Seeing and “The Eye of the Imagination”: Fantasy, Surrealism, and Horror in the Clarence John Laughlin Book Collection
July 2 – September 21, 2018
in Upper and Lower Main Galleries
LSU Libraries Special Collections presents the exhibition, Seeing and “The Eye of the Imagination”: Fantasy, Surrealism and Horror in the Clarence John Laughlin Book Collection. On view from July 2 – September 21, 2018 at Hill Memorial Library at LSU, the exhibition features a broad selection of highly visual printed works which represent the range and depth of the Laughlin Book Collection.
Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985) was a New Orleans writer, photographer, and book collector. His consistent preoccupation with the metaphysical fueled his imagination and creativity. His works always included both words and images, one informing the other. Laughlin often wrote about his personal creative process, driven to share the transformative and heightened sense of reality he experienced. He took great interest in exploring the inner reality of subconscious thought, especially in relation to his work.
Best known for the surreal photographs of architectural decay in his seminal work, “Ghosts Along the Mississippi,” Clarence John Laughlin considered himself, first and foremost, to be a book collector. Laughlin eventually amassed an extensive library of over 32,000 books meant to inform and enhance the creation of art. Acquired in 1985 with support from the Friends of the LSU Libraries, the Clarence John Laughlin Book Collection mirrors the eclectic interests of its creator, measuring equal parts fine art, fantasy, the occult and science fiction. Books pertaining to his particular interest and ideas about “seeing” and alternative realities are well represented in the collection and are explored within the exhibition.
Seeing and “The Eye of the Imagination” is free and open to the public. Visit lib.lsu.edu/special or call (225) 578-6544 for hours of operation and directions.
Images: Selections from the Clarence John Laughlin Book Collection. Top row: Zombie by Rose London; The Colour Out of Space written by H. P. Lovecraft, illustrated by Virgil Finlay; Zoom Magazine, Paris edition. Middle row: Laughlin’s annotated copy of The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Bottom row: Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury; pouchoir illustration by Yan B. Dyl from Henri de Regnier’s Le Miracle du Fil; cover of the 1948 edition of Laughlin’s Ghosts Along the Mississippi.