Book as Art & Art as Book

From the turn of the 20th century through the 1960’s and ‘70’s a new artistic medium was coming into its own: the artist’s book. Though books had certainly been an art form long before this development, the artist’s book brought something new to the book arts and fine arts. Artists’ books are often more esoteric than a traditional text, from which the reader expects to gain some knowledge, insight, or entertainment through reading. An artist’s book falls outside of the traditional book form in one of many ways, such as limited numbers, handcrafting, or use of nontraditional materials or book forms. The artist’s book is a fine art, which is not constrained by the need for utility or purpose other than as a means of expression for its creator. Artists’ books come in many shapes and forms, many of which can be found at Indiana University, in both the Fine Arts and Lilly Libraries.

In this exhibition you will find a variety of artists’ books as well as examples of more traditional books held by the Fine Arts Library. These traditional books have been selected for their beauty, so that you may consider the boundary between book and art. The traditional books, which may also be worthy of the title ‘art’, are exemplified by winners of the George Wittenborn Award (known as the Art Publishing Award from 1974 through 1980). The Wittenborn Award is granted by the Art Libraries Society of North America and recognizes excellence in art publishing. As you browse the exhibition consider the line between art and book and the ways in which that line may be permeable.

Books on Artists’ Books:

Journals of Interest:

Artists’ Books in Libraries:

Artists on Artists’ Books:

Art Book Fairs: