UK Happenings

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Celebration of Artist, Craftsman Victor Hammer

self-portrait painting of Victor Hammer
As an artist and craftsman, Victor Hammer worked in Vienna, Paris, London and Florence before making a home here in Lexington.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 12, 2019) Seventy years ago, Victor Hammer emigrated to the United States. As an artist and craftsman, he worked in Vienna, Paris, London and Florence before making a home here in Lexington. This spring the University of Kentucky will honor his work and influence April 19-20.

University of Kentucky Libraries' Special Collections Research Center and the King Library Press will offer several events focusing on Hammer and his work. The first is a spring lecture, "Victor Hammer: Artist and Craftsman," which will begin 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, in the Margaret I. King Library Building's Great Hall. Paul Evans Holbrook, director of the King Library Press, will present the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

King Library Press will hold its spring workshop, "It's in the Mail," 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 20, at the King Library Press. Participants will make a variety of handmade notecards, postcards and envelopes by using the extensive collection of wood cuts, line cuts, photographic plates and engravings in the press collection. All necessary materials, a variety of papers, tools and equipment are provided at the workshop. The cost of the workshop is $45. For more information and to reserve a space in the workshop, please call Paul Holbrook at 859-608-9623.

In conjunction with the lecture and workshop, an exhibition of books and printed ephemera is being presented to mark the 70th anniversary of Hammer's arrival in Lexington. The exhibit showcases his influence on the book arts in the Bluegrass and will be on display in the Great Hall through the end of April.

Hammer was a gifted artist and craftsman, who worked with many mediums of art. Although he primarily painted tempera on gesso panel and portraiture, he excelled in the arts of metal engraving, woodcut and mezzotint. Among his many works, he crafted furniture, sculpted in bronze and marble, and built a small chapel for patrons in Alsace, France.

In addition, Hammer greatly contributed to the book arts of printing, bookbinding, calligraphy and typography. He created five uncial typefaces and his Florentine wooden common press is still used today at the King Library Press.

Holbrook, who started studying printing with Victor's wife, Carolyn Hammer, in the mid-1970s, has worked at the Stamperia del Santuccio ("The Press of the Little Saint") and The Anvil Press. Since 1988, he has served as the director of the King Library Press and currently works as the bibliographer for the Victor and Carolyn Hammer estate.

The King Library Press, founded in 1956, is devoted to the tradition of fine printing. Located on UK's campus in the King Library, the King Library Press produces books and broadsides.

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at UK Libraries sustains the Commonwealth’s memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the SCRC provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. SCRC materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. UK Libraries SCRC is the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Initiative and ExploreUK.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety and the Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for.” We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.