Artists' Books Collection Index
Emily Simmons 2005
A physical examination of each and every one of the books listed in this index would allow for the sort of approach to the field of artists' books that artist/art theorist Johanna Drucker discusses in her The Century of Artists' Books when she remarks that it is difficult to construct a single definition for the term 'artists' books'. 1 Instead, her approach to artists' books proceeds from the idea that there is "a zone of activity [ . . .] made at the intersection of a number of different disciplines, fields, and ideas".2 This subject index was created to give an idea of this 'zone of activity' Drucker refers to and to determine the specific features of each artists' book that are separate from theme or general subject matter (though themes have been accounted for, as well). Because The Library of Congress does not include standard terms for subject headings such as "Japanese stab binding" (for example), we have taken the liberty of creating our own subject headings using terms culled from books on the creation of artists' books whenever possible. Keith Smith's series in book arts and sewn bindings has proven invaluable, as well as Richard Kostellanetz's Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes , and Drucker's essay "Experimental, Visual, and Concrete Poetry: A Note on Historical Context and Basic Concepts".3 Joan Lyons's Artists' Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook was also helpful. In order to more accurately present information that was often absent from the colophons of many of these artists' books, Internet sites for individual printing presses or book dealers were consulted for each book.
The Dodd Research Center owns a number of small edition artists' books that integrate text and image which, unlike more recent contemporary examples of artists' books, are not uniquely bound and do not necessarily feature complex printing or art techniques. However, these early examples of artists' books are mentioned in several anthologies as having influenced the artists' book as the form currently exists.4 In order to offer patrons who are unfamiliar with the trajectory of artists' books some idea of its roots in other art and literary 'movements', we have also included subject headings for 'Concrete Poetry', 'Collage-Novel' and 'Visual Literature' or 'Visual Poetry' (for example).
The artists' books index covers printing processes, relief and intaglio techniques, some specific stitches used for bindings, various non-Codex book forms, and names and locations of private and independent printing presses. Construction materials have been relegated to separate categories such as 'wood' or 'metal'. For terms that seemed to be used interchangeably when they denoted different art techniques or printing processes, the terminology used in a book's colophon was respected and definitions have been provided in accompanying 'glossary cards' in the index. The Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus contributed these 'standard' definitions.
1 Drucker 1. The Century of Artists' Books.
2 Drucker 1.
3 Drucker's essay appears in Experimental, Visual, Concrete: Avant- Garde Poetry Since the 1960s. Amsterdam : Editions Rodopi B.V., 1996. (Jackson, K. David and Eric Vos and Johanna Drucker, eds.)
4 See Lyons, Joan, ed. Artists' Books: a Critical Anthology and Sourcebook . New York : Rochester , Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1985.
This page is maintained by K. Eshelman.