Paper is Fundamental

                    "The most fundamental thing about a books is to find the right paper... "

Checklist for Paper is Fundamental

Curated by Jon Bingham, 2018

Exhibition poster designed by Scott Beadles, 2018

Digital exhibition produced by Lyuba Basin, 2020

paper is fundamental poster

Paper is Fundamental

“The most fundamental thing about a book is to find the right paper, because it’s the whole ground of the being of the book, and the quality of the paper is in some ways the most elusive … Critics of the book generally focus on the type and when people get into printing, the first thing they get into is type. They learn to recognize the different faces, and become pre-occupied with them. But the paper is more fundamental, because that is where the beauty begins, and in the end, that is all that beauty can come back to – the substance of the paper, the field on which the whole thing can act.”

-- William Everson (1912 - 1994), On Printing

Most people see and touch paper every day. The type and quality of it are easily overlooked. Most of us know little about where the paper we use comes from. Paper is produced by pressing together the moist cellulose fibers of plant material, which is achieved through drawing sheets of the fibers from vats of pulp before pressing and drying them. Developed in China during the Han dynasty by a court official named Cai Lun, the invention of paper was a world-changing event that only seems magnificent in retrospect. The use of paper spread slowly from Asia and it did not reach Europe until the eleventh century. Even after its arrival in Europe its use there caught on slowly. It was only with the development of printing with moveable type in the mid-fifteenth century that the collaboration of ink and paper launched European culture into modernity. 

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 Last Modified 4/30/21