Franklin Furnace was founded in 1976 by artist Martha Wilson as an artist-run space and archive dedicated to artists' publishing, performance art, and other time-based media. Franklin Furnace emerged to support artists working with publishing as a supposedly "democratic" medium, and served as a primary archive for artists' books.
Franklin Furnace presented performances and exhibitions at its downtown New York space from 1976 until 1990. Among those artists who were given the opportunity to mount their first New York shows at Franklin Furnace are Ida Applebroog, Guillaume Bijl, Dara Birnbaum, Willie Cole, James Coleman, Jenny Holzer, Tehching Hsieh, Barbara Kruger, Matt Mullican, Shirin Neshat, and Krysztof Wodiczko; while among the performers who got their start here are Eric Bogosian, David Cale, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Karen Finley, Robbie McCauley, Theodora Skipitares, Michael Smith, and Paul Zaloom. Additionally, Franklin Furnace's performance art program has enabled more established artists like Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Jennifer Bartlett, Lee Breuer, Richard Foreman, Joan Jonas, William Pope.L, and William Wegman to experiment in ways that would be inappropriate for mainstream venues that attract larger audiences. Franklin Furnace's exhibition program has included many historically notable exhibitions of time-based art of an ephemeral nature -- exhibitions on Cubist books and prints, for example, on Fluxus, or Russian Samizdat art -- critically celebrated exhibitions that have contributed to art historical scholarship.
In 1993, the Franklin Furnace Artists' Book Collection was acquired by the MoMA Library. MoMA holds the second copies of all artists' books in the Franklin Furnace Collection, whereas Franklin Furnace maintains its own collection. In 2014, the Franklin Furnace Archive relocated to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Established in 1985, the Franklin Furnace Fund provides yearly grants to emerging artists working in the field of performance art.
- The Flue, 1980-89. Magazine published by Franklin Furnace as a record of events and site for original artworks.
- Back in Time with Time-Based Works: Artists’ Books at Franklin Furnace, 1976–1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016-17. Curated by David Senior and Martha Wilson.
- Toni Sant, Franklin Furnace and the Spirit of the Avant Garde: A History of the Future, Bristol: Intellect, 2011.
- Edward M. Gómez, "Franklin Furnace at 40: Still Radical After All These Years", Hyperallergic, 15 Apr 2017.
- Official website
- Event archive
- Franklin Furnace Artists' Book Collection, MoMA Library
- Performing Franklin Furnace exhibition, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Feb-Apr 2015. Brochure.