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ARTH 396 Art and Culture: Artists’ books

  • T & TH 15:00-17:30
  • EV-1-605
  • Instructor: Dr. Rachel Harris

This course offers historical and contemporary reflections on artists’ books as both art and book. As a form of art, these books challenge expectations of the codex as an object that packages textual information. As an object that maintains any number of characteristics of the book, artists’ books defy the boundaries between the visual arts, literature, and craft. Today more than ever, artists’ books offer moments to pause and consider the visual and textual literacies and the tactility at play in a culture that is forever consuming massive amounts of information.

We will begin by looking at the tradition of artists’ books in print culture and move on to discuss artists books in a number of manifestations, namely: deluxe books, chapbooks, photo-books, zines, picture books, pop-up books, word art books, sculptural books, installations, and digital books. While exploring techniques and honing our analytical skills, we will take a closer look at issues of production and circulation. What collaborative roles between paper-maker, typographer, artist, illustrator, writer, printer, binder, and publisher are involved? How might books as art forms circulate, enter collections for preservation, and be exhibited given their defiance of singular medium-based categories?  Finally, what do the books themselves have to say about our 21st-century information culture?

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