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- To: Multiple recipients of list BOOK_ARTS-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
- Subject: Re: Bookness
- From: Richard Minsky <minsky@NYC.PIPELINE.COM>
- Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 20:19:18 GMT
- Message-Id: <199609302020.NAA04508@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
On Sep 30, 1996 07:46:15, '"Steven D. Hales" <hales@BLOOMU.EDU>' wrote:
>Philosophers have been referring to properties this way (the property of
>a book = bookness) since Aristotle.
Exactly! (It's Greek to me);>)
But the issue this all brings up for this forum (Roman?) has to do with
several philosophical and practical matters:
1. Are there limits to how inclusive our subject is?
2. Are sculptural works like those of Benes and Waitzkin properly included
in our exhibits?
3. At what point does over-inclusion weaken the meaning of an exhibit?
4. Is it the function of an exhibit to define the boundaries of a subject
or to require the viewer to set their own boundaries?
5. Does the inclusion of work outside the boundaries (of whatever
definition is applicable at the moment) stimulate those working within the
6. And does all this apply to a mailing list on the internet as well as an
In particular, I've used this as a pedagogical tool to elevate the work of
bookbinders for a couple of decades, and I think it's been successful. Were
it not for the craftspeople in the field being exposed to the work of
artists whose considerations were more metaphoric than technical, we might
still be looking at the same sort of tooled and inlaid bindings we saw in
Conversely, exposing the artists who were slopping around with books to the
work of skilled artisans has inspired many to learn the skills to elevate
their works, or to collaborate with craft-capable practitioners to create
works of greater skill and durability. I believe the field of Book Art has
only benefited from this.
We now have bookbinders making books of exceptionally varied form and
content, and artists making books with technical virtuosity. Before the
Book Art revolution not much had changed in Bookbinding since Reynolds and
Legrain. It was they who established the surrealist and cubist influence in
binding 70 years ago.
What has changed now is that Book Art is in itself a new form evolving on
its own. The "art world" still doesn't get it. They'll show books in their
museums that are done by famous artists, but not the work by the seminal
book artists. It's still too radical for them. Take that show at MOMA that
Riva Castleman did as an example. Nothing new there.
It's exciting, this "new art of making books," as Ulises called it. And
it's precisely because of this undefined, searching, struggling aspect as
artist/artisans search for materials, structures, texts and images to
explore the metaphors of today's cultural ambiguity.
So it does get a rise out of me when I see respected elders of the
Bookbinding community attempting to limit the field to what might appeal to
a certain type of bibliophile, or even more extremely, bibliophilistine.
And don't forget to go to the Colophon Page website's new addition at:
And while you're there leave a comment in the Forum (which accepts html