Book design by Renée Green

Artist/Author explores how the definition of the artist’s book has expanded in the last fifteen years to incorporate any book with which an artist might be involved, from commissioned magazine projects to text-based media works. The contemporary artist’s book, loosely defined as a work of art in book form, began in the 1960s as a radical departure from the limited-edition livre d’artiste of the nineteenth century. In the 1960s, the book became a portable alternative space: an extension of conceptual installation-based or performance art. The increasing politicization of artists in the context of the decade’s widespread social activism also led to the rise of the book as an art form. Artists’ ideas often attained a greater importance than the books’ aesthetic qualities or materials used. In fact, the new availability of inexpensive, offset printing spurred the rise of the artist’s book, as artists sought easier ways to bring their ideas to a widespread public. Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Lawrence Weiner’s Statements, and Jan Dibetts’s Robin Redbreast’s Territory/Sculpture 1969 were all made and sold cheaply.

An international survey of approximately one hundred contemporary artists’ books from the last two decades, Artist/Author presents “fanzines,” assemblies, exhibition catalogues, visual poetry, sketchbooks, and illustrated books as well as collaborations between artists and the commercial world, such as fashion-designer catalogues.”

Contributors: Cornelia Lauf, Glen O’Brien, Clive Phillpot, Jane Role, Brian Wallis, and Renée Green. Interview with Martha Wilson by Thomas Padon

Language: English