August 1–October 22, 2012
The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, Mezzanine
Literacy begins with the alphabet. From the early 20th century to today, modern artists have used the familiar ABC book as a point of departure for diverse themes. In this exhibit, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a publication, revealing the alphabet book as a learning device enjoyed well beyond childhood.
An early example is The Cubies ABC (1913), a satirical look at the Armory Show that introduced modern art to an American audience. A mid-century work is La Une Méthodologie de la nouvelle écriture africaine, “Bété;” L’Alphabet de l’ouest africain (A Methodology of the new African writing, “Bété,” alphabet of West Africa) (2003), a manuscript related to a West African writing system developed by Frédéric Bruly Bouabré in the 1950s. The sequence concludes with contemporary books such as The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! (2007) by cartoonist Roz Chast and polymath Steve Martin.