Special Issue "Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (6 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Chris Taylor
Website
Guest Editor
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT Leeds, UK
Interests: artists’ books; collaborative practice; contemporary art; drawing; printmaking

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the early 1970s, the origins of artists' books has been extensively discussed and documented (Drücker, Lauf, Lippard, Phillpot, etc.), yet the genre continues to generate new questions and paradoxes regarding its place and status within the visual arts as a primary medium. Whilst the conception of contemporary artists' books lay in the medium's potential for dissemination via mass production and portability, opportunities for distribution remain limited to a select number of outlets worldwide or, as an alternative, through the growing number but time-limited artists' book fairs, such as the established events in Barcelona, Berlin, Bristol, Leeds, London, New York and Seoul.

In parallel with the development of screen-based digital technologies and social media platforms, we have experienced an exponential production of artists' books in contemporary art practice, craft and design. This has been a quiet revolution that emerged from both the centre and the fringes of the art world over six decades ago, developing relatively quickly as a gallery commodity through artefact/exhibition catalogue cross-overs, and more recently as a significant discipline in its own right within educational establishments. This begs the question, why, in an era of potentially print-free communication, do we continue to pursue the possibilities of the physical book format? What can the traditional structures of the codex, the leporello, the single section or that most basic and satisfying action of creasing a sheet of paper—the folio—offer the tech savvy audience or maker? 

What is the particular place within visual communication that the artists' book, the photo book or the zine holds, that other media or digital technologies fail to embrace?

Dr. Chris Taylor
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • artists' books
  • artists' publications
  • book works
  • the library
  • site-specific
  • space of the page
  • letterpress
  • typography
  • collections
  • archives

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Books, Scrolls and Ripples: In Search of an Audience through the Printed Works of Helen Douglas
Arts 2020, 9(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010035 - 05 Mar 2020
Abstract
In this interview, artist and small press publisher Dr. Helen Douglas appraises the development of the artist’s book from its emergence in the 1950s and 1960s to seeking public recognition as a bone fide art form in the mid-1970s, through to the current [...] Read more.
In this interview, artist and small press publisher Dr. Helen Douglas appraises the development of the artist’s book from its emergence in the 1950s and 1960s to seeking public recognition as a bone fide art form in the mid-1970s, through to the current global attention that it now attracts. Notions of the mass-produced and the handmade are questioned and examined in light of the freedom, cheapness and accessibility of digital technologies versus the time and labour of the artist in search of the haptic, intimate and conceptually complex experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
“Fragile Possibilities”: The Role of the Artist’s Book in Public Art
Arts 2020, 9(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010032 - 27 Feb 2020
Abstract
Writing during the millennium, not long after the installation of Antony Gormley’s The Angel of the North, artist and publisher Simon Cutts criticised the dominance of monumentalism within the field of public art. Decrying the lack of critical engagement offered by public [...] Read more.
Writing during the millennium, not long after the installation of Antony Gormley’s The Angel of the North, artist and publisher Simon Cutts criticised the dominance of monumentalism within the field of public art. Decrying the lack of critical engagement offered by public sculpture, he called for an alternative approach, focussed upon process rather than product. Almost two decades later, it could be argued that mainstream understandings of public art have expanded to incorporate more ephemeral approaches, such as performance, sound art and social interventions. Within this context, the artist’s book has come to occupy a significant role within the production, dissemination and interpretation of such work. This has been accompanied by a growing interest in the artist’s book as a public artwork in its own right. These two distinct yet interrelated approaches form the subject of our essay. Drawing on examples of artists’ books held in the Special Collections at Manchester Metropolitan University and the library collections at Henry Moore Institute as well as from our own curatorial practice, we argue that, far from ancillary artefacts, artists’ books play a pivotal role within the production of public art and provide an important space in which to critically engage with the complexities of place. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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Open AccessArticle
It’s All in the Reading
Arts 2020, 9(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010019 - 10 Feb 2020
Abstract
It seems inherent in the nature of contemporary artist’s book production to continue to question the context for the genre in contemporary art practice, notwithstanding the medium’s potential for dissemination via mass production and an unquestionable advantage of portability for distribution. Artists, curators [...] Read more.
It seems inherent in the nature of contemporary artist’s book production to continue to question the context for the genre in contemporary art practice, notwithstanding the medium’s potential for dissemination via mass production and an unquestionable advantage of portability for distribution. Artists, curators and editors operating in this sector look to create contexts for books in a variety of imaginative ways, through exhibition, commission, installations, performance and, of course as documentation. Broadening the discussion of the idea of the book within contemporary art practice, this paper examines the presence and role of book works within the context of the art biennale, in particular the Venice Art Biennale of which the 58th iteration (2019) is entitled ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’ and curated by Ralph Rugoff, with an overview of the independent International cultural offerings and the function of the ‘Book Pavilion’. Venetian museums and institutions continue to present vibrant diverse works within the arena of large-scale exhibitions, recognising the position that the book occupies in the history of the city. This year, the appearance for the first time, of ‘Book Biennale’, opens up a new and interesting dialogue, taking the measure of how the book is being promoted and its particular function for visual communication within the arts in Venice and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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Open AccessArticle
The Great Orbital Run (or the M25 in 4000 Images)
Arts 2020, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010008 - 12 Jan 2020
Abstract
The Great Orbital Run was a solitary run/artwork that took place over nine days around the inside boundary of the M25 London Orbital. The journey was mapped through a stream of photographs and GPS coordinates relayed live from a mobile phone to a [...] Read more.
The Great Orbital Run was a solitary run/artwork that took place over nine days around the inside boundary of the M25 London Orbital. The journey was mapped through a stream of photographs and GPS coordinates relayed live from a mobile phone to a web interface and shown as a projected artwork at the University of Greenwich, London. It was later re-configured as the M25 in 4000 images, a unique concertina bookwork/sculpture produced from digital data into tangible, printed paper form. Cut, folded, and constructed by hand, it makes visible the mass of images that embody the running activity and the terrain it represents. This essay considers this artwork and its status as a document and artist’s book, reflecting on (1) the original running activity, (2) the mapping of the boundary of Greater London, (3) the performance of technology in relaying the run, and (4) the transformation of digital images into material form. The document is considered in relation to the run as a performance and in relation to its performative potential. This is extended to the documentary properties of the artists’ book as ‘a form of three-dimensional representation’ that, through its ‘agency’, aligns itself with spatial practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring Appropriation as a Creative Practice
Arts 2019, 8(4), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040152 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
During the 1960s and 1970s, Ed Ruscha produced a series of 16 small, self-published books that became a catalyst for how artists could approach the book form. This reputation has grown through the subsequent decades, and his influence on book artists remains strong [...] Read more.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Ed Ruscha produced a series of 16 small, self-published books that became a catalyst for how artists could approach the book form. This reputation has grown through the subsequent decades, and his influence on book artists remains strong to this day to the extent that his books have been, and continue to be, appropriated across the world by successive generations of artists. Writing from a practitioner perspective, I will begin by looking at how Ruscha has become so influential to generations of book artists. I will look at what influenced him, and how he may possibly have appropriated the work of others. I will then focus in on the community of book artists who reference Ruscha’s books in their practice. The research of Ruscha’s books is embodied in each of these individual outcomes, but I will show that it is through the collective act and the bringing together of all of these books, through the community, that the work/s gain currency, strengthening both the Ruscha books and those that have come after. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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Open AccessArticle
The Artist’s Book in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Walter Benjamin and the Artist’s Book
Arts 2019, 8(4), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040138 - 21 Oct 2019
Abstract
Walter Benjamin, who was familiar with the pre-Second World War avant-garde, argued that mechanization threatens the aura of art objects. The digital revolution has been seen as reconfirming Benjamin’s thesis, but the digital can be seen to reaffirm the value of the actual, [...] Read more.
Walter Benjamin, who was familiar with the pre-Second World War avant-garde, argued that mechanization threatens the aura of art objects. The digital revolution has been seen as reconfirming Benjamin’s thesis, but the digital can be seen to reaffirm the value of the actual, physical artist’s book, and moreover, artists have exploited the digital—as technologies and subject matter—to make artists’ books. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
Open AccessArticle
Artists’ Books as Resistant Transmitters
Arts 2019, 8(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040129 - 09 Oct 2019
Abstract
Since the early 1970s, the origins of artists’ books have been extensively discussed and documented (Drücker, Lauf, Lippard, Phillpot, Gilbert et al.), yet the genre continues to generate new questions and paradoxes regarding its place and status within the visual arts as a [...] Read more.
Since the early 1970s, the origins of artists’ books have been extensively discussed and documented (Drücker, Lauf, Lippard, Phillpot, Gilbert et al.), yet the genre continues to generate new questions and paradoxes regarding its place and status within the visual arts as a primary medium. Whilst the conception of contemporary artists’ books lay in the medium’s potential for dissemination via mass production and portability, opportunities for distribution remain limited to a select number of outlets worldwide or, as an alternative, through the growing in number but time-limited artists’ book fairs, such as those established events in Barcelona, Berlin, Bristol, Leeds, London, New York and Seoul. In parallel with the development of screen-based digital technologies and social media platforms, we have experienced the exponential production of artists’ books in contemporary art practice, craft and design; a quiet revolution that emerged from both the centre and the fringes of the art world over six decades ago, developing relatively quickly as a gallery commodity through artefact/exhibition catalogue cross-overs, and more recently as a significant discipline in its own right within educational establishments. This begs the question, why, in an era of potentially print-free communication, do we continue to pursue the possibilities of the physical book format? What can the traditional structures of the codex, the leporello, the single section or that most basic and satisfying action of creasing a sheet of paper—the folio—offer the tech-savvy audience or maker? But artists’ publications offer alternative platforms for visual communication, resistant to formal forms of presentation, and they appeal to the hand and can question what it means to read in this digital age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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Other

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Open AccessEssay
Visceral Language: A Phenomenological Approach to Contemporary Letterpress-Printed Artist’s Book Practice in the UK
Arts 2019, 8(4), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040151 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
The decline of commercial letterpress printing and technological advances in industry were major influential factors with respect to the establishment of independent small presses in the United Kingdom (UK). Although unlike work from commercial, private or fine press printers, utilisation of the letterpress [...] Read more.
The decline of commercial letterpress printing and technological advances in industry were major influential factors with respect to the establishment of independent small presses in the United Kingdom (UK). Although unlike work from commercial, private or fine press printers, utilisation of the letterpress process embedded a phenomenological approach to artist-led publishing where physicality and experience of using the letterpress process was reflected within the practice of making artists’ books and printed matter. Major concepts and inclusion of tools, equipment, technologies and studio methods used in historical small publishing practice can be considered in relation to today’s practitioners making letterpress-printed artists’ books to understand how skills are learnt and developed to support the evolution of a reflexive approach within contemporary practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artists’ Books: Concept, Place, and a Quiet Revolution)
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