Though much disputed over the decades, the term ‘artist’s book’ has a well-recognized definition that draws on historical traditions of book production and conception now part of the current wide field of practice. Broadly understood, an artist’s book is any work of original art created in the Book format. By this definition, an artist’s book is work that does not exist in any other form, is not a reproduction of pre-existing work, and is created as a book as the first instantiation and expression of a project. Artists’ books range from inexpensive multiples to one-of-a-kind artefacts and make use of every imaginable production and reproduction technology as well as taking a wide variety of forms. Artists’ books need not be made entirely by an artist, do not have to carry the signs of being handmade or unique, and have no particular constraints on the content, themes, or concerns they raise or the contexts in which they circulate. Even with such a broad scope in the definition, the artist’s book is readily identified because it takes the book as its primary mode of expression and is a work that comes into being as a book....
(b Chongqing, 1955).
Chinese installation artist . Xu Bing spent much of his childhood in Beijing where his parents were professors at Beijing University. He said that being surrounded by books during this formative period in his life gave him an intense interest in them. Xu studied printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1987). One of Xu’s most memorable early works is Tian Shu ( A Book from the Sky , 1987–91), which was created during the 1985 New Wave Movement in China—a period of new-found freedom for artistic experimentation. Tian Shu consisted of reams of paper printed with Chinese characters, each one in some way incorrect, so that the cumulative effect is a library of nonsensical words. The labour needed to create this art work was substantial, taking the artist nearly four years to complete carving the individual characters into woodblocks. The reams of printed paper were exhibited in three different ways: as traditional hand-bound books, suspended large scrolls, and wall posters. ...
French organization founded in Poitiers in 1953. The Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale (CECSM) is affiliated with the Université de Poitiers, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. The founders, among them historian Edmond-René Labande and art historian René Crozet, began CESCM as a month-long interdisciplinary study of medieval civilization, inviting foreign students to participate. CESCM has since developed into a permanent organization but maintains the international and interdisciplinary focus of its founders.
CESCM continues to hold its formative summer session, known as ‘Les Semaines d’études médiévales’, and invites advanced graduate students of all nationalities. The summer session spans two weeks and includes sessions on a variety of topics, each conducted by a member or affiliate of CESCM. CESCM supports collaborative research groups and regularly holds colloquia attended by the international scholarly community.
Since 1958 CECSM has published ...
Catherine M. Grant
(b Paris, after 1945).
French performance and installation artist, painter, bookmaker, furniture and interior furnishings designer. Chaimowicz moved to England as a child, studying at Ealing College of Art (1963–5), Camberwell College of Art (1965–8) and the Slade School of Art (1968–70). Whilst completing his MA at the Slade, Chaimowicz decided to abandon painting, and started to make performance work, such as Celebration? Real Life (1972; performed at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Gallery House, London). For the duration of each show, Chaimowicz lived within the domestic space that he had created, serving coffee to visitors to the gallery. His work during the 1970s and early 1980s concentrated on performances in imaginary, idealised domestic spaces, with fragmented narratives and symbolic actions. Partial Eclipse (1980–82) consisted of Chaimowicz walking in a figure of eight in front of and behind a screen on which slides of his apartment/studio were projected, whilst a female voice recounted fragments of meetings, situations and relationships (see ...
Margarita González Arredondo
(b Mexico City, June 10, 1940).
Mexican painter, sculptor, illustrator and stage designer. He was self-taught when he took up painting in 1956 with the encouragement of Diego Rivera, but from 1956 to 1960 he studied graphic design with Gordon Jones. During those years he worked in an Abstract Expressionist manner, although he soon incorporated figurative elements and, from c. 1963, elements of fantasy. In 1967 he went to Paris on a French government grant. In the following year he was a founder-member of the Salón Independiente, where he began to exhibit acrylic sculptures of the female torso. These were followed between 1974 and 1976 by a series entitled Mutations, in which he explored the possibilities of the cube and which opened the way to later sculptures and paintings in which geometry is balanced with sensuality. Venus and Mars (Mexico City, U. N. Autónoma) is one of the best of his public sculptures. He also worked as a stage designer, for example on a production in ...
(b Romford, Essex, May 3, 1950).
English painter, draughtsman and illustrator. After studying in London at St Martin’s School of Art (1968–72) and at the Royal College of Art (1972–5), Crowley began painting in a playful post-Cubist idiom. In works such as So and Sew (1980; see 1983 exh. cat., p. 4) he addressed himself for the first time to the subject of the domestic interior, which was to remain a prime concern. The comically charged and manic atmosphere of this early work, in which the excessive energy of a seamstress’s actions seems to have exploded the figure into its constituent elements, still draws on the elements of abstraction and schematization of Crowley’s painting of the mid- to late 1970s; the flatness that had characterized the earlier works, however, has here given way to strongly modelled, volumetric forms contained within a strongly recessive space. It was as Artist-in-Residence to Oxford University in the ...
(b Philadelphia, PA, Aug 30, 1943).
American illustrator and cartoonist. Crumb became prominent during the 1960s as one of the key figures in the development of the Underground Comix movement, which was comprised of a number of different artists who self-published comic books that addressed distinctly personal and often controversial themes. His work is frequently associated with the counterculture of that period and is notable for his candid depictions of drug use and sex. Although he was self-trained, he spent much of the early 1960s working as a greeting card illustrator in Cleveland, and he later went to work for the former Mad magazine illustrator Harvey Kurtzman’s Help! In 1967, he moved to San Francisco where he began to self-publish such comic books as Zap Comix, Despair and The People’s Comics that often featured characters such as Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat. Many of these comics also included contributions by other significant cartoonists of the period such as S. Clay Wilson (...
Maria Elena Buszek
(b Toronto, 1958).
Canadian photographer, video artist, and writer, active in USA. Davey variously studied design, drawing, and painting at Montreal’s Concordia University, finally settling on photography, in which she received a BFA in 1982. She later earned an MFA at the University of California San Diego, and began post-graduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1988. Frustrated by the tendencies of such contemporaries as Andreas Gursky and Gregory Crewdson to, as she put it, ‘overproduce, overenlarge, overconsume’, Davey sought rather to draw on ‘the inherently surrealist, contingent, “found” quality of the vernacular photograph’(Davey 2014).
Davey’s photographs and videos consist predominantly of quiet vignettes from everyday life: homes filled with dusty, over-stuffed shelves, crammed with books, albums, bottles, and art supplies, and tables with momentary arrangements of these objects in use; lovingly rendered still-lifes of the near extinct, ad-hoc displays of button vendors, newsstands, and hi-fi equipment; always suggesting but rarely depicting the acquisitive, inquisitive people living and working in these humble, very much lived-in spaces. Her breakthrough ...
Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom
(b. Bandırma, 1935).
Turkish calligrapher, marbler, and connoisseur. He attended high school at Haydarpaşa Lisesi and then graduated from the School of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at Istanbul University. He worked as a pharmacist until 1977, when he became the director of the Türkpetrol Foundation, a position he held until 2007. Derman studied calligraphy and the arts of the book with many of the leading experts in Istanbul, including Mahir Iz, Süheyl Ünver, Macid Ayral, Halim Özyazıcı and Necmeddin Okyay, often said to have been the last representative of the Ottoman tradition of book arts. Derman received his license to practice in 1380/1960 following the traditional Ottoman system by replicating a copy (taqlīd) of a quatrain in nasta‛līq (Turk. ta‛līq) by the Safavid expert Mir ‛Imad. In the fall of 1985 he joined the faculty of Marmara University and Mimar Sinan University (formerly the State Academy of Fine Arts), where formal instruction in calligraphy was reinstituted in ...
(b Grand Rapids, MI, May 24, 1943).
African American graphic designer and illustrator. Douglas studied commercial art at the City College of San Francisco, learning graphic processes and techniques that allowed him to combine visual skill and message into art. He worked with the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in the San Francisco Bay Area and, as the artist and Minister of Culture for the organization, Douglas worked on its newspaper, The Black Panther, from 1967 until it stopped production in 1978. The party’s co-founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, along with Eldridge Cleaver, combined alternative news and illustrations by Douglas and others to counteract mainstream media presentations of issues affecting black people and other people of colour throughout the world.
The Black Panther Party believed in art as a weapon of political empowerment and Douglas was given the title of ‘revolutionary artist’. The party’s ten-point programme demanded an end to racism’s effects on housing, employment, health, education, and incarceration. Police brutality was the primary issue in black communities that led to the party’s initial formation. Douglas’s signature cartoons in ...
(b Priwall, nr Travemünde, 1947).
German performance artist. From 1966 to 1973 she studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg. In the mid-1970s she began to design performances and record them in book or script form. Her performances were rituals involving the audience as active participants and were characteristically conducted with theatrical verve and a great sense of humour. They involved sensual experience (e.g. smells, in Luggage of Scents, 1988) and frequently incorporated herbs or spices. The Conference of Plants with Choice of the Peace Plant (see 1983 exh. cat.), performed in Oslo, Kiel, Bonn, Marseille and Hamburg in 1981–3, required every audience member to bring a plant from which they used extracts for gargling, for facial steam baths and for hand and foot massages. The event culminated in the audience’s election of one plant as the ‘peace plant’. A number of Fischer’s performances commented on activities traditionally associated with women (e.g. ...
American library in Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN, founded in 1965. The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML; formerly the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library) contains over 115,000 microfilm and digital images of medieval, Renaissance, early modern and Eastern Christian manuscripts. To fulfil its mission of preserving endangered manuscripts and making them more accessible to scholars, HMML photographs entire manuscript libraries that lack the resources to preserve their own collections, are inaccessible to researchers, or are in immediate danger of destruction. Until 2003, HMML photographed entire manuscripts on black and white microfilm and shot selected illuminations in colour. When the Library switched to digital photography in 2003, it shot entire volumes in colour and recorded codicological information.
The vast majority of HMML’s holdings reproduce texts predating 1600. Nearly half of HMML’s Western manuscripts derive from libraries in Austria and Germany, but HMML also houses significant collections from Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and England. The Maltese collections are particularly important and include the Archives of the Knights of Malta. HMML has photographed collections of Eastern Christian manuscripts since the 1970s, and its collections of Armenian, Syriac, and Christian Arabic manuscripts are becoming the most significant resource for the study of Eastern Christian manuscripts in the world. HMML has by far the world’s largest collection of Ethiopian manuscripts preserved on microfilm and in digital form....
(b Najaf, 1944).
Iraqi calligrapher, painter, printmaker and writer, active in Paris (see fig.). He studied painting and calligraphy in Baghdad from 1960 to 1969, and in 1969 exhibited his work at the Iraqi Artists’ Society exhibition and at the French Cultural Centre in Baghdad. The same year he went to Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until 1975. Thereafter he lived in Paris. Although influenced by traditional calligraphy, he developed his own calligraphic style, which incorporated painterly elements. In many of his works, for example Je suis le feu tapi dans la pierre. Si tu es de ceux qui font jailler l’étincelle alors frappe (1984; Paris, Inst. Monde Arab.), he employed proverbs and quotations from a range of sources. He also researched and wrote about Arabic calligraphy.
(b Lubin, Poland, Sept 11, 1967).
Polish draughtsman, sculptor, video, performance, and mixed media artist, active in the USA. She grew up in Sweden, where she studied Communications at Schillerska/Gothenburg University in Gothenburg from 1986 to 1987. After moving to New York, Mir earned her BFA for Media Arts at the School of Visual Arts in 1992, and from 1994 to 1996 she studied Cultural Anthropology at the New School for Social Research.
Mir’s practice as an artist refers to popular culture in general, focusing on images and ideas that influence and represent social reality, and investigating popular myths and technologies such as the cinematographic representation of images. The journey to the moon, for example, symbolizing the dominance of the United States during the Cold War, receives through Mir’s appropriation in First Woman on the Moon (1999) a critical reflection, taking into consideration patriarchal power structures as well as the apparent staging of reality through mass media. In her work ...
(b Jerusalem, Dec 14, 1926; d Jerusalem, June 29, 2008).
Israeli art historian of Jewish art. Educated first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he moved to London and earned an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute (1959) and a PhD at the Warburg Institute (1962). Returning to Jerusalem, Narkiss rose steadily through the ranks from 1963 when he began teaching at the Hebrew University and, in 1984, was appointed Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History. He also held fellowships and visiting positions at: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC (1969–70); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1979–80); the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (1983), Brown University in Providence, RI (1984–5); the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (1987–8); the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC (Samuel H. Kress Professor ...
(b Dallas, TX, June 24, 1951).
American photographer. Nicosia studied Radio, Television and Film at the University of North Texas, Denton, completing his studies in 1974. His early photographic work used a frenetic comic book style, with actors expressively posed in front of bizarre hand painted backdrops, as in Near (Modern) Disaster no. 5 (1983; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 51). Nicosia moved away from such cartoon-style work and began to make more considered, although still staged, portraits such as Danny & Conny (1985; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 54). With his Real Pictures series, Nicosia moved out of contrived studio situations and used actors outdoors, as well as black-and-white film in pursuit of greater realism. Works such as Real Pictures no. 8 (1989; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 55), a dispassionately framed image of a man threatening a clown from his car, showed Nicosia’s interest in a collision of the morbid and the absurd. Nicosia subsequently made works both in the studio, such as ...
(b Tucson, AZ, June 16, 1957).
American draughtsman. He completed his BFA at UCLA, CA, in 1977. He is best known for acerbic drawings that pitilessly critique contemporary culture. Using the comic-book format of images with text, he began his career creating photocopied fanzines. Taking as one of his primary themes the failure of the 1960s’ subculture to resist authority, he savaged the hippy ethos, such as in an untitled drawing (1984; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 14) depicting a man resembling Charles Manson holding a bloodied knife near some dismembered feet; the text reads ‘somebody lit up a joint’. Distinguishing his work from the conceptual art that preceded him, Pettibon combined text and image to poetic and darkly lyrical ends rather than for intellectual or philosophical purposes. His use of text has more in common with that of Jenny Holzer or Barbara Kruger, in that the speaking voice seldom comes from one stable absolute position. Instead the text reads as a fragmented decentralized narrative, often ending abruptly without conclusion. The drawing style is also presented as a language, employed in such a way as to have the most direct communicative power. A variety of characters including semi-naked women, baseball players, surfers and comic-book figures are placed in a world of dark satire and metaphysical musings about art, as in ...
The term ‘photobook’ is of relatively recent origin and is used to make a qualitative distinction from the majority of photographically illustrated books. It may be seen as a ‘literary novel’ of photographic books, denoting a certain creative ambition on its author’s part. The American photographer, John Gossage, defined the four cardinal virtues of the successful photobook as follows:
Firstly, it should contain great work. Secondly, it should make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content that sustains an ongoing interest (Parr and Badger (2004), p. 7).
In Gossage’s view, photographic quality is the primary factor, and this generally pertains in the field of photobook literature. Most of the key works are by photography’s leading figures, and contribute to the overall development of photographic aesthetics. However, the bringing together of imagery, theme, and the physical book package is a complex art, and bad photographs do not necessarily make for bad photobooks if other virtues become apparent. Furthermore, photographers who may be relatively unknown in the canon of ‘great’ photographers can occupy an honoured place in photobook history. The photobook is both part of the overall history of photography yet also semi-detached from it....
Catherine M. Grant
(b Reinthal, Switzerland, June 21, 1962).
Swiss video artist and installation artist. Her unusual first name comes from the joining of her given name with her nickname Pipi, after the storybook character Pippi Longstocking. She trained at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, studying commercial art, illustration and photography (1982–6). At this time she was making animated cartoons and building stage sets for bands, which influenced her later practice with its MTV aesthetic and fast, colourful scenes. She then went on to study audio-visual design at the Schule für Gestaltung, Basle, graduating in 1988 and later settling in Zurich. Her video I’m Not a Girl Who Misses Much (1986; see 1996 exh. cat.) demonstrates her interest in stretching the technical possibilities of the medium, for example by distorting the picture or by speeding up and slowing down the image, so that the medium becomes integral to the theme rather than simply a method of documentation. In this work Rist sings and screams the title refrain, echoing the opening lines of the Beatles song, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, like a pretty pop icon pushed over the edge into hysteria. Rist’s work tends not to have a strong narrative; instead the images and sounds produce an open-ended, intense situation, with the protagonist (often herself) presented as a warped version of the glamorous, vacant girls of advertising. She also incorporates her videos into installations, as in ...
(b Washington, DC, Oct 6, 1948).
American graphic designer, illustrator, painter, and art educator. Throughout her schooling she attended art classes at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC. She entered the undergraduate programme at the Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, PA, in 1966 and was awarded a BFA in 1970. While at Tyler she learned concept development from Steve Tarantel and was encouraged to illustrate typography while studying under album cover designer Stanislaw Zagorski (b 1933). With a new-found interest in typography, she began to integrate words into designs without the rigid structure of the popular Swiss International Style.
Scher moved to New York City after graduation and took her first job as a layout artist for Random House children’s book division. Within a year she accepted a position designing advertising and promotions for CBS Records, an experience that taught her to develop and execute concepts quickly. In 1973 she became art director for Atlantic Records and in ...