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Artist Books

The Rare Book Room includes a collection of Artist Books, dating from the late 1920s to the present. All are limited editions; some are one-of-a kind, and all are beautiful. Here are some of the titles in our collection.

What is an artist book?

What is an Artist Book?

According to a June 1, 2012 blog entry in Unbound from the Smithsonian Libraries,

"The simple answer to someone not familiar with artists’ books might be: art in book form. But they are not quite so simple…

An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of “book” as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object. A book that only contains text is simply a book; even if authored by an artist, it would be a book that belongs in a book store or the shelves of a library.

What truly makes an artist’s book is the artist’s intent, and artists have used the book as inspiration in a myriad of ways and techniques, from traditional to the experimental. The book could be made through fine press printing or hand-crafted, the pages illustrated with computer-generated images or cheap photocopies; books became sculptures, tiny and gargantuan; books were sliced up and reconfigured, made from all kinds of materials with unconventional objects incorporated, in unique or limited editions, or produced in multiple copies. With all sorts of ideas behind them, artists continue to challenge the idea, content and structure of the traditional book."

If you'd like to see any of these artist books, email archives@davidson.edu to make an appointment.

An Artist Book depicting a black and white etching of an artist selling his soul An Artist Book showing a "visual poem"An Artist Book showing a collage of leaves

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