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Visit the "Robert R. Reid: ‘Allied Arts’ Affirmative" Exhibition

Special Collections and Rare Books is pleased to announce the following exhibition produced by the CAUSA Research Curators, and located on the 3rd floor and 7th floor of the W.A.C. Bennett Library (SFU Burnaby).

Robert R. Reid: "Allied Arts" Affirmative

A fifth generation Canadian (b.1927), Robert R. Reid, at age fourteen, taught himself to operate a ‘hand press’ –so as to channel his absorbing interest in the practicalities of letterpress printing.

His subsequent association with architects, landscape designers, poets, graphic artists (and editors for magazines and journals) has become emblematic of a post-WWII ‘Allied Arts’ Movement in Canada.

In 1949, in an introduction to the first ‘artisanal’ private press book printed in Canada -- his redesigned edition of Alfred Waddington’s The Fraser Mines Vindicated (1858) -- Reid remarks: “Fine books have literary value … but it is their value as works of art which distinguishes them from other books.” In 1962, he became the first ‘design practitioner’ to be awarded a Canada Council Visual Arts Award.

Having taught printing and graphic design at the Vancouver School of Art [now Emily Carr University of Art and Design], from 1957 to 1962, Reid moved to Montreal. He functioned, there, as Director of Design and Production for McGill University Press. Subsequently, before returning to Vancouver in 1997, he remained active as a freelance designer in New Haven and New York City,

Robert R. Reid’s current practice sustains a digital-experimental typographer’s teleportation presence –and a mindful/regenerative global village aesthetic. In that regard, the present exhibition presents an assemblage of documents generated between 1949 and 2017. Components of the present exhibition will be intermittently replaced (and/or rearranged), in order to maximize the scope of an exploratory curatorial initiative. 

Reid typographical image: Hope is the opposite of security. It is the opposite of naive optimism. The category of danger is always within it. Hope is not confidence. If it could not be disappointed it would not be hope. Ernst Bloch (1964).

Robert R. Reid, TYPOGRAPHICAL IMAGE. Digital design, 2016.

Cover of book: Emily Carr: The Innocence of Trees

THE INNOCENCE OF TREES: EMILY CARR + AGNES MARTIN, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, 2010.
Designed by Robert R. Reid (Vancouver), this publication was supported by the Doris Shadbolt Endowment Fund for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mao Tse-Tung: The Swimmer; The River.

Robert R. Reid, TYPOGRAPHICAL IMAGE, digital design. 2017. [Included in poet John Newlove's first book, GRAVE SIRS --as published at the private press of Robert R. Reid and Takao Tanabe-- this now  'revivified' text functions as an augmentation of the current SFU Library exhibition.]

About the curators

Developing from affiliations with the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research (as  initiated by Joseph Beuys and Heinrich Böll), CAUSA – Collective for Advanced and Unified Studies in the Visual Arts – aims to develop autonomous scholarly analysis and interpretation of visual culture (including problems of intelligibility) within specific historical contexts. CAUSA functions in association with a 'global village' network of  independent and institutional scholars – in tandem with a pluralistic community of socially engaged contemporary artists.


January to March 2017


W.A.C. Bennett Library [SFU Burnaby], 3rd floor and 7th floor [Special Collections and Rare Books, Room 7100]

Contact for further information

Melanie Hardbattle, Ph: 778-782-8842 Email: