For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


Free Library’s collection of more than 1,300 Fraktur pieces to serve as inspiration for the simultaneous exhibitions

The Free Library of Philadelphia is proud to present Framing Fraktur, a three-month celebration of the historic Pennsylvania German art form running from March 2 – June 14, 2015. In addition to bringing fraktur to life with a wide range of public programming, the Free Library will mount two exhibitions devoted to fraktur: Quill & Brush: Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture, a historic exhibition featuring original fraktur works along with Pennsylvania German artifacts, manuscripts, and ephemera, and Word & Image: Contemporary Artists Connect to Fraktur, a contemporary exhibition featuring the work of seven international artists. Major support for Framing Fraktur has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, American Airlines Cargo, Christie’s, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation.


Fraktur is a manuscript-based folk art created by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania beginning in 1683. Used for birth and baptismal certificates, writing samples, music books, and religious texts, fraktur were exuberantly decorated with tulips, hearts, angels, unicorns, eagles, and other motifs. The Free Library’s Rare Book Department boasts more than 1,300 pieces of hand-drawn and printed fraktur as well as important manuscripts, books, broadsides, and mixed-media objects. As works of art, fraktur are comparable to fine illuminated manuscripts, and yet they are essentially domestic and personal documents.


Framing Fraktur explores the relationship between traditional fraktur and the work of seven contemporary artists presented through the two simultaneous exhibitions this spring. Word & Image will feature drawings, paintings, woodblock prints, and embroideries by Marian Bantjes (Canada), Anthony Campuzano (United States), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), Elaine Reichek (United States), Bob and Roberta Smith (England), and Gert and Uwe Tobias (Romania/Germany). Quill & Brush will provide current research and interpretation of major examples of historic fraktur and related objects. Whereas discussion of fraktur has often been confined to the folk art genre, Framing Fraktur reinterprets and reframes traditional fraktur through a contemporary lens that is international in scope, multi-generational, and diverse in content, medium, and formal approach. Each of the contemporary artists uses text or type as a visual component of their work to convey particular subject matter about his/her own culture and identity.


Framing Fraktur will be mounted at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street beginning on March 2, 2015, and is free and open to the public. Quill & Brush, curated by Lisa Minardi, will appear in the Rare Book Department while pieces from Word & Image, curated by Judith Tannenbaum, will appear throughout the building. Extensive online content, including digital exhibitions, timelines, a calendar of events, and other Fraktur-related material will be available in the spring of 2015 at



The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850