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Anne Walker artist book collection

Identifier: MRBC-MS-00114

Scope and Contents

The Anne Walker Collection consists of a collection of her artists' books, letters and related items relative to the artistry of Ms. Walker. The majority of the artists' books were given to the Mortimer Rare Book Collection as a gift from Walker in 2005 in celebration of her graduation from Smith College in 1956, with some of the others coming from other sources. The letters of Michel Butor were also donated by Walker. The other items in the collection are from various sources.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1974-2006


Language of Materials

English and French

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, Anne Walker has retained full ownership of any and all copyrights currently controlled by Walker in these materials. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by Walker, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Anne Walker is a printmaker and painter; she lives in Paris. Walker was born in 1933 in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1955 from Smith College; she spent her junior year in Paris, working at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse. In 1956 she returned to Paris to study with Johnny Friedlaender at his atelier; her first etchings were done there. She has continued to make prints, created etchings, and a number of fine-press books. Walker's graphic work has been exhibited worldwide since 1956 and is in public and private collections in Europe and the United States. Her husband, Bertrand Dorny, is also an artist.

In 1986 she took up painting, using gouache combined with pastel, a technique that has predominated in her work since then. With these materials she began exploring the format of the artist's book, which has allowed her to collaborate with poets and writers whom she admires-Michel Butor, Kenneth Koch and Peter Davison, to name a few. Much of her book work is concerned with the language of color and is characterized by a lyricism-sometimes playful, sometimes elegiac-that pairs well with literature.

Anne Walker has written the following about her artists' books:

“I believe the desire to create images originates in an early passion for pictures and paintings. Some of my fondest memories are of my illustrated childhood books, read over and over again, as much for the pictures as for the words. My dream then was to be an illustrator of children's books. Growing up in the Newton suburbs outside of Boston, where I was born, I was close to the Museum of Fine Arts, where I was enrolled in a Saturday morning art class by parents who always encouraged my interest in drawing, but I soon stopped attending in order to roam the more interesting museum. It was a wonderful introduction to seeing: having little knowledge of art history, I was free to admire or dislike as I wandered. The Oriental art rooms particularly impressed me.”

“Attending Smith College as a studio art major and taking my junior year abroad in Paris, where I was first exposed directly to the many forms of contemporary art, were essential in forming my vision as an artist. My first experiments were with printing techniques. I studied woodcutting at Smith with Seong Moy and etching with Johnny Friedlaender in Paris. Having taken up residence in Paris permanently, I could avail myself of the fine presses and printing studios to make numerous etchings and, most important, my first artist's books. These were made in collaboration with my poet friend Edward Kessler. Later, when I turned to using gouache and pastel, I began the series of 'painted books' which I continue to this day.”

“When conceiving a book, I work in harmony with writers whom I know personally, both French and American. Also, words of certain departed poets who speak to me across time can stimulate the visual pattern behind a composition. It is a question of words evoking images or, in direct collaboration with a poet, images evoking words. Because creatively I'm devoted to inventing landscape equivalences, the accordion form of 'folded paintings' suits my concept of an overall, amost unending piece that becomes a book when folded and can be read page by page, but that can also be viewed as a long picture, like a scroll. In my books I seek to illuminate rather than to illustrate the text, which the author inscribes after I've made the painting. If the poet is no longer living, I print the text myself in simple block letters. The words in the books are placed over and within the painting becoming inseparable from it, a form of intermingling that I try to render among the elements in the accompanying image.”


4.126 linear feet (8 containers)


The collection contains 34 books executed primarily in gouache and pastel by Walker with poetry or lines from various authors living or dead. Poets and writers include Michel Butor, Peter Davison, Emily Dickinson, Edward Kessler, Kenneth Koch, Ron Padgett and Henry David Thoreau. Also included in the collection is correspondence related to the books, exhibition materials, and general publicity on Walker.


This collection is organized into two series:


Processing Information

Processed by Melvin Carlson, Jr., 2006

Anne Walker artist book collection
Finding Aid
Melvin Carlson Jr.
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Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063