Founded on the practices of the Arts & Crafts movement, Sherman’s works are magnificent modern examples of the art of bookbinding

Baltimore–The Walters Art Museum presents Interpretation By Design: Contemporary Bookbindings by Stanley M. Sherman, on view April 15–July 16, 2006, featuring 30 of Sherman’s outstanding architectural bookbindings. Sherman’s fundamental goal is to create well-made and functional objects using familiar as well as unusual materials to visually express his interpretation of a book’s contents. Many of his works “jump off” the cover with three-dimensional elements. This exhibition will display selections from his personal collection and is curated by his wife, art historian Claire Richter Sherman.

Sherman’s belief in the power of visual forms as a method of communicating derives from his experience as an architect. His bindings comply with some of the major premises of architectural theory: firm structure, usefulness and beautiful design. Sherman designs bookbindings for books about museums, painters and manuscript illumination where the publication’s subject matter is often related to architecture or town planning. He was inspired by renowned architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn and Louis Sullivan. Sherman binds some of his books according to 15th- and 16th-century structural methods and decoration.

“Stanley’s bindings are meant to convey a sense of delight in the viewer,” said guest curator Sherman. “His designs, based on his interpretations of the books’ contents, become a personal vision through his choice of the binding materials, color and pictorial or three-dimensional treatment.”

“We are so pleased that the Shermans are lending the Walters their wonderful collection of bookbindings,” said William Noel, curator of manuscripts and rare books. “A good bookbinding is not so different from a good building; it should protect, delight the eye and act as an introduction to the subject inside. Stanley is an expert at achieving all three of these objectives.”

About the Installation
A highlight of the exhibition is Sherman’s work, A System of Architectural Ornament, featured in the Guild of Book Workers’ traveling show, The Best of the Best. This bookbinding was designed for a publication by Louis Sullivan, a 19th-century architect whose work is considered a precursor to modernism. Sullivan favored terra-cotta reliefs and copper panels on his building exteriors. Sherman’s three-dimensional front cover responds to an illustration in Sullivan’s book and his binding echoes the colors of Sullivan’s preferred materials.

His bindings include a monograph by Jean Cordey. A three-dimensional wooden model offers an impressive visual summary of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a grand 17th-century château and gardens built by Louis Le Vau and André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV’s wealthy superintendent of finance. The château was later appropriated by the king for his own use.

About the Artist
Before becoming a bookbinder, Stanley Sherman had a distinguished career as an architect and city planner. He studied with I. M. Pei at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and later worked in his office.  While still active in his profession, Sherman began in 1981 to learn the craft of bookbinding in the studio of Thomas Albro, then chief rare book conservator at the Library of Congress. In 1986, he began to produce unique design bindings for clients including well-known authors and his own wife and son. He is a member of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, Great Britain’s Designer Bookbinders and the Guild of Book Workers.

Admission and Hours
Admission to the special exhibition at the Walters is included in general museum admission, which is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens (65+), $6 for college students with ID (18-25), $2 for children ages 6-17 and free for children under 6 and for members. Admission to the permanent collection only is free on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon and all day on the first Thursday of every month. Museum hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets and is one of only a few museums worldwide to present a comprehensive history of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. Among its thousands of treasures, the Walters holds the finest collection of ivories, jewelry, enamels and bronzes in America and a spectacular reserve of illuminated manuscripts and rare books. The Walters’ Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medieval art collections are among the best in the nation, as are the museum’s holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the Walters’ collection.

Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum. This historic property is just around the corner from the museum and features George’s, a full-service restaurant. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500 and ask for the special Walters discounted rate.