The Book as Art Object

Keith Dietrich & Heléne van Aswegen

7 December 2019 - 1 March 2020

  • The Book as Art Object

Artists have been active in book production for centuries, but the artist’s book is a relatively new field of art production, dating back to the late 1960s. Book art straddles the worlds of books and art, and are generally associated with conventional paper codices that are conceptualised as works of art. They are commercially printed in high volumes or published in limited editions, or produced as one-of-a-kind objects referred to as ‘uniques’. Besides the conventional codex form, artists’ books are also produced in a wide range of other forms, such as scrolls, accordion folds, fan folds, gatefolds, venetian blind folds, pop-up books or loose-leaf pages contained in a box.

Artists’ books lie at the intersection of disciplines in both the visual arts and literature, and include poetry, prose, playwriting, illustration, picture books, the graphic novel, graphic design, typography, photography, printmaking, drawing, painting, papermaking and bookbinding. Many, however, transgress the boundaries of the conventional book form by entering the arenas of sculpture, installation and performance, as well as the now escalating field of digital and screen based media. Although many examples might not even be identifiable as books, they play with the meanings associated with books and book making.


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