UCLA Library Department of Special Collections|
December 2001 - January 2002|
Ricky Jay and the Magic of Books
An Exhibition of Books by Ricky Jay, Master Conjurer, Actor, Curator, & Scholar, displayed upon the occasion of his appearance in the Department of Special Collections, December 10, 2001.
Ricky Jay is one of the world's great sleight-of-hand artists and is well known as an actor, particularly for his appearances in the films of David Mamet. He is also a distinguished writer, historian, and curator of the history of conjuring literature, sense perceptions, and unusual entertainments. His publications include Cards as weapons, Learned pigs & fireproof women, and The magic magic book. He prepared an exhibition and accompanying catalogue in 1990 for the American Antiquarian Society entitled Many mysteries unraveled: Conjuring literature in America 1786 - 1874 and is a contributor on related subjects to The Cambridge Guide to American Theater and a forthcoming edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Jay is also a co-founder of the biennial Conference on Magic History and former curator of the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts.
Between 1994 and 2000, he wrote, co-designed, and co-published Jay's Journal of Anomalies, a journal devoted to the history of bizarre entertainers, imposters, human abnormalities, and myriad curiosities and wonders. As in his other publications, the journal was illustrated with numberous images from his collection. This year, all of the issues have been reprinted and collected in one volume published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Department of Special Collections had the pleasure of hosting an afternoon with Ricky Jay on December 10, 2001. The Department wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, which kindly agreed to lend books and journals by Jay for this exhibition.
Jay’s Journal of Anomalies: conjurers, cheats, hustlers, hoaxsters, pranksters, jokesters, imposters, pretenders, sideshow showmen, armless calligraphers, mechanical marvels, popular entertainments.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
The original issues of Jay’s Journal of Anomalies, published between 1994 and 2000 and now out-of-print, are considered collector’s items. This recently published collection reprints all sixteen issues along with new material, additional illustrations, an afterward, and an index. Taken in its entirety, the volume is a substantive examination of the history of bizarre entertainment, curiosities, abnormalities, and wonders.
Jay’s Journal of Anomalies.
Between 1994 and 2000, sixteen issues of Jay’s Journal of Anomalies
were published by Ricky Jay and the Los Angeles antiquarian booksellers William and Victoria Dailey. The journal was printed letterpress by Patrick Reagh in Glendale and designed by Mr. Reagh and Mr. Jay. Recalling the history of the journal, Mr. Jay recalled, "The major catalyst for the journal was the pursuit of a higher standard of illustration, type, and paper than the mainstream publishers of my earlier work were able to provide. I wished to do justice to materials collected over long years in my areas of interest . . . The idea of a small-run fine-press book intrigued me less than a periodical with high production values -- a magazine printed letterpress on mold-made paper, with tipped in color plates to present the illustrations I cherished with dignity and clarity. An anomaly devoted to anomalies."
Los Angeles: W. & V. Dailey Rare Books, 1994-2000.
Learned pigs & fireproof women.
New York: Villard Books, 1986.
Learned pigs & fireproof women received critical and popular acclaim upon its publication in 1986. It was voted one of the outstanding books of the year by the Theater Library Association and was deemed one of the notable books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. John Gross in the New York Times considered the book to be "a delightful excursion into some of the most exotic regions of show business . . . It is not only its range that makes Learned pigs & fireproof women an exceptional book, but its humor and its learning."
The magic magic book is both a historical examination and a tribute to the "blow book", a trick book which contains several different series of images.
Depending on how the book is held and the pages are "flipped," different sequences of images will appear and disappear. Published by the Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum in an edition of 300 copies, it consists of two books: one volume of illustrated text by Ricky Jay describing the history of the blow book and a second volume which is a blow book. The latter contains more than forty prints created for this project by the artists Vija Celmins, Jane Hammond, Glenn Ligon, Philip Taaffe, and William Wegman.
The magic magic book.
New York: Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1995.
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