B**K draws together work by ‘book artists’ – and by visual artists who use the book as an inspiration. All the work on display has been driven by ideas, in which artists have engaged with books as object, as subject, and as material. Some of the artists shown in this exhibition define themselves as book artists, run small presses, and produce work in editions. Others are artists usually work in other media and feel inspired to work with the format.
‘Book Art’ and Artists
Over the years artists have been interested in the art of the book. Many notable artists in the 20th century have produced books, or works of art that refer to books – among them Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Robert Rauschenberg. Contemporary artists who work with the book form include Richard Long, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
‘Book Art’ has been defined as ‘a book or book-like object in which an artist has had a major input beyond illustration or authorship…where the book is a work of art in itself.’ As opposed to traditional fine book design, the artist’s book is an attempt to challenge the form of the book. It is an area which is attractive to artists for many reasons. They can self-publish and disseminate their ideas; artists can produce affordable art; they can avoid the gallery system and work outside wall-based display formats. Book Art is a diverse field that now includes fine press bookmakers, authors who use photocopiers to make books, and artists who generate alternative book structures that are metaphoric or sculptural in their construction. Some artists work altering existing texts rather than creating texts from blank pages.