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Pop-ups and Paperfolding on Display

In-your-face pages take books to a whole new level

Posted 08.08.16 by Aaron Blickenstaff

Pop-up of the god Anubis, from "Gods & Heroes" by Matthew Reinhart (BL 312 .R45 2010 Cage.)

According to Helen Hiebert's Playing with Pop-Ups (TT 870 .H51735 2014 Stacks), "pop ups and moveables have a surprisingly long history. Some of the earliest moveables were created in the thirteenth century..." For most of their history, moveables were didactic and geared towards adult readers. It was not until the nineteenth century that children's pop-ups became popular and mass manufacture began.

Ernest Nister was one of the notable early children's pop-up publishers, implementing pull tabs and dissolving images into his folds. Decker Library has two reproductions of his work in our special collections Playtime Delights: An Antique Pop-Up Book (PZ 8.3 .A17 1993 Materials in Special Collection) and Revolving Pictures: A Reproduction from an Antique Book (PZ 8.3 .N63 R39 1979 Materials in Special Collections) showcasing these late nineteenth century innovations.

Pop-ups as we know them (and the term itself) did not emerge until the 1930s when paper engineering in books, greeting cards and advertisements expanded rapidly. Global economic depression followed by protracted wars made pop-up manufacture scarce. Revival began in the 1960s as artists and publishers were able to coordinate large scale concepts and projects.

This exhibit includes nearly 50 years of pop-up publications, including Andy Warhol's Index (N6537.W28 A8 1967 Materials in Special Collections), numerous pop-up renditions of famous artists' and authors', work as well as unique items from our Artist's Book Collection. One of our newest acquisitions, Game of Thrones: A Pop-up Guide to Westeros (PN1992.77 .G36 R45 2014 Materials in Special Collections) exemplifies the intricacy and innovation of which paper engineers are currently capable.

Decker Library also has many manuals and guides on making pop-ups so feel free to check them out and get folding!

Image Information:
This page: Gods & heroes by Matthew Reinhart (BL 312 .R45 2010 Cage.) Photo by Meredith Moore.
Thumbnail: Baltimore Breakups by Julia Arredondo (Zines Collection.) Photo by Meredith Moore.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

This page was last updated on 08/08/2016.