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Re: Definition of the Artists B

With all due respect, I was being mildly facetious when I posed the "what
is art" question. Yet, it is clear from this and other discussions that
there is no consensus. To date, the boundaries of the form have not been
established by scholars, artists, bookbinders, printers, etc. etc. In
order to be critical, there is no reason not to "regress" to fundamental
questions, particularly when the form has not been codified. There have
been some concise articulate definitions here (one or two that I wish I
had written), but I think it is a mistake at this point to tell students
that an artists' (artist's!!!) book is x,y, and z, with this or that
qualification simply because it is easier than explaining that there has
been this raging debate for several years. Meanwhile, artists make
books, printers make art objects, people create electronic visual media
that they call on-line artist(')s(') books, and life goes on. Peter, I
don't think there will be a definitive answer until there is more
critical thought put into the matter. I think it is important to tell
students that this is a complex and confusing matter with its own
vocabulary (I still can't bring myself to say the word "bookness") and
ongoing evolution. There are still obvious features that pointed out
that make a book, more or less, a trade book, a fine press book, a
livre d'artiste, etc. BTW, I have an exhibition here right now with
the subtitle: The fine press artists' book (not my term, so don't
bother to flame me). The catalog contains an excellent short essay by
Gary Young on the definition of  what exactly that means..... It's
anarchy, we love it. Back to lurking. p.s. michael babcock, i do agree
that intent is an important element.

Janice Braun
Special Collections Curator
Olin Library, Mills College

On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, Michael Babcock wrote:

> Um, sorry, but what is "art"?
> Talk about regressing to fundamental questions...
> It's all a matter of intent. (see Dada, et le objet truve [sp])
> Skill sets, craft and presentation aside.

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