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Special Collections & University Archives

Felipe Ehrenberg: A Neologist's Art & Archive

The Stanford University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, held an exhibition entitled Felipe Ehrenberg: A Neologist’s Art and Archive from November 19, 2003 through March 15, 2004 in the Peterson Gallery of Green Library. This exhibition celebrated the work of Ehrenberg (b. 1943, Mexico City), best known as a pioneer of experimental and conceptual art. The display featured artists’ books and multiples, prints, correspondence, and ephemera from the artist’s archive, the Felipe Ehrenberg Papers (1964–2000), as well as the archive of Beau Geste Press (1970–1976) in England.

Ehrenberg began his artistic career as a painter and draughtsman, and his early mentors included muralist José Chávez Morado and avant-garde artist Mathias Goeritz. Following the political turmoil in Mexico, he emigrated to England in 1968. Once there he was a founder of Beau Geste Press—one of the most innovative and influential artist-run presses of the time. The press published the work of Fluxus artists—an international conceptual artists’ group of which Ehrenberg became a member.

In the mid-1970s Ehrenberg returned to Mexico and took part in the Mexican group movement, when a number of Mexican artists began working collectively staging performances—often on the street—and publishing alternative art publications that reflected their response to numerous socio-political issues occurring in Mexico and other countries in Latin America.

In the 1980s Ehrenberg led self-publishing workshops for artists, students, and teachers in Mexico giving them the tools to publish works reflecting the needs and interests of Mexico’s distinct regions. He organized a similar project for Nicaraguans rebuilding their society after the fall of the dictator Somoza. In addition, with the establishment of a program called H2O Talleres de Comunicación, Ehrenberg helped to establish 800 new community presses and over 1,000 community murals throughout Mexico.

In the 1990s Ehrenberg published elaborate books with strong sculptural elements. He also created a series of installations and performance pieces focusing on border politics between the U.S. and Mexico in the age of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), California’s Proposition 187, and the Zapatista liberation uprising. His work in the late 1990s reflected the theme of violence, and his more recent work includes the creation of dynamic exhibitions on the Internet. Ehrenberg currently lives in Sao Paulo where he is Mexico’s Cultural Attaché to Brazil.

Felipe Ehrenberg: A Neologist’s Art & Archive featured items from the Beau Geste Press Ephemera Collection (1970–1976), and the Felipe Ehrenberg Papers (1964–2000)—one of the largest archives of a Latin American artist available to the public. Both collections are held at the Department of Special Collections, Green Library, and were acquired by the Stanford University Libraries in 1994 and 2000, respectively.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Stanford University Libraries published the exhibition catalogue Felipe Ehrenberg: A Neologist’s Art and Archive. The catalogue includes color reproductions of works by Ehrenberg and an essay by contemporary Latin American art specialist D. Vanessa Kam. The cost of the publication is $10 (tax included) plus shipping. To order copies please visit our publications web site or via email at speccollpubs@stanford.edu.