"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Books As Art

Book binding and authorship are art forms in and of themselves, but I have taken a recent interest in artists who use books as a medium. Literature and art are, in my opinion, intrinsically linked. Illustrated works, book jacket designs and curated publications of artwork are undeniably credible in their artistic merit, and although it is worth mentioning, it is a different subject entirely.

A somewhat recent artistic phenomenon features the deconstruction, reclamation and reconfiguration of texts. Oftentimes, the artist will incorporate and play on the themes of the literary work.

Uncovered by Thomas Allen is a prime example.

Artist Alex Itin premiered an animated piece entitled, "Orson Whales," which incorporates two copies of Moby Dick laden page-by-page with Itin's drawings. The audio is apparently taken from a Welles reading juxtaposed with Led Zeppelin.

A work by Robert The:

Accumulation is another common style in this particular medium.

A large scale installation entitled "The Defrauder" by Jonathan Callan is a great demonstration of this:

This particular work by Barton Lidicé Beneš is one that I am even more smitten with. His play on the ancient African practice of object accumulation as collected memory is brilliant.

The most prominent style, I would say, is the eradication of books to create an entirely new object.

One example from Cara Barer's porfolio:

Vito Drago's "Which Direction":

A work by Doug Beube:

My final example is from the Moleskine notebook exhibition at Detour. The clip features artist Antonio Jorge Gonçalves:

I must mention that this is one of countless examples. The exhibition is really worth investing time in.

It is nearly impossible to reference all of the contemporary artists who are working with this medium, and if there is an artist that you feel is worth noting that I've left out, I encourage you to make a note of them. This style of artwork is one that I find to be provocative and relevant to avid readers for its obvious qualities and correlations, as well as a refurbishment of a familiar concept and object.

- a

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