foreign translations of virtually every winning, shortlisted, and longlisted title. Many of the books are inscribed or annotated by the writers, critics, and the judges themselves. The collection also includes memoranda and correspondence by prominent authors and judges concerning their experience judging, winning, and sometimes losing the prize. Posters, a reference collection, marketing material, media coverage, and ephemera related to each year's selection of titles further enrich the collection. Totaling more than 2,300 books and hundreds of letters and additional items, it was assembled over nearly thirty years by British literary agent and publisher Peter Straus, whose career has been intimately involved with some of the prize's most renowned participants. The Morgan purchased the collection from Mr. Straus.

????The acquisition significantly expands the Morgan's twentieth-century holdings. Together with the Carter Burden Collection of American Literature, the Man Booker Prize Collection provides researchers incomparable insight into the creation, consumption, and marketing of the contemporary novel in English in all its global manifestations. Documentation of the forty-two-year history of the prize also reveals changes in the world of publishing, new styles of book design and paperback formats, the cultural impact of literary prizes, and the development of post-colonial literature. ????

General Information??
The Morgan Library & Museum
??225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405
Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.????
Admission??$15 for adults; $10 for students, seniors (65 and over), and children (under 16); free to Members and children, 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Admission is free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is not required to visit the Morgan Shop.

The Morgan Library & Museum
Patrick Milliman
Sandra Ho