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Book Art vs. Book Arts



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Judith Hoffberg's posting gives a segue for an important discussion:

>Visual Icons, an exhibiton of book art featuring the works of....

uses the singular form, in contrast to Barbara Korb's exhibition notice:

>Metamorphosis: Contemporary Forms in Book Arts

[Note that the following opinion does not reflect on the Content of these shows
or the artists in them-- it is a discussion of nomenclature]

For the last few years I have been dropping the final "s" in descriptions of art
activity in our field. This is to distance it from "arts & crafts" and
"industrial arts." During the last week I had several occasions to mention this
in private correspondence, and now would like to open this thread up to the
list.

This is a distinction that is important to the consideration of the work as Art.
I refer to The Book Art Movement, and to an exhibition of Book Art.  A few years
ago I asked the CBA's then Executive Director Peter Smith to propose to the
Board that the organization drop the final "s" and become The Center for Book
Art. His view was that The Center for Book Arts has classes and workshops in the
crafts of bookmaking, as well as presenting exhibitions of Book Art, and there
the plural form is appropriate. That is a reasonable argument.

The website for the exhibition Judith announced does not use the phrase Book
Art, but says "This is an exhibit of  one-of-a-kind-artist-made books...."

I am curious what other listmembers think about this.

1. Does the term "Book Arts" provincialize our work?
2. Does it limit the recognition or consideration of the work?
3. Does it impose a low financial value on the work, compared to other art
forms?
4. Is "Book Art" any better? Is a phrase like "one-of-a-kind-artist-made books"
a better solution, even though it is awkward?
5. Do we need a concept like "Book Art Movement" to position the field?  Is it
in fact a movement?
6. If so, is Ulises Carrion's _The New Art of Making Books_ the Manifesto? If
not that, then what?
7. Is it just my point of view as a geezer, or has anyone else noticed that a
lot of "Book Arts" stuff being done today looks like it came from a Hallmark
Gift Shoppe? Does this indicate the popularization of the field among the Mall
crowd? Is it due to the recent plethora of Bookbinding "craft project" books?

--

 Richard
 http://www.minsky.com
 http://www.centerforbookarts.org

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