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Re: Artists' Books

Can the list tolerate another opinion on artists' books? Hope so.

When the book form itself becomes a part of the artist's expression, it's an artist's book. It's more
than just a mat and frame on a piece of art. A great painting with a lousy frame is still a great
painting, whereas an artist's book is all of a piece -- you probably can't separate the art from the
frame. The entire thing must work as a whole. Fine prints in a shoddy or thoughtless
binding/box/whatever are more like the great painting in a bad frame -- separable. My brother in law did
a uni project that contained some of his photographs and some wonderful writing, and he stuck it in a
crap binding, and his instructor called him on it, rightfully, I think.

When you bind something (or box it, or imply book form), you are either encasing it in something that is
a sort of frame, in which case it should adequately "support" the contents, or you are encasing it in
something that relates to and with the contents; they're interdependent. In which case it should at
least meet the standards of the art. So I would say that good craftsmanship must play a part.

I guess if you were to apply this idea to something like the example given earlier in the list, dead
branches with paper hanging from them, you'd have to ask yourself whether the papers would have the same
meaning without the branches. Likewise, a collection of text and images (for example) in a beautiful but
otherwise unrelated binding -- is it a book of art or an artists' book? I'd call it the former.

I'm sure there's a gaping hole in my logic and someone's about to drive a humvee through it, but,
well... that's why we're here, I guess!


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