Mission and History
The Visual Art Library’s mission is the preservation of art books that document the visual arts of the 20th and 21st century from around the world. The Library’s vision is to create a unique resource for present – and future – artists, art scholarship, and diverse cultural enrichment within our Learning Center.
The founding collection was created by George H. Waterman III in the 1980s. He has been interested in the visual arts since his college years. The result of his effort is a growing Library which now consists of thousands of art related books and ephemera which evolved into the nonprofit Visual Art Library.
VAL is a non-circulating collection that archives artists monographs and biographies, rare books, art journals, auction catalogues, and more. Its scope includes art historical movements and international exhibitions. Curatorial and journalistic approaches are well represented.
The Visual Art Library is particularly important in this digital age because many smaller catalogues and artist’s statements are likely to disappear, as they will not come to the attention of institutions to be recorded. As the digital age evolves and technology changes, it is vital to retain original source materials pertaining to creative endeavors that are formative, and inspirational to the creative process. The Library’s collection offers research opportunities from written words and images that encourage creativity.
As quoted in The Brooklyn Rail: “Waterman’s…collection is a complex web of silences awaiting future completion.” The Library aims to give voice to these silences and become a singularly unique visual art library.
Robert Berlind, painter, teacher and writer, collected art books and catalogues like a true connoisseur….I puzzled over what to do with this vast library (847 volumes), and came across an email from George Waterman introducing his Visual Art Library and knew almost immediately that this could be the place for the volumes of the late Robert Berlind.
Artist, Widow of Robert Berlind New York City
I contributed material from my ongoing collection that I found most referential and/or influential to respective time frames and those having torn down boundaries to expand perceptions within the practice of art.
The Visual Art Library echoes the scholarship, cultural awareness and generous philanthropic nature of its bibliophile founder.
Once upon a time there existed a wonderful collection of art books on the 6th floor of a loft in SoHo. I know because I’ve witnessed it grow over the four decades I have known George Waterman. His collection now lives in the Visual Art Library that he founded in 2012. It is accessible to those who care about art, pleasure, and books. For an artist, a solo show lasts a month – certainly an occasion for a drink. A book properly printed can last as long as those words uttered somewhat cynically by Hamlet. But, ironically, words are all its author had – and always certainly enough.
Artist, New York City