UMBRELLA Volume 23, no. 1 (April 2000).
Tony Zwicker, eminent dealer and curator specialized in artists' books, died from complications following cancer surgery on March 10th in New Haven. She was 75.
While always attracted to the written word, Tony's involvement with the books began in earnest after she settled permanently in New York, with her husband and son, in 1961. There she took creative writing and other classes at The New School and at New York University, doing volunteer work as a remedial English teacher at the same time; several years later, having been invited to join the National Arts Club, Tony began a 20-year affiliation with the NAC Literary Committee, holding titles that included, for a decade, that of Co-Chair.
Tony also started in the mid-1970s to work from her home for Barry Scott, a dealer in antiquarian and rare books. It was during the course of their ten-year association that Tony began her own investigations into books as physical objects, and into the relation of verbal-visual content to form and format. Finding herself increasingly drawn to the editions which were being produced then by contemporary, often avant-garde artists, Tony sought out Jean Brown, the late collector and doyenne of the artists' book world, in the late summer 1982. Tony was encouraged, almost challenged, by Brown to take a table at the National Book Arts Conference to be held that autumn at Moore College in Philadelphia.
This she did, proffering books and bookworks, brought along on consignment, to the conference's forward-thinking attendees. Among her first customers were Dr. Marvin and Mrs. Ruth Sackner (introduced to Tony by her son, Thomas). The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry would become, over many years, the repository for many more artworks offered for acquisition by Tony on behalf of artists from six continents. Tony's other clients, who often became dear friends, would include the curators of specialized collections at The Library of Congress, The Getty Center, the University of Alberta, MoMA, the New York Public Library, Dartmouth College, London's Victoria & Albert Museum, La BibliothŹque Nationale in Paris, and Yale, Harvard and Columbia Universities.
In addition, Tony acted as curatorial consultant during the creation of numerous historical and critical surveys of the book arts. Collaborating with co-curator and fellow book dealer Elizabeth Phillips, Tony helped to create The American Livre de Peintre at New York's Grolier Club (of which she was a member) in 1993. The subject of a full-page review in Newsweek, this exhibition (and its accompanying catalogue) documented several lesser-known trajectories in the history of author-artist collaborations. Tony also lectured on this subject, and on artists' books and bookworks, at several venues in the U.S. and abroad. She was a keen observer and pivotal participant in the field during many important years in its history, and enthusiastically shared her vast knowledge and insight.
Antonie Agnes Studer was born in Solothurn, a small town in northwest Switzerland. She had a passion for learning, and would have wanted to attend school for longer than she did; but Tony would later recall that "when, in the aftermath of the depression and just before World War II the decision about my future school orientation had to be taken, my parents (having to think about two younger sons) [decided] against the academic training in a 'gymnasium' which would have prepared me for university studies... Due to the political situation of 1938-9, my parents wished for me to be able to stand on my own feet as soon as possible. Which I did from age 18 onwards." In 1947, Tony, then working in Zurich, was hired as a secretary and translator at an industrial enterprise in Johannesburg. She often spoke fondly of that time, and was clearly inspired by her travels in southern Africa. But having met her future husband in Switzerland before leaving, she decided to return home after two years. Tony married the late Beda Zwicker, then an architecture student at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (a future client of hers), in 1950.
The couple moved the following year to the U.S., stopping first in New York, where Tony found work in the foreign advertising department of The New York Times while her husband began to establish his career. By late 1952, they had relocated to California, where Beda Zwicker was offered a job at Victor Gruen Associates in Los Angeles; within a few years, he was to be made a senior partner of the firm. A son, Thomas Anthony, was born to the Zwickers in 1957. When he was four, his father was selected to help establish and co-manage Gruen's Manhattan office, and the family settled again in New York. The Zwickers became members of the then venerable National Arts Club, taking up residence at the Club's splendid turn-of-the-century building on Gramercy Park South. Their duplex had just been vacated by Ludwig Bemelmans, the Tyrolean creator of the orphan Madeline (star of a series of six award-winning children's books); Bemelmans had done a whimsical mural-collage on the dining room wall, to the delight of the new tenants. [Owned by the NAC, the tableau (one of but three extant Bemelmans murals in New York) features the head and shoulders of a life-sized cartoon gendarme, beside a donkey bearing a saddle bag full of calla lillies. The officer's hat and his sword were real, 'collaged' directly on the wall. But after the original sword was retrieved by Bemelmans' widow after his death, the Zwickers substituted one of Thomas' toy ones for the rest of their residency at the Club.] Then, Beda and Tony Zwicker separated in 1972.
1985 found Thomas Zwicker in the Gujurat region of western India, where, as a University of Pennsylvania anthropology student, he was writing a doctoral thesis on Jainism; embraced by this community and befriended by Dr. Rukhsana Siddiqui, a Pakistani and fellow University of Pennsylvania student, he would undoubtedly have contributed greatly to the scant documentation that exists on Jain commerce if not for his death, with a colleague, in an motor accident in Ahmedabad. The Thomas Zwicker Memorial Archive and an endowed research fund were subsequently established at the School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Pennsylvania, by his parents.
Thanks to Tony's activities, greater and greater numbers of intriguing objects vied for shelf space in her apartment, all either text-based or evocative of what books were, are, can be or will be, physically and conceptually. Among the many thousands of artworks she owned or handled were those conjured not only from paper but from metal, glass, wood, cement, bread, lasagna, latex, hair, ultraviolet ink, seed-bearing plant detritus, Elvis memorabilia, old telephone directories, digital images, self-erasing computer diskettes... The artists Tony represented early on included Gérard Charrière, Norman Colp, Jan Hendrickse, Paula Hocks, Basia Irland, Kevin Osborn, Buzz Spector, Jan Voss, and special friend Warja Lavater. By the early 1990s, when AIDS had claimed so many of Tony's cherished artists and friends (John Eric Broaddus, Brian Buzcak, and Terrence Costello, Ted Cronin, and Andreas Senser, to name a few), Tony was dealing in the work of Doug Beube, Circle Press, Coracle Press, Johanna Drucker, Timothy C. Ely, Granary Books, Brad Freeman, Sjoerd Hofstra, Helmut Löhr, Joni Mabe, Scott McCarney, Keith Smith, Lawrence Weiner, and numerous others. For herself, Tony safeguarded a selection of first editions in German, her first language; most bear inscriptions from the major figures in modern Swiss literature with whom she maintained lifelong connections, such as Jürg Federspeil, Adolph Muschg, and Max Frisch, whose manuscripts she once typed. She also treasured a small cache of rare James Joyce volumes (it was from Ulysses that she'd read to her young son).
In late 1989, a number of National Arts Club resident members initiated legal action intended to keep their apartments under the parameters of rent stabilization law. Their fears of abuse of power were proved well-grounded when, in 1993, Tony and several others - most of them senior citizens who'd lived for a quarter of a century or more at the NAC - were targeted for eviction. While a New York County Supreme Court judge ruled in 1996 (via a decision that made the front page of the New York Law Journal) that "an association cannot permissibly expel a member on the sole ground that the member is 'advocating' a particular position", the eviction proceedings were allowed to advance.
Amidst this turmoil and the first signs of failing health, Tony married her longtime companion Moore Crossey, then Curator of African Collections at Yale University's Sterling Library (now retired) in 1998, at the age of 73. Diagnosed the following year with poliomyelitis, a degenerative nerve disorder, Tony moved to Moore's New Haven home only in October of 1999.
Tony Zwicker's archive now resides at the Joan Flasch Artists' Books Collection, John Flaxman Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; her taped oral history compiled by Columbia University's Oral History Research Office can be found at Columbia University's Butler Library. Yet perhaps Tony's most enduring legacy is her generosity of spirit coupled with her passionate dedication to the people and ideas so important to her.
TRIBUTES TO TONY FROM FRIENDS
Knowing Tony Zwicker has been one of the great privileges in my life. Living close by her in New Haven where she, her husband Moore and their cat Pindar owned a home was a happy circumstance that I shall always cherish. However, the first time I met Tony was in her grand apartment overlooking Gramercy Park where I had come to show her my latest book. Her informed and frank opinions were apparent from that initial meeting. She said that the images and printing in the book were quite wonderful but the binding would not do. And of course she was right. She maintained an ongoing curiosity and astute understanding about artists' books based on years of looking and handling. When she looked at a book she really saw the book and if she had questions they were always incisive probes looking for the truth. She was also a shrewd business woman who knew her market. Last summer, upon completion of our book "Nova Reperta", Johanna Drucker and I showed it to her at the restaurant Scuzzi in New Haven. After looking at a few pages she asked if she could buy the first copy of the edition and offer it the Art of the Book Room in Yale's Sterling Library. We were thrilled. But of course it was another demonstration of her understanding of the people and institutions who inhabit the contemporary artist book world. The people who knew her will miss her - she nurtured relationships that were familial with a large and diverse group of people. And her influence will be felt for a long time.
Editor, JAB c/o Nexus Press
Tony Zwicker once invited me to a book party in her apartment. I had worked with her in my role as administrator for Franklin Furnace Archive, and had been impressed by her priorities. Sure she sold books, but it was apparent from the get-go that artists, the human beings who make these books, were foremost in her mind. She was always kind and professional in business dealings but I was unprepared for my first visit to her apartment! I was bowled over by the elegance of National Arts Club and wondered how could such a down-to-earth person could live in such lush "blue blood club" surroundings? But the objects in the room paled in the presence of her diverse and lively coterie. I guess for Tony life was about beauty and art, but even in gold and burgundy velvet-lined rooms, her passion for people and their ideas rose to the very top.
New York City
Tony Zwicker was a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration as a human being. She was a role model in her tremendous integrity, loyalty, and generosity of spirit and her unflinching honesty and clarity of perception. Tony had a unique ability to combine love with critical insights - she was one of the few people I know who would tell you straight out what she thought about anything you showed her and make her comments clear calls to order, instructions for reform, and rework. She was the best taskmaster, demanding and kind, part authoritative schoolmistress and much supportive ally. But Tony brought something else to my life, our lives, that I used to jokingly refer to as "a civilizing influence." Tony had an old world sensibility in which gestures of courtesy, hospitality, and graciousness were essential parts of social life. She enacted the manners and rituals of cultural life in a manner that embodied all that such graces bestow. We were lucky enough to live in the orbit of that noble spirit, and to have benefitted in every aspect of personal and professional engagement with her, and to have had the rare and precious opportunity to be included in her circle of love and friendship.
A box arrived from Tony and it was full of sand. The box also contained a haul of Egyptian music, postcards, stickers, newspapers, small translations of obscure hieroglyphs and a scarab now quite dead. A trendy speculation of some controversy is that the moisture evidence and extrusion marks as well as a formula located on a local obelisk which describes the making of synthetic stone supports the theory that the blocks for the pyramids were cast in place. The fifteen pounds of sand Tony shouldered back, in a shoe box, explicitly echoes the color of the landscape encircling the pyramidal tombs at Giza and has become part of my own anomalous Egyptian stone. The sand is an unbelievable soft color, a light iron oxide and mildly grainy to the touch. Under a microscope it appears to be a mass of skeletal lenses. Tony’s flight into Egypt was a dream come true for her and her thoughtful and playful remembrance of my obscure interests is a small example of her generosity. Tender memories are kindled each time I embrace that wonderful material. Her gifts to me over the years have been likened to pry bars that remove the tops of ale barrels yielding up apparitional brews that, without question, lovingly nourished my imagination. None have done it better. Tony dear, you are missed.
Planetary Collage, Portland, Oregon & Abu Simbal
I first met Tony Zwicker when she guest lectured in Peter Van Wingen and Alice Schreyer's History of the Book course--this, back in the days when Columbia University could boast a Rare Book School. Tony brought to the class a number of remarkable artist's books, only one of which I recall, today. It was a unique the size of two coffee tables, had wrenching platinum prints of wildlife caught in the Exxon Valdez disaster and had a price tag worthy of Donald Trump. Of course, I was outraged.
“How is this book going to save the world?” I asked, being seen by one man and many women? Tony nodded and smiled. It would be good, she agreed, if the photographer would permit a smaller format, inexpensive edition to be produced but, she wondered, would the prints have as much an impact in a book the size and quality of the standard bodice ripper? And, she observed, "Artists have to eat, too." Food for thought.
A few years later, when I was an emissary from the Land of Potatoes, Sun Valley and the Aryan Nations come to the city for a year to learn all I could about Book Arts, Tony graciously invited me to visit her and discuss the life of an artists' book dealer. So it was, one mild spring day in 1992, I met with Tony and her assistant in Tony's lovely and expansive Gramercy Park quarters. Tony had set aside her entire afternoon to answer questions and show works by artists she represented. There was a Tim Ely here, a Keith Smith there, a bevy of biblio notables and then, unexpectedly, the doorbell rang.
A young woman from some place more distant than even Idaho (Iowa?) had arrived, without an appointment, was in town only for the day, was terribly eager to show Tony her work on the recommendation of someone I don't remember. The Hopeful stood in the doorway, nervous, breathless, freighted down with a portfolio at least the size of two coffee tables. With nary a pause, Tony turned to me and said, "Would it be worth your while to look at this young lady's work and eavesdrop on whatever advice I might have to offer her, providing you, "she turned to the young woman, "would not mind?"
With the grace and intelligence that so typified her, Tony had resolved an awkward situation. The remainder of the afternoon, she worked her way through the young artist's portfolio, tactfully inquiring, perceptively commenting, ever considerate of the anxious young artist, all the while apparently undistracted by my inept videotaping.
I wish I could report that Tony discovered Johanna Drucker that afternoon--and that I was there to immortalize it. Such was not the case. In addition to my amateurish videography, my camcorder was rendered less than Emmy-worthy by some sort of wobbled sprocket. Only grainy slivers of hopping and skipping images appear on the tape I made that afternoon. Yet, though my memory these days is even faultier than my camcorder was that day (I do not recall the name of the young book artist nor do I know what has become of her and her work), I have never forgotten Tony's kindnesses, her willingness to share her knowledge and her life with strangers, regardless of their Iowa or Idaho.
Idaho Center for the Book
Boise State University
Last week, on the opening of his exhibition in Saint-Yrieix, Simon Cutts told me Tony was very ill and I was about to send to her a message of love, when you told me she was dead. I am very sad. She has always been very friendly to me and motherlike, so to speak. Even if we had not always the same preferences in the field of artists' books, she used to send to me informations and catalogues she knew I was interested in. When I went to New York, last May, to deliver a talk in the New York Public Library, she was in the audience. She had much changed, except for her smile and her way of taking care of a lot of important details for you to have the best stay. Whereas I had developped a few ideas she could not agree with, she was actually curious however to know my point of view on books she liked. I remember having felt ashamed not to be so broad-minded as she was. One of her troubles was the growing number of women and teenagers making books in workshops only to spend a good week- end. She invited me with Jean-Noel Herlin to have lunch in an exquisite restaurant, decorated by a "pattern painter", not far from her apartment in this astonishing house on Gramercy Park she had to leave "against her will". I remember how pleased she was to see us eat oysters and drink a wonderful white wine she could not eat and drink herself. It was part of her generosity to be happy of the happiness she could give you. The first time I heard of her name, was in Printed Matter, on my first trip to New York, in 1979. I was tired to speak English, and I did not call him (I thought Tony was a man !). Only later, I discovered she spoke French perfectly with a mild accent her French friends will miss.
I'll always think of Tony when making risotto, one of the many things she introduced me to over the years we knew each other. Books and food were equal nourishment on Gramercy Park, and Tony made sure her visitors were well fed. She knew just what books to show you to keep the energy flowing in your own work. The importance she placed on bringing people together strengthened the community of book artists. Her generous support, from insightful conversations to placing work in collections and exhibitions, gave this community a form. Her spirit lives through the works by us whom she touched so dearly.
Our lives as collectors of artists' books were enriched and expanded when we met Tony. It was at the Philadelphia book fair in the early eighties that Marvin discussed the need for a person to represent those artist/poets whose books were so difficult to find in galleries. Tony became that person. She excelled in finding creative bookmakers and imaginative works. She became the matchmaker par excellence for artists, libraries and collectors. How she cared for everyone! She would always call the artist to let them know when we selected a work and confirm a fair price. She held books in reserve for us when, more often than not, we exceeded our budget. She nurtured and supported her book artists, more than we shall ever really know. No wonder so many of us came to celebrate her retirement at a gala party in the loft of Steve Clay and Julie Harrison. Tony was characteristically overwhelmed by how many friends attended the festivity and participated in the extraordinary First Assembling for Tony Zwicker. We shall always remember her commitment to the book arts, her fine eye and her all embracing graciousness.
Ruth and Marvin Sackner
Miami Beach, FL
I have been slow to understand that I won't be speaking with Tony ever again, simply hear her say my name and roll the "r" in it more drastically than anybody else on this side of the Atlantic could. There will be no more calls from her alerting me to a specific artist's work, announcing with urgency and excitement another shipment of archival material, inquiring about my health during times that it was fragile or being slightly baffled and impatient about her own physical struggles.
My relationship with Tony seems so short now, yet it spans the exact same time period that I have been involved with artists' books. She was one of the very first people I visited after having started my work here at the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection in the Fall of '97 and not once during this initial encounter was she trying to intimidate me as a newcomer to the field - with her wealth of insight and years of expertise it would have been easy to overpower my lack of detailed knowledge.
She rather choose to accept (or maybe ignore) it, found pleasure in chatting with me over lunch and then laid out book after book on this one afternoon that I spent in her splendid apartment. Over the course of the next months her selection would slowly become more tailored to my needs, preferences and budgetary possibilities and she was clearly satisfied when specific suggestions on her part lead to mutual excitement about the work. Yet we never really had the time to start a very active business relationship as she was just then beginning to pull away from her professional life.
I felt especially close to Tony last winter while I was working on my contribution to the Festschrift that was produced in honor of her retirement. I couldn't wait for her to receive this package and to be pleasantly overwhelmed by all the love that artists, collectors and colleagues expressed and felt for her! Very gladly had I received the invitation to personally participate in the production of this multiple as it meant the possibility to finally give something back to her. Evening after evening I sat in front of the computer and was slowly constructing a digital image out of numerous different photographs. "Thank you, dear Tony" was one half of the text block which I moved around on the screen over and over again to find the best position for it before it was finally blended into the image pixel by pixel. A very slow process and I must have subconsciously looked at, thought and felt this sentence hundreds of times. I'm quite aware of feeling it just as passionately these days"Thank you, dear Tony. Oh, for everything".
Unlike others, I will be in the fortunate situation to feel her presence on a daily basis, while working amidst the hundreds of archival boxes that are all labeled with her name. I am glad she knew that (at least) care would be taken of all her papers and files and for now there remain two things that I am strongly hoping for one is that the material will in fact become an inestimable resource for future users (and I know that deep down she wished for this to happen, too, although she never could retain herself from expressing doubts about the archives' possible value). My other hope is that her son Thomas, whose untimely death she never ceased to mourn, was right there to await her.
Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection (John M Flaxman Library)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Living at such a remote distance from the center of activity in Artists Books in Europe and America, I came to rely on the few specialist dealers and publications in the subject. [This was long before the Internet created the global village].
Tony Zwicker had been specializing in artists' books virtually from its inception in the 60's and was certainly the most knowledgeable person I knew in the field. But Tony was far more than a dealer in artists' books; she knew and befriended virtually everyone on both sides of the equation - the creators and collectors. Because of this background, she was able to guide me (and I'm sure many others) into fascinating unknown areas. She was always up to date on the literature on the subject; not only the major publications in English but also esoteric foreign language publications and exhibition catalogues most of which she was able to read without translation.
Some of my most enjoyable time as a collector was spent with Tony (and Michael her assistant) in her wonderful apartment at Gramercy Park where I avidly inspected all new arrivals before having to make agonizing choices from her huge selection!
I feel bereft that those wonderful times of sharing with Tony are gone. But her legacy (and her archives deposited at The Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) will live on and her influence will never be forgotten.
Jack M. Ginsberg
Johannesburg, South Africa
The one time I met Tony Zwicker was when she visited me after a talk in New York City. She said,"Would it be possible for me to hold the Bean Rolls canister in my hand?" She sat with the can in hand and we talked like old friends. She never asked me to open it.
New York City
In the fall of 1984, I had just moved to New York City. Tony was adventurous and made the unusual trip, in those days by an art dealer, to my loft for a studio visit in Brooklyn. Upon looking at a piece of work she had seen in a recent exhibition, said, "I've been trying to find out whose work this is, and it's yours!" she delightedly expressed. From that moment our bond was immediate, and we began a lifelong friendship.
Tony was one of the most important friends I had in New York City. She supported me as an artist, both as my art dealer and emotional confidant. Tony was my 'other' mother, who I discussed matters of the book, art and love relations. She was informed about current exhibitions, the recent work of international artists, global warfare and who was dating who. Often we would go to exhibitions together. She would include me in her introductions to her colleagues. I felt honored to be her friend. I felt special when I was with Tony, in the way everybody felt special when Ms. Zwicker was present. Our conversations were memorable, whether we agreed or were conflicted over various issues in art, politics or relationships. She was influential in my career as an artist but more importantly she shared her immediate family, friends and fellow artists who became like brothers and sisters to me. Upon entering her spacious apartment filled from floor to ceiling with artist's books, magazines, bubble wrap, and numerous portraits of Thomas, Tony and I would talk. She gave me her knowledge, sense of humor, and wisdom, which were unparalleled, over a glass of good red wine and delicious cheese. I miss her and love her dearly.
Ever since artists' books became our main focus, Tony played a crucial part in our research. It began with the usual phone call to a rare book dealerdo you have the following volumes? Our inquiries were often naēve concerning prices and availability. But Tony's friendly responses provided us with a sorely needed education in the field. Although we needed New York libraries, an appointment with Tony was far more rewarding. Showing an acute interest in our progress, she brought out books unknown to us and bound to increase the scope of our project. For each book, she had plenty of documentation, including clippings of reviews. Occasionally when we purchased a book, her thanks suddenly reminded us that she was a bookdealer.
Book people of all sorts flocked to her apartment and became her friends. She frequently left her own treasure house to visit libraries and exhibits including the book fair at St.Yrieix-la-Perche where she delivered a seminal lecture.One of our greatest moments was when Tony phoned from somewhere in our area and came to lunch. After the meal, she fetched something from her car-limited editions from the Smithsonian Exhibition. We could never have had so close a look at them under any other circumstances.
Tony's accomplishments in furthering book art warrant a comparison with the dedicated Kahnweiler without whom some of the major painters of the last century might have remained unknown.Whenever a bookworker becomes famous it may be due in large part to Tony who set everything in motion.
Judd D. and Renee Riese Hubert
Newport Beach, California
Art can be a portal that transports the soul to a different dimension! Thank you for being one of the last dinosaurs in the art world whose heart remainedd true for her artists and their art with loving care, kindness and generosity. With deep respect and affection, we will miss you.
New Mexico and Germany
Tony Zwicker tempted me to go on a bibliographic exploring trip, and I have never been the same since. I was an almost militant conservative in matters of book design. I wa smug, and it turned out—dumb! In a couple of hourse examining her stock of artists' books along with her gentle commentary and kind spirits, the scales fell from my eyes. I saw possibilities in the visual messages of books I had never dreamed of. No sinner emerging from the baptismal pool ever enjoyed hisnew world more than I did. My enthusiasm led to a severely damaged institutional budget.
She was my teacher and friend. A sentence from John Updike's poem Perfection Wasted says it best: "And another regretable thing about death is the ceasing of your own brand of magic which took a whole life to develop and market..." Her brand of magic enriched my life by opening the doors of my mind to the wonderful kaleidoscopic world of artists' books. Tony: I owe you big!
Tony Zwicker infused our field with a great deal of dignity. She did this in a very quiet and genuine way, one person at a time because she didn't publish writings, rarely published catalogs and seldom gave lectures or spoke on panels; through her incredible generosity of spirit she managed to light up our little corner of the artists' book world. Her legacy is huge but at present is largely contained in the stories remembered by all of us. Every single time I visited with Tony, whether at her place or mine or at a restaurant or gallery, it was a special occasion. I always felt safe, listened to and cared for. I learned a lot about respect from Tony. She was absolutely precious. Her passing is a deeply sad loss and I'll miss her every day.
New York City
Tony loved books - but it is clear to us that what she really cared about, were the people who made the books.
Throughout the last several years, Tony supported our work with an enthusiasm that went well beyond the typical dealer-artist relationship. She always seemed to care more about our excitement over a sale than she did about any gain on her part. We are remembering the sound of her voice over the telephone and how she loved to share good news.
Over time, Tony became very close to our family and on numerous occasions she and Moore welcomed us at her summer home in Connecticut. This is where we are remembering Tony best - sharing her passion and excitement during a float in the lake, during a good meal, during a walk to the top of a hill and even during a drive to the supermarket.
We will miss her love.
Sjoerd Hofstra and Karen O'Hearn
For Tony, the words "friend and dealer" were interchangeable. Her belief in my work always encouraged me to continue artmaking.
So it seemed quite appropriate to organize that surprise party in 1991. It turned out to be an opportunity for her artists to not only collectively say thanks but was a way for all of us to finally meet.Anyone who was there still has fond memories of the great companionship and also the incredible food that my wife, Marsha, created that day.
The year before, when Tony was asked to give a slide presentation entitled American Bookworks, 1965-90 for Book Arts in the USA, we collaborated on the selection, sequencing and text. The task was enormous but it was paybck and she was very pleased with the results.
Norman B. Colp
New York City
Putting Tony Zwicker into words is impossible - so in my pithy fashion I settled for a one-word portrait; civilized - as in knowing what is really means to be human in all interactions - wit honesty, kindness, wit, curiosity, critical dialectic and on and on.
After our first encounter when I had called on her at her wonderous Gramercy Park abode, she saw me down to the street, hailed a taxi for me, kissed me lightly on each cheek and welcomed me to come back. The few other visits there and once in my studio and garden in Atlnata always left me feeling more enlightened and lighter.
I still picture her there, clearing away any distractions or clutter to settle into a warm, newsy conversation touched with a little gossip maybe and the beverage of our choice.
What will the Artists' Book World (or any world ) do without you Tony. XXX
It was at Tony's magical apartment in Gramercy Park that I first came across artists' books and those who made them. In the early 1980s I was taken to a party there by Bruce Bacon and that evening met Warja Lavater, Lois Polansky, Stephanie Brody Lederman and Norman Colp for the first time. It is doubtful if, without this occasion, there would have been an artists' book column in Art Monthly (certainly not one written by me). Through the column, the echoes of that night are still reverberating twenty years later. My relationship with Tony was always straightforward and we had much to share. I have a store of vivid memories from subsequent visits to the apartment and of hers to London, when little by little, I learnt more about her life outside book art. Her's is a voice I shall not forget.
Tony, I must say that you are the only person that I have known that each and every visit with you wasn't simply memorable, but I can distinctly remember each visit with you with amazing clarity. There's a reason for that and thinking back over our friendship of eighteen years, I realize that I knew from the beginning that each visit to that treasure trove you called home would become very precious to me. Thank you for your friendship and guidance - cherished lessons for living a life in art, in the art of mothering and in the mentoring and nurturing the lives and art of others.
I will miss your salon - your consistent reinforcement for my resolve, your love and genuine concern, and especially your critical eye. I came away from each visit with you with a renewed sense of excitement and commitment to my own work having spent time with you and experienced the bookwork of others.
You held a unique position in the lives and careers of many artists. To repeat a line of text from my page in the Festshrift published in your honor..."now more than ever."
Jo Anne Paschall
Director, Nexus Press
Tony Zwicker's passing is the final, exquisite end of an era - a gentle era when book dealers were caretakers of beautiful books and erudite conversationalists, as well as sellers of books.
Buying from Tony was a warm, personal experience, one not to be forgotten.
Book Collector, Boca Raton, FL
How does one describe the stature of Tony Zwicker in the art world? While I cannot attempt such a feat and would not be able to do her justice in terms of writing about her professional accomplishments, I would like to speak from a personal perspective.
Tony was an inspiration to me personally, as I'm sure she was to others. Although I had the privilege of meeting with Tony on only a few occasions, since about 1994, she left a dramatic impression on me as a warm, caring, passionate woman and a savvy, sophisticated business woman. I was fascinated by her European accent, her flair, her directness, her strong presence, her eye for high aesthetics combined with intelligent narrative, for her shear excitement and love of Artist's Books. I will always remember the sparkle and brilliance in her eyes when Tony looked at/showed/touched/felt her babies - these extraordinary books. Watching Tony pull these jewels from their housings to share with me – her enthusiasm, depth of knowledge, passion and love of books, I will always hold dear.
Tony clearly enjoyed talking to artists. She asked me many questions, mostly about daily life - how I lived, the size of my apartment, how I paid my rent, how many days I worked at my job, how much time I had in my studio, questions about my artistic process, materials, fellowships, etc. She told me I needed to learn how to make editions, which is what lead me to The Center for Book Arts, where I now teach. It was through Tony's directness and encouragement, that I came to finally trust the fact that it was important not only to communicate, but to share my inner world, my private thoughts and journal writings, to an audience that would be receptive.
There are only a small number of people we encounter in life who affect the paths we take, simply by one encounter. I was fortunate to have been able to have had a few such meetings with Tony Zwicker. Her absence will be deeply felt not only in the larger book world, but to individual artists, like myself.
New York City
Growing up in small-town Indiana, I realized by the ninth grade that mythic New York would mean a lot to my future life – its theatres, museums, smart talkers. I'd visited Manhattan several times, but first walking in to Tony's Gramercy Park apartment was like participating in a mediation between Edith Wharton and Dawn Powell, the Chrysler Building visible from her two story artist's studio living room, dining-room wallpaper decorations by former tenant Ludwig Bemelmans – and this kind, knowledgeable, generous woman who became a dear friend. I visited her first in the mid-1970s. As a rare books librarian in western Canada I was staying with Barry Scott, a dealer in modern firsts. But "staying" with Barry, who had a tiny apartment, actually meant staying with his neighbor and "assistant," Tony. After Barry moved on I continued to visit Tony in the spring or after Christmas, and she seemed delighted and amused at my non-stop assault on Manhattan's cultural events of the moment. Sometime in 1980 she showed me some of the curious, book-like objects she was selling. One was Claire Jeanne Satin's Little Black Book, in which black hand-made pages contained pieces of embedded aluminum that resembled instruments, bristling with menace. My library collected rare Canadiana and 18th-century English literature among its strong suits, and we had representative examples of Kelmscott, Grabhorn and modern fine printing – although nothing like this. But I knew we had to have it. "There's no text," was my first, cautious, unspoken response, yet it spoke so vividly to the viewer's assumptions about what a book is, and what it should/could be. Later, Tony told me that I was the first academic librarian to buy a work from her, and over the years we acquired many more. Adventurous artists' books and bookworks have become a major part of the Peel Library's collections, and are incorporated into teaching in several departments, yet most avidly examined by students and faculty of our Art and Design program. In some classes students must make a book, and they come to us to be exposed to the possibilities, from homemade crafts of the most direct, to remarkable, complex books by Ken Campbell and John Eric Broaddus. Tony eagerly showed me stacks of new books when I visited, waiting patiently for an honest response, sometimes putting forth an observation, but never concerned to make a sale, knowing how carefully I had to watch my expenditures lest I cause too much administrative eye-rolling back home. I wish we'd spent more time, but she was increasingly busy dealing with artists and major museums, yet she always had time for cozy breakfasts amongst Bemelman's playful drawings. My last strong visual memory of Tony was about two years ago, when she and her (new) husband Moore and I had lunch at Les Halles on New Year's Day. Typically, she kept checking to be sure we were getting enough to eat, that we really liked our food, that we'd try some more of hers. My New York will never be the same, nor will my circle of friends.
Bruce Peel Special Collections Librarian
University of Alberta
In 1983 after I graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens, I moved to New York to be an apprentice for Richard Minsky, founder of the Center for Books Arts. In my spare time, I visited galleries showing slides of my installations, prints and artist's books. I met Gracie Mansion and Sir Rodney. He told me about a lady named Tony Zwicker who might be interested in my books. I met her and showed her my Book of Hair, Book of Nude Men & Rubbers and The Elvis Presley Scrapbook. She was incredible sweet and generous. She and her boyfriend, Moore, took me out to eat at an Irish Pub that night. We had a great time.
I left these books with her and within several weeks - to my surprise - she sold The Elvis Presley Scrapbook and then the other two books!
Over the years, she placed my books in wonderful collections, archives and libraries as well as exhibitions. She helped my career in so many ways. I will always be grateful to her. I only regret that I did not create as many books as I had hoped during our partnership of 17 years.
She will remain in my heart as a dear friend. I will always remember that wonderful tinkle in her eyes when she was excited. Like many of the books she sold, she truly was one-of-a-kind.
Tony Zwicker was my client, teacher, mentor, friend, and 'surrogate godmother'. She invited me into a place in the art world that was all the more gentle and upright for her having been a part of it. Sitting across from one another, up to our adam's apples in books, she had me where she wanted me, where she could coax every intimate detail of my life from its hiding place. She encouraged and challenged me; we argued and learned together, drank together, laughed and cried together. She demanded from me strength that I didn't know I had. And through her grace, I was shown how to walk tall in a less than perfect world. Which I will do, if only in her honor. Au revoir, my dear. No one will ever inspire me as you have.
Michael von Uchtrup
New York City
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