Wednesday, August 29, 2012

E-catalogue 27: Artists' Books

As a segment of the book arts, there are possibly as many supporters of the artist's book as there are definitions of what one is supposed to be. The seminal catalogue of the 1960 exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts -- known to posterity as The Artist and the Book -- informs us that "the illustrated book should be a harmonious combination of textual and pictorial elements, each significant, and each of relatively equal importance." Forty years later, Jerry Kelly and his collaborators in The Best of Both Worlds brought the criterion of printing quality into the equation, noting that there are many instances where the fine press book and the livre d'artiste overlap, "resulting in a volume that can hold its own among prime examples of each group."

We couldn't agree more. For our twenty-seventh e-catalogue, then, we have pulled together over thirty artists' books that we feel strike a balance between text, illustration, and the design and execution of the book itself. The examples range from the Eragny Press masterpiece, La Charrue d'√Črable -- a book that is number 247 in The Artist and the Book, and the only book illustrated by Camille Pissarro -- to John and Joy Tonkin's miniature book, ABC New Zealand Style, which contains an alphabet of New Zealand's particular dialect.

Beyond beauty and ingenuity, though, we have also included examples that show the versatility of the artist's book. From the field of children's books are examples of work from Belgian Fauvist Edgard Tijtgat -- another artist included in the 1960 MFA exhibit -- and Italian Futurist Bruno Munari. Jacques Villon, who was Marcel Duchamp's brother and yet another artist represented in The Artist and the Book, shows a range of styles in the thirteen etchings for Dents de Lait, Dents de Loup. And in the archive for Still, Mali Burgess's tour-de-force of concrete poetry, we see the printed word itself as the illustration, in the tradition of the Calligrammes of Apollinaire.

We hope you enjoy this wide-ranging selection and look forward to hearing from you.

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