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A Surreal Archive: The Young-Mallin Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

A limited-edition artist book by Tammy Nguyen, A Surreal Archive: The Young-Mallin Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is inspired by an astonishing archive of Surrealist photographs, correspondence, ephemera, and artwork that has been recently acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It features a pop-up dollhouse at the center (the original dollhouse was once knocked over by David Sedaris while cleaning Young-Mallin’s apartment), with elements to discover and explore in hidden panels and envelopes, and dramatic touches such as lace, feathers, and fake hair. Nguyen has invested the work with a Surrealist imagination inspired by the richness of the collection, which highlights key figures in the Surrealist movement and other 20th-century cultural luminaries, including Leonora Carrington, Bill Copley, Robert Warner, Man Ray, M. F. K. Fisher, Carol Janeway, Ossip Zadkine, Dorothea Tanning, Yves Tanguy, and Kay Sage.

An accompanying booklet features an artist statement by Nguyen, a brief history of Young-Mallin’s role as a collector and the archive’s significance to the museum, and personal reflections by two of Judith Young-Mallin’s longtime friends: Mark Polizzotti, publisher and editor-in-chief at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and playwright Glen Berger.

Nguyen commented, “When I imagined the original home of this archive— Judith's place— I also imagined the many parties that happened amidst their presence. Champagne, laughter, and then probably some whiskey. As someone trips on a snake or gets a red kiss on their face, worlds are inverted. This book tries to distill that by merging the friends at Judith's with the many characters— from cartoons to animals— that live vicariously in this archive.”

The artist book and booklet, enclosed together in a velvet-trimmed box, is available in an edition of 250 copies, via the Philadelphia Museum of Art Store.

A Surreal Archive: The Young-Mallin Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art ($60) is a publication of Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is designed and produced by Tammy Nguyen, Passenger Pigeon Press, New York.

Publication Date: November 2018.

About Judith Young-Mallin
Judith Young-Mallin is an accomplished art collector, cultural historian, archivist, interviewer, author, and cook. First and foremost, however, she is an expert on Surrealism in New York. Noting that she too has a “slanted perspective on things,” Young-Mallin felt a kinship with these artists and the way they “kept their eyes open and looked at things differently.” Over the years, she made a point of meeting many of them, including luminaries such as Carol Janeway, Leonora Carrington, Noma Copley, Juliet Man Ray, and Dorothea Tanning. Along the way there were innumerable conversations, interviews, exhibition openings, art acquisitions, parties, and very memorable meals at her West Village apartment—a work of art in itself.

About Tammy Nguyen
Born in 1984, Tammy Nguyen received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 2007 and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2013. A multimedia artist working with geopolitics, science, and less known histories, she is founder of the Passenger Pigeon Press. Her work has been collected by Yale University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, MIT Library, and the Museum of Modern Art Library.

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