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Beyond Words
ARTISTS’ BOOKS
By Ellen Firsching Brown
Photography by Tasha Tolliver

Some of the most significant accomplishments of the modernist movement occurred in the world of book production, where innovative writers, poets, graphic designers and artists challenged expectations of what books should look like and the purposes they could serve. The end result was an entirely new creative medium in which books are produced as original works of art. Called artists’ books, these volumes are designed to offer readers an artistic experience as visually and conceptually meaningful as a painting or sculpture.

What exactly are artists’ books? It depends on whom you ask. Critical analysis on book art is still a burgeoning field and there is no universally accepted definition of which types of books fit within the term. As a general matter, a book created or conceived of as a work of art is considered to be an artists’ book. It is not necessary that a book be hand made by an artist, although that is often the case. An artist can design and oversee the production of work performed by others and still qualify. The key criteria are that the work be artist-driven (as opposed to publisher-driven) and that the creator’s intention was to express some artistic vision in the book as opposed to a literary or informational one. Artists’ books are not just any book by an artist or any book about art. Artists’ books are art.

Although inspiration for artists’ books can be traced back hundreds of years, they are emblematic of the 20th century. The history of their development is yet another success story of the modernist vision. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125
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