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Artists' Books: The Book as an Art Form

Artists' Books

What is an 'Artist's Book"?

Unlike an art book, catalog or monograph that tend to showcase artworks created in another medium, the term ‘artists’ books’ refers to publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right. These ‘projects for the page’ are generally inexpensive, often produced in large or open editions, and are democratically available. The book is a medium that allows an artist's work to be accessible to a multitude of people in different locations at any given time. While artists’ books can take many forms, there are a few elements that are common across the practice. Understanding a book as an artwork invites a reflection on the properties of the book form itself. Much like any act of reading, an artists’ book is a physical experience that allows a connection with the medium that – while social in its implications – is individual and personal. The artists’ book invites us to hold it and turn through its pages. Whether the contents are visually or linguistically based (often a mix of both), physically moving through an artwork implicates notions of sequence, repetition, juxtaposition, and duration.  Continue reading from Printed Matter

The Origins of Book Art

The first forerunner to contemporary artists' books is probably the British artist William Blake, who worked in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Blake was a poet, painter and printmaker. He wanted to integrate his visual and written work. While Blake produced traditional format books, he was radical in his desire to integrate the text and visuals on each page. He developed a new printing method that allowed for this integration. What is especially notable about Blake is his role as a predecessor of the sentiments expressed by book artists of the 1960's. Blake was "seeking a means of bringing the production of illustrated texts under his own control so that he could become his own publisher, independent of commercial publishers and letterpress printers."   Continue reading from Yale University Library

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From our Collection

Link to The book as art by Wasserman in the catalog
Link to Artists and their books by Marcia Reed and Glenn the catalog
Link to Artists who make books by Andrew Roth in the catalog
Link to Visual chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino in the catalog
Link to Eco books by Terry Taylor in the catalog
Link to An anecdoted topography of chance by Daniel Spoerri in the catalog

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