Artists" Books, Paper and Glass
Spring is upon us. The sun shines, the rain pours down and the trees and grass turn green. It is a time of renewal and a time to share new works.
What is an artists' book? A question asked often and one with no definitive answer. Here are a few interpretations:
Smithsonian Libraries and Archives:
An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of “book” as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object.
What truly makes an artist’s book is the artist’s intent, and artists have used the book as inspiration in a myriad of ways and techniques, from traditional to the experimental. The book could be made through fine press printing or hand-crafted, the pages illustrated with computer-generated images or cheap photocopies; books become sculptures, tiny and gargantuan; books were sliced up and reconfigured made from all kinds of materials with unconventional objects incorporated in unique or limited editions, or produced in multiple copies. With all sorts of ideas behind them, artists continue to challenge the idea, content and structure of the traditional book.
ARTIST BOOK #1: Cupertino di libri di alta moda/Couvertures de livres de Haute Couture
This artist book was inspired by Jhumpa Lahiri's book: 'The Clothing of Books." When looking for a book to read, I came upon this little book and what first caught my eye was the title. Since I make books, I found the title compelling and wanted to read more. Then the beautiful blue colour enticed me further and I noticed the stitching on the cover. This is the second book I have made, that has been inspired by Ms Lahiri's book. I used a beautiful German made paper for this book and envelope.
In this artist book I have combined pictures of Ms Lahiri's book, the dust jacket's I made for it, based on her words, and book covers that I have made over time for my journals and written books.
The title, in Italian, is for Ms Lahiri, since she moved to Italy to learn the language and the culture, and in French because when I think about beautifully dressing a book I think of hand crafted Haute Couture. I have used Google Translate for these titles, and if incorrect, they are like the brand names on knock offs, which are inspired by original works of art, whatever they may be.
Otis College of Art and Design
“Simply stated, artists’ books are works of art in book (or book like) form. An artists’ book may be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece but it might also be produced in an edition. It may be letterpress printed using handset metal or photopolymer plates but it might also be printed offset, mimeographed, photocopied, written by hand, or created using online self-publishing companies It might incorporate unusual materials like soap, food, or LEGOs Sometimes it’s produced as a codex and will look like a book but it might be a scroll, set of computer punched cards or sculptural piece. This wide variety of form makes a single definition hard to come by, but in almost every case, the appearance and production of the work is determined by the artist.”
ARTIST BOOK #2: Macarons
These little delights were inspired, not so much by the delicious macarons, but the empty containers, once the macarons had been eaten.
These little sweets have been made from repurposed books that I read. Once cut out, I made the covers with light weight book board and covered them with decorative papers and printed photographs. I stitched each macaron together and hand painted the edge of each one similar to the macarons that were in the containers
Yale University Library
“Books which have been produced by artists are distinct from other kinds of art publishing in that they’re not tied to the conventions of literature of criticism or illustration. The principle theory of artists’ books is that instead of being about art they’re rather books which are intended as artworks themselves.
Taking the structure of the book beyond everyday expectations is often a goal of the artists’ book. Other important aspects of artists’ books are: the use of cross-disciplinary media, the production of the work through an accessible (usually inexpensive) means, and the reaction against the established art world/art market.
In fact this confluence of art forms had affected artists’ books to such a degree that they have become characteristically and foremost multidisciplinary…this tendency towards cross disciplines also allows an artist to belong to no explicit discipline while referring to many.”
ARTIST BOOK #3: Dining With Madam LaFlam
Many years ago I was playing with a stuffed toy and a clown I had made, wondering what I could do with them. Inspiration hit and I took some photos of the little story that unfolded.
I did not connect the sections, but left them to be displayed as little vignettes; each one with two photos; each section telling a part of the story. I did decorative paper cutting on the borders of each section.
Johanna Drucker: The Century of Artists’ Books
“A folded fan, a set of blocks, words embedded in Lucite: artists’ books are a singular form of imaginative expression.”
“…what distinguishes an artist’s book from any other publication is its ability to destroy any preconceived ideas regarding a books’ essence, form or function.”
BOOK #4: Seeing The Tree in The Forest
This book involves hand cut papers and photographs of trees. I used a combination of papers: Chiyogami for the outer covers, India silk paper for the paste downs, sketch paper for the paper cut trees, mi-teintes for the border of the paper cuttings and India hemp paper for the photographs.
I discovered the best way to appreciate this book is by slowly turning the pages. As they are turned the view through the paper cuts change until the photo behind it or the one it is moving toward is revealed and/or concealed.
I like the the rough edges of the hemp paper, like the bark of a tree. The mix and combination of papers and colours are complementary to the photos rather than overpowering them: light and shade, white and colour. The green silk paste downs add a gentle texture to the tactile nature of the book.