Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List
- Primary References and Sourcebooks: these are all useful enough to buy and keep as references.
- Other useful works in the field
(NB: the use of the apostrophe is an issue of contestation, thus the variants seen here, all "sic".)
Stefan Klima, Artists Books, A Critical Survey of the Literature (NY: Granary Books, 1998); a most useful bibliography of the field, close to the subject, and narrowly enough focused to serve as a foundation.
Joan Lyons, ed., Artists Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook (Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1985); the essays in this volume contain valuable information about the works produced in the 1960s and 70s; much of the sourcebook aspect of the work has gone out of date, and thus has historical, rather than practical value.
Johanna Drucker, A Century of Artists' Books (NY: Museum of Modern Art, 1994); published as the exhibition catalogue to Castleman's final curatorial venture at MoMA, this volume takes a broad, uncritical view of what constitutes an artist's book, and includes works that are more properly understood as livres d'artistes and fine press works; still it serves well as a reference work and to provide a broader context.
JAB: The Journal of Artists Books, published by Brad Freeman, founded in 1994, the only publication devoted exclusively to criticism in the field of artists' books. Contains artists' pages, interviews, critical and historical articles, and reviews of books.
Umbrella, edited and published by Judith Hoffberg, a newsletter with remarkable longevity and stamina, a useful way to map artists' book publications and their appearance in the field.
Other journals that have or had regular articles on artists' books: Fine Print (from the 1970s), Print Collector's Newsletter - now On Paper, Ampersand, Art Monthly, and Northwest Review.
Germano Celant, Book as Artwork 1960/72, exhibition catalogue (London: Nigel Greenwood, 1972). If you can get hold of a copy of this, do so. It is invaluable and one of the smartest things written on conceptual art and books.
Susan Compton, Russian Avant-Garde Books 1917-34 (Cambridge: MIT, 1993). The importance of the Russian avant-garde books as an early c20 exploration of the medium makes Compton's works particularly important as a foundation.
Susan Compton, The World Backwards: Russian Futurist Books 1912-16 (London: British Museum, 1978).
Cathy Courtney, Facing the Page: British Artists' Books: A Survey 1983-1993 (London: Estampe, 1993).
Cathy Courtney, Speaking of Book Art (Los Altos Hills, California: Anderson-Lovelace, 1999). This British critic and scholar's interviews with numerous individuals in the field of artists' books.
Brad Freeman, Offset, exhibition catalogue (NY: 1992).
Renée and Judd Hubert, The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists' Books (NY: Granary, 1998); close readings of individual works by two fine scholars of literature and avant-garde art.
Renée Riese Hubert, Surrealism and the Book (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988); focused on the work of surrealist artists, the analysis is more literary than book-oriented and tends towards analysis of imagery and juxtaposition rather than form.
Julie Melby, editor, Splendid Pages, Toledo Museum of Art (2003). Deluxe catalogue to accompany an exhibition of works in the Walter Bareiss Collection. Beautifully produced, well-written, focused on livres d'artistes.
Anne Moeglin-Delcroix, L'Esthetique du livre d'artiste (Paris: Jean-Michel Place, 1997); a sophisticated discussion of conceptual art and the books produced within its purview; limited in scope but with considerable intellectual depth, provides some of the most thoughtful discussions and arguments about books within the field to date. Expensive, and well-illustrated, and not likely to ever appear in translation.
Robert Morgan, Commentaries on the New Media Arts: Fluxus and Conceptual Art, Artists' Books, Correspondence Art, Audio and Video Art (Pasadena: Umbrella Associates, 1992).
W. J. (Walter John) Strachan, The Artist and the Book in France (NY: Wittenborn, 1969); though focused primarily on the livre d'artiste and its fine press and printmaking traditions, this work is a useful introduction to the emergence of that uniquely c20 form.
Martha Wilson, Books as Art exhibition catalogue, (Boca Raton: Museum of Art, 1991), Wilson, as founder of the Franklin Furnace archive, provides a first-hand account of the years of book art from 1960 up through the early 1990s.