Artist/Author explores how the definition of the artist’s book has expanded in the last fifteen years to incorporate any book with which an artist might be involved, from commissioned magazine projects to text-based media works.
Artist/Author explores how the definition of the artist’s book has expanded in the last fifteen years to incorporate any book with which an artist might be involved, from commissioned magazine projects to text-based media works. The contemporary artist’s book, loosely defined as a work of art in book form, began in the 1960s as a radical departure from the limited-edition livre d’artiste of the nineteenth century. In the 1960s, the book became a portable alternative space: an extension of conceptual installation-based or performance art. The increasing politicization of artists in the context of the decade’s widespread social activism also led to the rise of the book as an art form. Artists’ ideas often attained a greater importance than the books’ aesthetic qualities or materials used. In fact, the new availability of inexpensive, offset printing spurred the rise of the artist’s book, as artists sought easier ways to bring their ideas to a widespread public. Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Lawrence Weiner’s Statements, and Jan Dibetts’s Robin Redbreast’s Territory/Sculpture 1969 were all made and sold cheaply.
An international survey of approximately one hundred contemporary artists’ books from the last two decades, Artist/Author presents “fanzines,” assemblies, exhibition catalogues, visual poetry, sketchbooks, and illustrated books as well as collaborations between artists and the commercial world, such as fashion-designer catalogues. The book is further enhanced by a slide-projection component, Itinerant Texts, commissioned for the exhibition and produced by Book Works, a London-based artists’ book publisher.
Artist/Author: Contemporary Artists’ Books
Authors: Cornelia Lauf, Clive Phillpot, Jane Rolo, Brian Wallis, Glenn O’Brien Publishers: American Federation of Arts and Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. (1998) Dimensions: 10 1/2 × 9 1/4 in. Format: Hardcover, 183 pp ISBN: 1-881616-94-0
Clive Phillpot is a consultant to the Visual Arts Department of the British Council, London, and former Director of the Library at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Cornelia Lauf is an independent curator.
The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts. It is a project of ART ACCESS II, a program of the AFA with major support from the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Fund. The exhibition is supported in part by grants from Ruth Bowman and the Fifth Floor Foundation. Additional support for the catalogue has been provided by the Heathcote Art Foundation. Educational materials are made possible by the Brown Foundation, Inc.