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Re: [BKARTS] Narrative book art



This topic is interesting. 

I have seen Haiku and other short poems done in artists' books that are delicious in both the contents and the look and feel of the book.
I agree that a long narrative may not be 'right' for an artists' book, however, I write short narratives and make prints to illustrate. I have had
a lot of success when I have put the prints and narrative together*.  Obviously, I would like to do the work more quickly and bind the book more
quickly because writing the story as well as making the prints is very time-consuming and is not cost-effective when I get to the bottom line. But making
my books this way satisfies something in my heart that yearns for me to take time and pleasure in making the books that I do produce.  And the entire
book is an artists' book, at least, according to my definition.

*disclaimer here:  I have made a book with 7 prints of a butterfly in transition and bound it in a bark paper.  I wrapped the signatures to the spine with twine. 
My client loved it and bought it when I designed it and before I made it.  Not all customers are as enthusiastic.  Jan Sapp



> Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 08:33:33 -0700
> From: ocotilloarts@xxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Narrative book art
> To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> 
> Jules,
> See my article "Now the Artists Book Now" on my website ocotilloarts.com (under the "studio goals" tab). I think there are several reasons why you are having difficulties finding examples. First, to theorize your problem, the requirements you list are incompatible in important ways: books (in the sense of printed -- usually long -- narratives) belong to a machine aesthetic whereas art which aspires to uniqueness belongs to the handmade aesthetic. Getting these two to mix is like oil and vinegar in salad dressing -- you have to keep shaking the bottle. (This is the main topic of the article I refer to.) Second, somewhat as a consequence of the first, there aren't very many examples that meet all your criteria -- in fact, I'd much like to see the list that will come out of your research. Third, the economics of it are working against you. The shorter the narrative the more difficult it is to tell any sort of meaningful story, and especially one of any
>  moral significance. Writing these things is a specialized talent. But you (the artist) would rather work with a short text. You'd like to get this thing done in your lifetime, you don't want to retreat to industrial methods, and if you did come up with a damned thick square book of 500 pages of difficult writing and difficult art stewed into a critical masterpiece what would you do with it? It's too big to edition, and where is the collector who will pay $10K for the thing, especially since you've been working so hard to get it done you haven't had any time to advertise yourself, make any petit jeux for the galleries, etc. Finally, how many people do you know who can write like Melville and draw like Kathe Kollwitz? These are alll good reasons why the older conception of an artist's book (with the apostrophe) was a commercial item for the carriage trade made by a graphic artist using hijacked poetry.
> There are also technical problems integrating text and the visual track to the degree you require, largely having to do with the tyranny of the rectangle imposed by typeset verbiage, and the requirement that the text be legible and easily readable. The easiest solution is calligraphic. Great -- we've already asked for a Melville and a Kollwitz and now we want a Yan Zhenqing? I don't know about you, but I find the prospect of narrative book art really intimidating.
> Charles
> Ocotillo Arts (Tempe AZ)
> (PS I apologize for my website, which really needs renovating. Time, time, time... )
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Jules Siegel <jules@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:56:29 PM
> Subject: [BKARTS] Narrative book art
> 
> I am writing an essay on narrative book art, a term that I thought was 
> prominent in our field, until I searched the term "narrative book art." 
> I got exactly one hit. Maybe I broke the Internet. Help me out here.
> 
> Example #1
> 
> "Minsky in Bed" by Richard Minsky
> http://minsky.com/books.htm#bed
> Text and commentary by Richard Minsky. His love life in the style of the 
> incunabula, with historiated, inhabited and illuminated initials.
> 
> Example #2
> 
> "Mad Laughter, Fragments of a Life in Progress"
> http://www.madlaughter.com
> Text, illustrations, facsimile documents and other visual objects along 
> with photographs by the author and others. Scenes from his life and 
> family history.
> 
> Shared characteristics:
> 
> [1] The text, typography and design are the work of a single author, who 
> creates or chooses the illustrations and also prints, binds and sells 
> the book.
> 
> [2] The book is meant to be read and looked at, but the text is main 
> conveyor, not the art. The text is not visually obscure.
> 
> [3] It tells a story in words and images; it's not a collection of 
> isolated pieces. The segments are at least several paragraphs long and 
> usually take up multiple pages. If it consists of very small segments, 
> such as poetry, they form a narrative.
> 
> [4] The layout is integrated with the story or complements it in a 
> global way. Richard's book has an antique design that gives his very 
> candid and explicit sexual memoir an amusing historical frame. My book 
> is laid out like a lavish university press version of a Great Man's 
> memoir, complete with documents from his personal papers.
> 
> Discussion:
> 
>     * What other books like this do you know?
> 
>     * Is narrative book art a recognized genre?
> 
>     * Do you have any other defining characteristics to add?
> 
>     * References and authorities?
> 
>     * Other observations or points of interest
> 
> Many thanks for any assistance you may be inclined to offer.
> 
> 
> -- 
> JULES SIEGEL Apdo. 1764, 77501-Cancun, Q. Roo, Mexico
> http://www.cafecancun.com/bookarts
> 
> Newsroom-l, news and issues for journalists
> http://www.newsroom-l.net/
> 
> 
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