Press Release

The New Five Foot Shelf
April 28 - May 28, 2005

Texas Gallery
2012 Peden Street
Houston, TX 77019

"Thus the life of a collector manifests, a dialectical tension between the poles of disorder and order. Naturally his existence is tied to many things as well: to a very mysterious relationship to ownership..; also, to a relationship to objects which does not emphasize their functional, utilitarian value - that is, their usefulness - but studies and loves them as the scene, the stage, of their fate. The most profound enchantment for the collector is the locking of individual items within a magic circle in which they are frozen as the final thrill, the thrill of acquisition, passes over them. Everything remembered and thought, everything conscious, becomes the pedestal, the frame, the base, the lock of his property. The period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former ownership - for a true collector, the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object."

Walter Benjamin: "Unpacking My Library", 1931

Texas Gallery is pleased to announce an installation by Allen Ruppersberg - The New Five Foot Shelf. Composed of posters and books, The New Five Foot Shelf visually recreates in true to life scale the artist's former New York studio as well as a reference library that recreates the trajectory of the artists thoughts as creator and collector. The 50 books in the set are on the exterior exact replicas of the 1910 Harvard Classics "Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf of Books" which was offered at the time as the essential reading of any cultured person. However, in these facisimiles, the interior texts have been completely altered by the artist with his own fractured and re-arranged narratives that trace his own creative process. Tellingly, there are also inserts that are reproductions of various historical artists obituaries. The entire installation is an object that is a conceptual and concrete architectural autobiography of the artist. The viewer is invited to put himself in the artist's place.

Since the early 1970s, Ruppersberg has made art about reading, texts, writing styles - appropriating material from classical as well as popular sources and evolving his own literary voice. In the past, he has drawn upon sources such as T.S. Eliot's letters, the script pages of Raymond Chandler, the surrealist texts of Raymond Roussel and the punk rock posters posted on the walls of downtown New York. He has mined images from pulp fiction book covers, vintage postcards and illustrations from classic literary works. Ruppersberg works in a romantic and poetic mood, re-examining words for their true meaning, trying to find the answer to big questions as summed up in his series "The Secret of Life and Death" while finding visual equivalents with installations, performances, and videos of what has traditionally been presented in text alone. What has been discarded, that which is ephemeral, is used by the artist to give new meaning to "the big picture".

The exhibition also includes drawings by the artist and a limited edition jigsaw puzzle based on the installation. "The New Five Foot Shelf" can also be seen as an online project by the artist sponsored by Fredericka Hunter, Ian Glennie and the Dia Art Foundation at

Allen Ruppersberg has exhibited at the Texas Gallery since 1976. Most recently his work was seen in Houston at the Rice University Art Gallery, in November, 2004 in the exhibition "The Singing Posters" based on Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". Working continuously between Los Angeles, New York and Europe Ruppersberg will be the subject of a retrospective in 2005 at the Dusseldorf Kunsthalle, Germany which will travel to other venues internationally.

For further information, please contact Nancy Douthey.

Texas Gallery
2012 Peden
Houston, TX 77019
713.524.1593 (tel)
713.524.0534 (fax)