I love reading books, but like many other things I own, I never think of what went into making them. It’s not much to think about though, they are, like everything else, made by using machines. Some people, though, take the time to make every part of a book by hand. From sewing the pages together, binding, to hand writing every page, and drawing every picture that goes into it.
That is what the authors of the books being displayed at The New York Book Fair in the Museum Of Modern Art’s PSI. Book artists from all over the world come together to display their master pieces. For me it was hard to understand what artist books were. It’s just like every other type of art except that this is in form of a book. This type of artwork began with William Blake, who in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, along with his wife, made his creations of mashing art and text. At the time it was a ludicrous idea to integrate text and visuals together while creating a book and Blake is often neglected as being part of artists book history.
Ambroise Vollard, a Parisian art dealer, toke advantage of the new rich middle class in France by selling artist books. The Russian Futurists started making books as art in the early 1910’s. In the 1960’s America too joined, they used new methods as well as cheap and available materials to present this type of art. The Italian Futurists (1910’s), German Bauhaus (1920’s and 30’s), and the Dada (late 1910’s, early 1920’s) movements were a great influence in the idea that expression could be done by using both visuals and text at the same time. It even created the idea of typography. Later the introduction of sculpture (1970’s) and installation art (1980’s) also influenced book artists.
I’ve made two books before, and I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. The sewing is the part that really got me. It’s so complicated, making it easy to mess up. Also it requires a lot of materials that I’m just not willing to buy. I still haven’t used either of them, it took too long to make them and I’m afraid to write or draw something that won’t be good enough. I went to a museum that had some artist books, I used to think pop-up books were awesome, but these were so much cooler. The fact that someone made everything, sometimes even the paper, by hand is crazy. I personally wasn’t that excited to see the books, but it is obvious the type of work that goes into them.