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Books and Prints

I thought this post from the artcrit listserv might interest some on the list...


Return-Path: owner-artcrit@xxxxxxxx
>Date:         Fri, 20 Dec 1996 13:47:52 -0500
>Reply-To: Art Criticism Discussion Forum <ARTCRIT@xxxxxxxx>
>Sender: Art Criticism Discussion Forum <ARTCRIT@xxxxxxxx>
>From: Elizabeth Scott <es2378@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject:      Re: Clear/poetry
>To: Multiple recipients of list ARTCRIT <ARTCRIT@xxxxxxxx>
>On Thu, 19 Dec 1996, Roger H. Boulet wrote:
>> At 05:44 PM 19/12/96 -0500, Beth wrote:
>> >Do you have any thoughts about bookmaking? This is becoming a Big Thing
>> >lately: the book format. I even noticed some graduate programs offer
>> >MFA's in bookmaking.
>> The book is an object. Even if published in thousands of copies, it is an
>> object. I have some (fairly) rare books, on wood engraving to be precise,
>> and they are very precious to me. But only because they contain wood
>> engravings and come from the artists who made them. One of the reasons that
>> many prints ceased to be effective as objects is that they tried to emulate
>> painting, especially through scale. Prints are to me most effective when
>> that intimate relationship is utilized. The object seen at arm's length...
>> not a precious object, but an object that one can love and admire and
>> treasure and share... Lots of books by contemporary artists are merely
>> precious objects... The great book explores the print medium in all its
>> possibilities... or even just a few possibilities, but superbly...
>The book of prints to me represents another tradition, another orientation
>to the viewer; the context, or the way we think of a book is different
>from how we think of a print on the wall. I get the feeling of the presense
>of many multiples more from a book than a print or series of prints hanging.
>I also feel as if I'm invited into a book, I get to open it, touch it, move
>it from place to place, look at it from different angles, and I feel like
>I'm reading it as well as looking at it, so I'm more likely to put something
>of myself into my reading while the print on the wall is only itself and
>it seems to tell me what to think. If I think something very subjective it
>seems to put that thought in it's place and from it's fixed orientation it
>tells me to back off and be more objective, with some kind of authority.
>It has a life of it's own and it's just resting for a moment on my wall,
>looking down at me judgingly, as if questioning whether I deserve to be
>in it's presense, where the book is firmly mine to do whatever I want to
>But some prints on the wall have that feel, and some books have the
>quality of paintings, as you said, and I've noticed it too. Some people's
>statements mention that they think of their pieces, prints, photos, paintings,
>sculpture, any medium, as following the "book format", and sometimes I can
>see it, most of the time it seems like they don't know what they're talking
>about, or at least I can't see it... it's hard to pin down the quality of
>bookness. I've seen some sculpture that was booklike, many little doors to
>open, that sort of thing- I think there's a quality there that isn't tied to
>books alone, but I sure can't define it in exact terms. There's
>something different about the way books influence culture. They come to
>you, while you go to see art hanging on the wall, even if it's in your own
>home. There may be soemthing about that relationship or interaction that
>makes whatever is in a book accessible and part of the reader. Anyone
>have any more thoughts about this? I'm sure I don't have the whole story...

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