What is a book artist or an art book?

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Formal aspects of artists' books

What is a book artist or an art book?


Just a quick look at this exhibition to show that it is a question not easy, there is an immense variety, both in form and content within the medium. While some books contain only words and some only illustrations, most combine the two. The materials simple, cheap and, consequently, ephemeral, certain volumes, provide a telling contrast to the luxurious thick paper and bindings of more expensive works, thoughtful and sustainable. The content has a range, ranging from the philosophical to the erotic, from the sociological to the personal, from the serious to the whimsical.

Because the art books are works of visual art, an approach or criteria that could include the case of books made by artists. The works in this exhibition have been produced by people who have themselves, or are considered by the art world, as belonging to the rank of artists. However, artists also produce statements of philosophical and critical, autobiographies and other kinds of writing that would not be willing to bring them the label of visual art. In such cases, the artist becomes a writer. The distinction lies in the fact that "a writer, contrary to popular opinion, does not write books," says Ulises Carrión. "A writer writes texts." Even if a text can exist in numerous different formats, without altering its fundamental meaning, the books in this exhibition could not be printed with different distributions, other typefaces, spacing, size, proportions, paper or organizations, without changing their identities.

The artist's book, as with any other object of art, exists in the physical world as a merger specific, unique in form and content. The soul can not exist without the body in this case. The visual and physical forms are fundamental components of meaning. These features may serve as a way of defining the environment and distinguish it from other more traditional means, as are the painting and sculpture.

The most radical is probably the middle touch. You have to choose, manage, turn the pages of a book with his finger, in order to read it. Look at the cover, or a simple double-page opening will not be enough. The mere sight, with no physical contact, deprived of information about how to appreciate the role touch soft, shiny or rough and cheap to a book, or else, how easy or opposes binding tenaciously to open it. A large volume, heavy, suggests solidity and depth when contrasted with a collection thin, insubstantial, photocopied pages, stapled together by a mere. Without this information has not been treated in fact the entire work. Gail Presbey, writer and artist, wrote about this issue at its Detroit-Fictions Hall, where he imagined:

"The night of the silent reading books ... when many come together in the silent darkness of the library to read. Not allow any light ... I'm at a table and I turning the pages one by one, being then when the book begins to whisper. I hear you telling me things about the paper, ink, texture and things of the night and darkness. It is full of wisdom through the sense of touch. "Imagine an experience comparable with paintings or sculptures and set in a museum setting would blasphemous!

It is normal for the book artist is hanging from the walls, and which is unattainable. Because of her, were, small scale, can have on your legs, put on the bedside table or tucked in a bag or pocket. Its dimensions make them facilitate portable, so you can read the book in the privacy of the hammock stand that you like, or even sitting on the bus, when addressing the workplace. Books can be sent by mail, without any difficulty, critics, to which the artist wants to make an impression, or even to friends. Your property makes them highly portable optimum means of dissemination of styles and ideas.

The small size also gives an intimacy to the environment, making it perfect for a personal content. So many books by artists deal with religious matters or autobiographical. Pocket Books Athena Tacha, consisting of single sheets, folded accordion style and small (approximately 15 x 18 cm.), Are in plastic cases, sporting titles such as "The way my mind works" and "(Who is Athena? ". They are volumes of a series of successive scans autocomportamiento autoapreciaciones and human. so small and personal, which in tone is quiet and confidential in the act of reading.

Imagine a book, and in the mind's eye we see a codex: a set of sheets bound together, along a ridge or edge. This is the most common format today, although not the only kind of book. Other possibilities include scrolls, series of slats connected by rings or belts, books and folded accordion style. All these forms are generally attached a number of items or pages. Another formal property comes next is the series, the existence of multiple units within the work. There must be more than one item, and the elements have to interact in any significant way.

One type of relationship is the catalog or visual list of which exemplify some works of Ed Ruscha. His books, the simplest kind of series, with exercises on literalism: 26 Gasoline Stations, 1969; Some apartments in Los Angeles, 1970, and a few palm trees, 1971, contain exactly what the title leads you to expect. No explanation or story accompanying the photographs of structures or trees, is left to the reader to draw conclusions sociological, typological or otherwise, or take no conclusion of any kind. In these cases, the progression of images is not any particular meaning, even if certain aesthetic decisions unquestionably guided placement.

The fact that the books are bound does not imply, however, a fixed order or progression, and most artists make use of books, were, the reader's expectation, based on years of being inundated with novels, essays and books study, in the sense that the structure will contain a beginning, middle or middle and end. The Western convention requires that a book is read from left to right, which is bound to the left and right and open the front be indicated by a title and copyright or other notice significant. The beginning of a book must be in the front and the word on the reverse. Is that clear? Yes. However, not dealing here with a defined structure, rather it is one chosen by the artist (or designer, in the case of an artist's book), founded in tradition. The book Cover to Cover ("Home to Home"), Michael Snow, written around 1975, eloquently develops these and other conventions and expectations. The acceptance of such formal structure means different quality, ie direction.

The vast majority of people read books from cover to end (even when it comes to flipping, the process is usually reversed.) Sunrise and sunset at Praiano (1980) takes place from morning to night, from east to west, as it moves through, from cover to back cover. Each page contains a grid square and four color photographs of the horizon or sky Praiano, Italy. First look to the East to a sunrise, a universal symbol of the beginning and then in the West, now the Sunset, which is an analogy of termination. In this arrangement of pages, the artist / writer controls the passage of the reader throughout the book. This is only a partial control because there is no mechanism to compel the reader to start on the front page and go constantly, page by page, until the end. Those who prefer to read the end before the beginning are completely free, of course, proceed. However, the notion that it is, in fact, the end becomes inescapable above all else. The general structure of the book is not altered.

The image or travel analogy is very appropriate for this journey from beginning to end. The intellectual journey is one that goes through both time and space. Unlike a painting, in which one eye can perceive the image (although not necessarily to understand), the book has to be examined element by element, and then summarized in the brain as a whole. The experience of studying separate images and text is more like watching a movie on video tape, to contemplate a painting or print. The passage, through a day, is a beautiful metaphor for this time incorporating a graphic process.

The space found in a book is more than the sum of the thicknesses of the pages or the area of two-dimensional surfaces. There are two ways to interpret this space: one approach is to examine the dichotomy between interior and exterior, decks and content. The exterior is public space accessible to the hearing of any, but the interior is now a more intimate area. This distinction is hauntingly demonstrated Susanne Lacy's book, entitled Rape ("Violation"), 1972. This is a small book, bound with staples, of greater width than height. The deck consists of a heavy material, white and bright, open in the center of the front. Joining the two halves of the cover is a dark red label with the title printed on it. This book is sold sealed. To read it, we must break the seal or seal, thus violating the physical integrity of the original item. It is an unalterably changing the subject, is an awesome act to a work of art. Where to stay only one copy in the world, would we have the courage to break this band, not knowing if they actually have something inside of him? It is possible that the work consists solely of cover image. Fortunately, this is not the only aspect of the book. At the opening we see a flyer dark blood red, and the book begins to make statements about the kind of acts that constitute a violation, from harassment to assault. This book form, cash and the fact he decided to open their decks, are inextricably linked to its content or message, but does not contain any illustration is certainly a work of visual art.

The other type of space refers back to the concept of travel. In the play Brick Wall ("brick wall"), 1973, Alex Hollweg, a book of drawings in pen and watercolor, printed only on the side of the page, it happens that each of the pages becomes a layer of space . The cover is a "solid" brick wall still held the title. Once opened, cut portions of each page can have a look through the many layers to the last page. The first two pages show a diverse set of people and objects in a room. On the third page, travels across the room, describing a window, through which can be seen at an urban landscape of roofs and terraces. We, from page to page, to the neighboring houses to office buildings downtown, there in the countryside beyond the city, and eventually diffuse into the distance, the sky or ether. There is a particular point of view and, therefore, a spectator, and a directional movement across the visual field in the distance. The first page summarizes the space to be traveled, both by hand and by eye.

Most books are not as provident and helpful to the reader as to provide a summary. The synthesis is needed to understand a work together into a whole, requires mental compilation and organization of individual elements, requires memory. ¬ If we forget each page immediately, after having read or seen, the book would be meaningless, as there where only a sum of its components. Dieter Roth's work, On the behavior of generality to ... ("Uber. Allgemeinen das das Verhalten zo ..." (the title goes on and on), provides an eloquent illustration of this: the book contains only one sentence, scattered throughout the book letter by letter. Each page contains a letter or a punctuation mark, repeated in a grid that covers the usual text space. When you need a space, the page is blank. All letters or symbols are in a grammatically correct order. Being a German sentence is long. There is no way to read the book, but sit at the table and be content writing, page after page, until the sentence is finally complete. But even then , its meaning appears unclear. The more privileged memory would be overwhelmed by such a large volume.

Tactility, small-scale, portability, serialization, progression, and memory management are common formal features of art books or art books. Undoubtedly, these characteristics are not the only possible, but is helpful for defining the environment and the ways in which a book is different from a painting or sculpture.

It is often stated how the exceptions prove the rule: This proverb reveals true also for artists' books. Just when boundaries or categories are determined, a book lacking in one or more of the features mentioned above. However, this book fits, no doubt, in an exhibition like this. In such cases, the artist usually deliberately circumvent or contradict the traditional rule to manipulate the nature and definition of the form "book." This search, exploration and horseplay, or sleight of hand, it is not bad, is the living blood of art.

Consequently, any attempt in terms of a definition of the environment should not be taken as a precept or a formula. Art historians agree only "a posteriori" in fact, trying to describe, catalog and analyze what the artists have produced.

The artworks themselves are maintained as vigorous expressions, with or without analysis and categories to be taken for the study of art historians. The artists adopting this new medium, they have undertaken with such energy and vitality that their forms are fluid, experimental and exciting. Their enthusiasm and imagination has made arduous task of defining the artist's book, which is fascinating, both in reading and in his delight.

Barbara Tannenbaum




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