Bixler Library is developing a collection relating to artists’ books, and you can see some of these materials in the current book display, “Artists’ Books: Selections from the Bixler Library Collection.” A select bibliography has been prepared to accompany the Bixler Library Display. Select Bibliography
(Left) Riva Castleman’s A Century of Artists Books (Museum of Modern Art, 1994) was one of the first comprehensive exhibitions and accounts reflecting the duality of the book and art object.
What are artists’ books?
Artists’ books defy a single definition, but generally an artist’s book is readily identified because the artist uses the book form, (considered in a broad sense), as the primary mode of expression. Artists’ books are often unconventional works that come into being as a book. Pictured left, J. Meejin Yoon’s Absence is “both a book and a sculptural object. Absence is a memorial to the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Yoon…created a non-architectural, non site-specific space of remembrance: a portable personal memorial in the form of book.” Artist’s website
Artists’ books range from inexpensive multiples to one-of-a-kind artifacts and make use of every imaginable design, production and reproduction technology. They take a wide variety of forms, such as zines, pop-up books, photobooks, or broadsides, featuring unusual bindings, fore-edge paintings, accordion folds, vibrant typography or illustrations, fine art photography and printing techniques, or sculptural elements
(Below, Left) Artists Enrique Chagoya and Guillermo Gómez-Peña collaborated on the artists’ book Codex Espagnliensis. This “post-Columbian Spanglish CODEX is a minute contribution to the creation of a new Chicano/Mexicano aesthetic.” Moving Arts Press/Gómez-Peña
(Below, Right) Fore-edge painting is a time-honored technique associated with antiquarian books, to reveal visual stories via paintings on the edges of the book pages. Contemporary art publications also utilize this technique to enhance the design, impact and to draw the reader into the contents within, as demonstrated by JR: Can Art Change the World (Phaidon, 2015)
Academic conferences, artists’ book fairs, journal articles, and books about artist’s books abound, and colleges like Colby are teaching artist’s books in the studio, studying them in the classroom, and collecting them in their libraries.
Margaret Ericson, Arts Librarian