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Philip Zimmermann started Spaceheater Editions in February of 1979. The name was picked partially serendipitously (from a found electrical supply catalog for electric spaceheaters) and partly as a tip-of-the-hat tribute to Martha Wilson's Franklin Furnace in New York, one of the first alternative spaces to start an archive of artists' books and publication. The name doesn't make nearly as much sense since his move to the extreme heat of Tucson and the Southwest.

Zimmermann attended architecture school at Cornell University for some years then transferred to the fine arts program there, receiving a BFA from Cornell with honors in 1973. He received his MFA in visual and photographic studies from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY in 1980. VSW was started by Joan and Nathan Lyons and offered the master's degree through the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Zimmermann taught at Purchase College, State University of New York, from 1984 to 2008. He is a Professor Emeritus there. In 2008 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, to be closer to his wife, Karen. After his arrival in Tucson, he taught at the University of Arizona in the Graphic Design and Illustration Department (formerly the Visual Communication area), where he was full professor. He retired in January of 2019.

Zimmermann is the son of a US Foreign Service officer and was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He grew up in a number of different cities, including Brussels, Belgium; London, UK; Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; Washington DC; and Lisbon, Portugal. He has also lived in Aix-en-Provence, France.

For a full curriculum vitae in pdf form, please click here.


Personal Artist’s Statement : Philip Zimmermann

The viewer holds a book with his or her two hands, a solo and intimate viewing experience, a dialogue between a single person or viewer and the artist.

The Tate Museum, states: "The term 'new genre public art', coined by the American artist, writer, and educator Suzanne Lacy in 1991, is somewhat ambiguous but generally refers to public art, often activist in nature, and created outside institutional structures in order to engage directly with an audience. Lacy defined new genre public art as being activist, often created outside the institutional structure which brought the artist into direct engagement with the audience while addressing social and political issues." Suzanne Lacy has made many artists’ books and considers that form as a type of new genre art. 

My primary medium is artists' books, and my work fits Suzanne Lacy’s definition perfectly. My work is both socially and culturally activist and political. Artists’ books, including my own, actualize the concept of a medium that exists outside institutions and conventional art galleries and engages directly and intimately with the viewer/audience.

My work tends to come out of personal experience of social and political issues, and is often a way of working out my own fears and angst. That is a fairly common artistic urge, but I think that the artists’ book form is probably the most intimate and perhaps the most perfect form for presenting these concerns by having a direct dialog with another person.

In addition to being a great vehicle for communicating directly to an audience, artists’ books have the wonderful advantage of being time-based like video and film. Static pictures on a wall seem an impoverished way of making an artistic statement after one works with sequence, rhythm, movement, translucency, and the narrative arc. I know I am biased: I have been in love with books ever since I was a small child, but the medium is so rich with possibilities that it is hard to go back to working in any other artistic medium.

Even though the narrative content is usually personal as well as political, I am also very interested in process, and that also figures into my work, specifically the mechanics of various photo-mechanical and print media such as offset, HP Indigo, inkjet and screen printing. I love ink on paper. Although my MFA is in photography, I am really only interested in photography as it is used in books and narrative.

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