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Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Brooklyn, NY

Franklin Furnace was founded in 1976 by artist Martha Wilson to champion ephemeral forms neglected by mainstream arts institutions. Franklin Furnace’s mission is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content. We have developed a place in art history for artists’ books, temporary installation art, and performance art, and researched the history of the contemporary artists’ book. Most profoundly, Franklin Furnace has had an indelible impact upon art by launching the careers of artists whose work has influenced art and cultural discourse in this country; Franklin Furnace’s niche remains the bottom of the food chain, premiering artists in New York who later emerge as art world stars. The organization set upon a course of substantial change in 1993 when its collection of artists’ books published internationally after 1960, the largest in the United States, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During its 20th anniversary season, Franklin Furnace reinvented itself as a “virtual institution,” not identified with its real estate but rather with its resources, made accessible by electronic and other means. During its 30th anniversary season, Franklin Furnace received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and signed a collaboration agreement with ARTstor to digitize and publish on the web documentation of events it presented and produced, with the goal of embedding the value of ephemeral art practice in art and cultural history.