What are Artists’ Books?
Artists’ Books may range from the interpretation of a classic work of literature in a sculptural format to a traditional volume that has been physically altered to give it new meaning. Infinite in form and subject, their creators often use traditional fine arts concepts such as collage to express their ideas. An art form that has grown exponentially over the last forty years, artists’ books are often created as unique works or in small editions by private presses.
How to Search Artists’ Books
Artists’ books can be searched by title, author and/or book artist, contributor, such as illustrator, photographer, paper maker, box maker, and by printer, publisher or press. Artists’ books come in a variety of formats, including accordion fold, tunnel books, pop-ups, flip books, flag structures, and miniature books that can be searched in the genre field. The phrase “artists’ books” is a genre and using this search term will result in a complete listing of all artists’ books held by the library. Lafayette’s Artists’ Books Collection has strengths in the following areas:
The alphabet book has its humble origins in teaching children their ABCs. Book artists incorporate letters of the alphabet into intricately designed books that feature letters without text or as illustrations accompanied by poetry and fiction. A variety of formats playfully reinterpret the traditional elementary school abecedaries.
The collection documents the creative encounter between book artists and the environment. Some works confront pressing environmental issues, including fracking, habitat destruction, and species pushed to extinction. Other works depict the beauty of nature and serve as a reminder of what we stand to lose due to environmental exploitation.
Lafayette collects books created by artists from around the world seeking to represent their own histories and cultures, including Asian, Latin American, African, and European works.
Many works of literature and poetry have been re-imagined and interpreted by book artists. Literary Themes may be searched in the Library Catalog by author (such as Poe, Dickinson, or Shakespeare), as well as by book artist or press.
These artists take the traditional medium of photography and incorporate it into books that showcase the beauty of the images or act as a vehicle for social commentary on issues affecting our world.
The tapestry of human inter-racial interaction has not always been woven into a harmonious whole, and this category documents those struggles from slavery to cultural identity issues that face our multi-cultural environment today.
Sculptural books reach beyond the codex format into three-dimensional forms such as tunnel books, pop-ups, volvelles, scrolls, and more.
The books in this category are unusual, creative, quirky, and artistic, celebrating the sheer exuberance of the artists’ book craft in many topics.
Social & Political
Book artists often use their works to give voice to social and political protests and causes that they feel are culturally important. The collection includes pieces that range from the impact of urban decay to immigration issues.
Women & Gender
This category examines women, gender, and sexuality in our contemporary society. Book artists explore diverse topics such as gender and sexuality, women's history, women and war, violence and human rights, and the family.