'Peter Koch: The Book as a Work of Art' opens at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art

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'Peter Koch: The Book as a Work of Art' opens at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art
Studio Peter Koch Printers.

GREAT FALLS, MT.- Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art presents with great enthusiasm, Peter Koch: The Book as a Work of Art, June 10, 2022 through October 5, 2022. This special exhibition in Great Falls, Montana highlights a select collection of Peter Rutledge Koch’s work that spans his career since 1974. Nicole Maria Evans, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the museum, explains that Koch’s “radical zeal for the history of books and fine art printing has awarded him the title of expert within the world of bookish arts. It was his unyielding pursuit of historical, artistic, and technical expertise that made way for him to enter a world of printing giants and specialized knowledge”.

The Grolier Club, America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts, has described Koch as one of his generations most distinguished and celebrated printer and typographic designers. This exhibition is inspired in part by Peter Koch Printer: A Forty Year Retrospective, from 2017 which brought together the vast collection of Peter’s master works as his archives entered the Stanford Libraries Department of Special Collections. Peter Koch: The Book as a Work of Art at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, brings together for the first time in Montana, various key pieces of Koch’s work from 1974 through 2022. The overall body of artistic work intends to draw attention to the trajectory of Koch’s history as an artist by addressing the importance of fine press and high concept/high craft artists' books within the field of fine arts.

Beginning a career in Missoula, Montana Peter Koch started Black Stone Press in 1974 with a single platen press. In 1978 he and his first wife Shelley Hoyt relocated the press to San Francisco and following the San Francisco tradition of fine press printing, Koch acquired a global name and several more presses. Koch has since published under several different names that speak to his creative impulse and natural penchant towards reinvention: Peter and the Wolf Editions; Editions Koch; Hormone Derange Editions; Last Chance Gulch; The Real Lead Saloon; and Peter Koch Printer.

In 2005 Koch formed the CODEX Foundation with paper conservator, and wife Susan K. Filter, to preserve and promote the arts of the book. The foundation organizes the biennial CODEX International Book Fair and Symposium, which brings artists who work in the form of the book from all over the world to the Bay Area with support from Stanford Libraries and other institutions and individuals. Koch’s books and artworks are held in special collections and archives throughout the United States. Works created by Koch have been the subject of exhibitions at The New York Public Library, The San Francisco Public Library, The Widener Library at Harvard University, The Yellowstone Art Museum, The Montana Art Museum, The Holter Museum of Art, The Museum of the Rockies, Stanford University Art Museum, The Book Club of California, The Grolier Club in NYC, etc. From 1991 to 2011 Koch taught the history of the book and printing at University of California Berkeley.

Thank you to the individuals, archives and institution who have lent their collections in honor of Peter Koch and in support of Peter Koch: The Books as a Work of Art. Works on exhibit originate from Peter Koch’s personal collection; Archive and Special Collections at The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, Missoula; and The Holter Museum of Art.

Peter Koch: The Books as a Work of Art is curated by Nicole Maria Evans, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. Exhibitions presented by The Square are supported in part by the Montana Arts Council a state agency funded by the State of Montana, Humanities Montana, National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by museum members and the citizens of Cascade County, and generous support from Davidson Family Foundation, First Interstate Bank, and D.A. Davidson. Special support from Montana Woman Magazine and Printing Center USA.

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