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Re: [BKARTS] craft standards, poor books

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Book_Arts-L [mailto:BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf
> Of Charles Brownson
Charles wrote:
> I am trying to master a style of artists book I might call
> 'rustic' -- to step outside the fine printing tradition of craft
> perfection. Think of the Zen tea masters' preference for a bowl a
> little misshapen, with a glaze which has dripped or crackled in
> firing. So the question is how to tell such a thing from a book
> which is just badly made.

While I have no answer regarding sources (and wonder if they exist) I find
this an intriguing question and I would hope that it could be discussed
thoughtfully here. It is particularly engaging given the contemporary
aesthetic leaning toward naive art.  It isn't difficult to grasp the Zen
aesthetic of "accidental' imperfection, but how does one transmute this to
an object such as an artists book?

In any art, there is a period in which academic perceptions of contemporary
inhibits artistic expression and stifles the joy and exhilaration of
discovery - as happened with poetry in the 1980s (until literary magazine
editors were begging and pleading for submissions that eschewed the academic
stamp and that offered poetry that was fresh in imagery and energetic and
exploratory in subject and form).

In a previous discussion on this list, there was a lot of disagreement
between those who cling to the academic definitions of formal book
structure, and those who were discovering the possibilities of book arts by
redefining - or expanding the definition of - what can be considered a
"book." Of course there was no consensus, but the discussion was lively and

Charles has raised a question that deals with the artful use of artlessness,
so to speak. It's something that many find easy to acknowledge in forms that
are familiar - i.e., the Japanese master's "ingenuous" bowl with its
apparent imperfections. But how do you apply that aesthetic to an
essentially recent form (artists book) that is still trying to find its
place in the artistic canon without losing the aspects of structural
integrity that make it an art form in the first place? Is it even possible,
since the definition of "artists book" is still in flux?

Hopeful of an intelligent discussion on this topic to start the New Year,

Lee Kirk
Cats are composed of Matter, Anti-Matter, and It Doesn't Matter

The Prints & The Paper
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