Syracuse University’s Grove Press Exhibit Comes to NYC

New York, NY—Palitz Gallery at Syracuse University’s Lubin House in New York City presents Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951-1985. It is the first major exhibition on the trailblazing American publisher Grove Press. Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951-1985 draws from the collections of Syracuse University Libraries' Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and will be on view at the Palitz Gallery, 11 East 61st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, from November 18, 2013 through February 6, 2014; closed November 28 and 29 and December 23 through January 1.

Strange Victories features 73 objects including photographs, original letters, and manuscripts by several authors such as Jack Kerouac's introduction to Robert Frank's The Americans as well as a facsimile of Malcolm X's letter to Alex Haley written during his first pilgrimage to Mecca. Archival documents relating to the censorship trials, Grove's iconic book jackets, and newspaper clippings documenting the context of Grove's publishing efforts are also included.

“It has been a great honor to work with the Grove Press Records," says curator of special collections at the SCRC Lucy Mulroney. "I am continually excited by what this collection holds. From the editorial files on Andy Warhol’s “unedited” novel, to Maya Deren’s records for the Creative Film Foundation, to the notebooks of Amos Tutuola—the Grove Press archive is rich with never-before-seen material.”

Founded by Barney Rosset in 1951, Grove Press became one of the 20th-century’s great avant-garde publishing houses. What began as a small independent publisher on Grove Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village grew into a multimillion dollar publishing company that has been credited with introducing important authors from around the world to American readers during the postwar period.

Taking its cue from the 1948 film Strange Victory, which Rosset produced in collaboration with left-wing documentary filmmaker Leo Hurwitz after WWII, the exhibition traces the history and evolution of Grove Press, from its role at the center of national censorship trials over the first American editions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer, to its publication of politically engaged works including The Wretched of the Earth, Red Star over China, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, to its scandalous and very profitable, “Victorian Library.”

This exhibition will unveil the tremendous wealth of this newly available collection to the public and includes a series of programs in which scholarly experts and former employees of Grove Press are participating. “I am very excited that Syracuse University has the opportunity to re-introduce Grove Press to a New York City audience," says Sean MacLeod Quimby, senior director of Special Collections. "In turn, I hope that Strange Victories will inspire a new generation of scholars to visit our reading room in order to delve more deeply into Grove’s storied past.”   

"Each book published by Grove, the exhibition reveals, was in its own way, a 'strange victory'," explains Mulroney. "For while Grove altered the American literary landscape and its relationship to social mores, equality, and freedom of expression, Grove also aggressively deployed savvy marketing strategies, became embroiled in labor union battles, floundered in its own success, and offended the sensibilities of not only ‘squares,’ but feminists, Marxists, academics, and many others." Strange Victories tells viewers the complex story of Grove’s many literary and political achievements, whose profound influence on American culture endures today.

About the Gallery
Palitz Gallery, located in Syracuse University's Lubin House, is the Syracuse University Art Galleries' visual arts venue in midtown Manhattan. Opened in 2003, the gallery is made possible through the support of SU alumna Louise Palitz and her husband Bernard. Throughout the year, the gallery presents a variety of exhibitions from the University’s collection and private and museum collections.

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