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- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Artists' Books
- From: Michael Morin <ba202@FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU>
- Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 18:40:32 -0800
- Message-Id: <199803051256.EAA18288@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: The list for all the book arts!" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Artists' Books: I intend, therefor I am.
When Marcel Duchamp installs a urinal in a museum, it is art. If Sophie
the plumber installs a urinal in the same museum's lavatory, it's a toilet
and nothing more.
Intent is everything. An Artists' book is different from other books
simply because it conceived and executed from the beginning as a work of
art by its creator. Nothing anyone thinks changes the originial intent of
Art students should like that. Many others will not.
Any book can be artty, artistic, designed by artists, be about artists or
about art... but that isn't what makes a book an artists' book.
I once watched a couple dozen librarians examine 20 or 30 artists' books as
part of professional field trip to a major art museum's research library.
They seemed to understand the differences between William Blake's Book of
Job, The Klemscott Chaucher and Susan King's Women in Cars but the
defining moment came when they were shown and asked to inspect and coment
on the artists' book entitled _Boundless_. I apologize for not remembering
the artist's name, but this book is simply and round book that has a wire
spiral binding that completly binds all of the 360 degrees of the books
edge. A book with no entry was too much for these librarians. They were
not prepared for books as art. It was fun to witness their puzlement. A
book made to conceal all. No access is kryptonite to librarins. In short,
it really bugged a few of them.
Whatever the intent of the artist, acess to the interior was't one of them.
In this case intent was everything. Perhaps as it should be.
It may not help your case, but I would tell your students to read and study
Willam Blakes life and work. To me, he encompasses much of what I would
consider about intent and artists' books. He was published by thrid party
only once. His work _The_Grave_ (1813?) was engraved by another line
engraver and much of what made Blake, Blake is lost. You can compare the
same work as engraved by Blake himself and compare intent and personal
vision (or in Blake's case visions!) the intent of is work is clear(er). A
good palce to start a conversation. So is Duchamps bronzed ball of string
(Philly Museum of Art)
Hope is helps...best regards.