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Re: Artist's Books



I would ask the question whether book art and artists books are the  
same.  I feel rather parochial today and argue that the two are quite  
different/dissimilar.  I would define artists books in these  
terms/images.  Matisse's book "Jazz" is an artists book.  An artist,  
who may or may not work in that particular medium, produced/collaged  
a book in the same way that an author wrote a book.  In this case the  
artist uses the traditional unaltered book form as a framework within  
which to transmit/convey/share images of his art.  An artists book is  
a book of art designed to be used as a book.  It is a book anyway you  
look at it, whether it is in a bookstore, in a library, or on  
someone's coffee table.  "Jazz" is meant to be picked up, used,  
studied, enjoyed, discussed.  (It was also mass-produced.)  The book  
form is a means to an end, a conveyance of information/images.

On the other hand, the book as a conveyor of information on pages  
within covers may not be at all important to some artists(?).  (I do  
not agree with a statement from earlier in the day that allowed  
someone to call something they produced a piece of art.  Phooey.)   
Objects/sculptures such as those created by Philip Smith and others  
are book art.  In this case the book form is used as an end in  
itself, an end which has little to do with or has no relationship  
with the turning of pages or the reading of text and the study of  
illustrations--usually.  You are looking at an object that uses a  
transmutation or transmogrification of the book form itself to convey  
an idea--usually the artists brilliance at doing something unusual  
with an everyday object.  (Sometimes these sculptings can be  
interpreted as a Twilight Zone form of dust jacket illustration or  
stamped cover design which conveys, to some extent, the meaning of  
the text within the "books" covers.  But I think that, in many cases,  
text has precious little to do with book art.)  It is simply an  
artist trying to be an alchemist with the book form.  Like making a  
obselisk out of old Cadillacs, or a Motel 6 out of old Fiats.  Much  
the same way other artists use a canvas (which is later framed and  
hung on a wall) or a piece of wood or metal (which might be called a  
carving or a sculpture) to convey their ideas.    

Are Tim Ely's constructions book art or artists books?  Are Buzz  
Spector's book installations book art or artists book--or neither?   
Is a nailed and tied up book (conveying the idea of censorship)  
either book art or an artists book or simply "art", a sulpture? 

Robert Milevski


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