A Gift from the Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation Leads to New Book Series

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The Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation has awarded the University of Chicago Press a generous gift to establish a book series that reflects the broad interests of the Polish-born artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017).

The series, to be known as the Abakanowicz Collection, will feature creative and critical works on under-represented subjects in the arts and on the role of art in society and culture.

Mary Jane Jacob, who oversees the Foundation’s grant giving, commented: “During her long career Magdalena Abakanowicz defied categories of nationality, materiality, and gender that sought to relegate her to the margins. Moreover, as a writer, she was both self-reflective and widely insightful on how art shapes cultures. In bringing new histories to light, this series will extend her mission into the future.”

Speaking for the University of Chicago Press, director Garrett Kiely remarks, “What a crucial gift this is, especially given the emphasis on projects that can pose challenges to mainstream publishing. We thank the Foundation for its vision and generosity.”

The first two books in the Abakanowicz Collection will debut next year:  Pow! Right in the Eye: Thirty Years Behind the Scenes of Modern French Painting is the memoir of Berthe Weill (1865-1951), a French female gallerist who was the first to sell art by Picasso and Matisse in Paris. Published in 1933, the memoir had not been translated into English until now due to the difficulty of Weill’s slangy idiom. “Weill’s writing is so of its time—the street slang of the Jazz Age– that even native French speakers have trouble understanding it today,” says executive editor Susan Bielstein.

The Press will also publish Lateness and Longing: On the Afterlife of Photography, a study of contemporary women artists who work in analog media, by art historian George Baker.  “Thanks to the Abakanowicz Foundation, we can give the book the exemplary production values it deserves,” says Bielstein. “Doing justice to this kind of visual material can be fiendishly difficult, not to mention expensive.”

The gift will support two to three books annually for a period of five years. Candidates must undergo rigorous peer review and approval by the Press Faculty Board of Publications as well as by the Abakanowicz Foundation.

For additional information about the gift and the series it supports, please contact Carrie Adams, University of Chicago Press, coa@uchicago.edu.

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