Franklin Furnace Archive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. is an arts organization based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York that serves to preserve and encourage the production of avant-garde art, particularly forms such as performance art that are under-represented by arts institutions due to their ephemeral nature or politically unpopular content.[1]

Franklin Furnace Archive @ MoMA
Artists book bibliography


Founded by Martha Wilson in 1976 as an archive for artist books and variable media, Franklin Furnace gathered the largest collection of artist books in the United States before 1993 when most of the collection, or 13,500 books, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.[2][3] It was first created at a storefront in Tribeca in Manhattan. [4] It was established as an "alternate" space for artists to "find an audience outside of the mercantile, aesthetic, and tempermental hassles of the gallery-museum circuit."[5] Franklin Furnace was one of the first organizations to support and advocate for artist books, which today are still under-recognized and under-valued, especially by larger art and culture institutions.[6]

Franklin Furnace was on the front lines during the “culture wars” of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1984, the Morality Action Committee claimed that 500 children per day were exposed to pornography in the Carnival Knowledge show; Franklin Furnace’s 1992-93 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program grant was rescinded by the National Council on the Arts; and in 1996, the Christian Action Network carried a coffin up the steps of the Capitol to call for the death of Franklin Furnace and the NEA.[6][7]

Although today it is a “virtual institution,” using its website as its public face, in the 1970s and 1980s Franklin Furnace held performances, installations, and exhibits in its performance space at 112 Franklin Street in Lower Manhattan.[5]Organized by Jacki Apple, the Curator of Exhibitions and Performances from 1976-1980, the exhibitions included sculptural books, conceptual books, handmade paper books, photo/text books, painters’ books, fiber and textile books, object books, stretching the definition of book as far as possible. Apple also initiated the bi-weekly performance series focused on text-based works.[8][9] In 1990, the Franklin Street performance space was closed down, and Franklin Furnace moved to the Financial District before settling into 80 Hanson Place in Brooklyn, New York from 2004 to December 2014 at which point it moved to its current headquarters at Pratt Institute campus.[2]

Current projects[edit]

Franklin Furnace Fund[edit]

Every year, Franklin Furnace awards grants of $2000–10,000 to local, national, and international contemporary artists selected by a rotating panel of artists. In 1985, Franklin Furnace started the Fund for Performance Art with the support of the Jerome Foundation. In the spring of 2008, the fund was expanded to include the internet as an art medium and venue. Today the grants most often support performance art as well as “variable media,” artist books, installation pieces, and electronic media. In June 2009 the peer review panel awarded $64,000 to eleven artists selected from among 424 proposals.

Sequential Art for Kids[edit]

Since 1985, Franklin Furnace places contemporary working artists to teach art in public schools. After a ten-year partnership with P.S. 52 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, Franklin Furnace currently collaborates with P.S. 20, the Clinton Hill Elementary School in Brooklyn.

The Unwritten History Project[edit]

After Franklin Furnace’s collection of artist books was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, the organization reinvented itself as a “virtual institution” focused on its online resources. With a National Endowment for the Humanities grant awarded in 2006, Franklin Furnace digitized and published online its event records from its first decade.[2] With the help of this grant, Franklin Furnace began collaboration with ARTstor in order to make its event records available to the colleges and universities who use ARTstor’s database as an educational resource.[10] In August 2010, Franklin Furnace received a second grant from the NEH, matched by the Booth Ferris Foundation, to digitize and publish its second decade of event records on its website.



  1. ^ Klein, Alvin (25 July 1993). "'Too Shocking' Sends Urgent Messages". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Heddaya, Mostafa (11 December 2014). "Franklin Furnace, Performance Art Pioneer, Relocates to Pratt Under Long-Term Agreement". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  3. ^ Leimbach, Dulcie (1 September 1997). "For an Avant-Garde Center, An End and a Beginning". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  4. ^ A FRANKLIN FURNACE ‘NEST’, NY Times, November 7, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Hess, Thomas B. "A Tip from the Bookmakers." New York. 13 June 1977. p. 92-93.
  6. ^ a b Ault, Julie; Social Text Collective; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.) (2002). Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985: A Cultural Politics Book for the Social Text Collective: the Drawing Center, New York. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-816-63793-5. OCLC 317915788. Retrieved 11 November 2015. Catalog of a 1996 exhibition entitled: "Cultural economies: histories from the alternative arts movement, NYC" held at The Drawing Center, New York
  7. ^ Haitman, Diane (3 March 1992). "Highways, Franklin Furnace Receive New NEA Grants". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. ^ Rachieff, Melissa. Do It Yourself: Histories of Alternatives, Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces 1960 to 2010 , ed. by Lauren Rosati & Mary Anne Staniszweski, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 2012
  9. ^ Apple, Jacki (Spring 2005). "A Different World: A Personal History of Franklin Furnace". TDR. 49 (1): 36–54. JSTOR 4488618
  10. ^ "Contemporary Art (Franklin Furnace Archives)". Artstor. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ Apple, Jacki (Spring 2005). "A Different World: A Personal History of Franklin Furnace". TDR. 49 (1): 36–54. JSTOR 4488618.
  12. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]