This guide is designed to provide an introduction to the literature of artists' books and to present a selection of artists' book holdings in the Stanford University Libraries.
Table of Contents
Use these bibliographies, subject headings, Web sites, and tips to begin your reseach in the history and development of the modern book arts. These topics are vast, and a single research guide will only scratch the surface. Particularly vexed is the distinction one can or cannot make between books (especially hand-bound and/or hand-printed ones) constructed as artistic objects (or containers of artistic objects, as in the livre d'artiste) and books that explore the form more conceptually, exploiting its qualities of seriality and mass production. Both types are treated here; for more on the latter type of artist’s book, see the primary sources listed in the Conceptual Art research guide. What is most important to consider in both cases is the artist's (or artists') primary role in a book's origination and development. Examples of and resources relating to artists' books and the book arts can be found in both the Art & Architecture and Green Libraries, particularly in Art Locked Stacks and Special Collections, respectively.
See a partial list of Stanford's artists' books in the Stanford Artists' Books Collection.
Relax (Zeitgeist) ©2009 Anna Hellsgård & Christian Gfeller
1 ¢ life.
Walasse Ting [edited by Sam Francis].
Bern, Switzerland, E.W. Kornfeld, 1964.
170 p. illus. (part. col.) 42 cm.
PS3570 .I5 O5 F ARTLCKL
Until the late 1950s, the creation of livres d’artistes had been mainly a European phenomenon. This expansive collection of lithographs housed within screenprinted boards is a relatively early example of a shift—in large part due to Pop art’s preoccupation with the multiple—toward American-led production of artists’ books. Twenty-eight American and European artists, mingling Pop, abstract, and Conceptualist sensibilities (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Pierre Alechinsky, Joan Mitchell, Karel Appel, Enrico Baj, Allan Kaprow, and Sam Francis, the book’s editor and organizer, among them), contributed sixty-two color lithographs. Walasse Ting, a Chinese-born American artist with ties to the Paris-based Cobra, composed the sixty-one poems that punctuate many of the pages. Focused upon New York, they describe particularities of life in the city—from street signs to poverty to love. The unbound signatures were printed in Paris in an edition of 2,100. The Library’s copy is number 170, signed by Francis, Ting, and Kornfeld.
5 year plan.
Aaron Sinift et al.
[Ridgewood, NY? : A. Sinift] 2010.
 leaves : chiefly col. ill. ; 34 x 34 cm. + 1 book (xii, 164 p. ; 18 cm.)
N7433.4 .S588 F5 2010 ARTLCKL
Inspired by jholas (simple Indian bags made of handspun cotton, decorated with commercial, political, or natural images), this collaborative artists' book--made of the same handspun khodi cotton--was created with Gandhi's goals of economic self-sufficiency and sustenance of valuable traditions in mind. Twenty-six artists, including Francesco Clemente and Yoko Ono, contributed their images to the project; the fabric, produced by artisans in India, was silkscreened with these images and then hand-sewn into a cloth codex. In conceiving this project, Aaron Sinift's goals were to support the tradition of handmade goods in India; to pay respect to Gandhi's lasting accomplishments; to establish a participatory practice; and, finally, to create a beautiful object.
San Francisco, Calif.? : Scott Williams, 2008?]
 p. : all col. ill. ; 31 cm.
N7433.4 .W547 A75 2008 F ARTLCKS
Known for his collaborations with other San Francisco artists, this year-and-a-half solo effort by Williams showcases the stenciling and airbrushing technique he has used in other works such as Watch Your Step and Collect Call from the Spirit World. But with Anti Alert! Williams moves into new territory, collaging stencils onto pages and even cutting out the pages themselves to produce stencils within the book. The cut and collaged pages are stenciled with a variety of inks, including translucent inks that shimmer as the pages turn. The result is a very dense, image-laden piece that strongly reflects the stencil/spray can graffiti qualities associated with San Francisco “Mission School” street art. A complementary text runs through the book, the words either stenciled onto or cut out of the pages, such that one reads simultaneously on and through each page's surface. The pages are thick and weighty due to the layering of paper and ink, each one a physical and palpable construction that requires the viewer to engage with and appreciate the artist's effort and method.
Die Neue Stadt.
[Dieser Psalm wurde von Josef Luitpold geschrieben ; von O.R. Schatz in den Jahren 1926-1927 in Holz geschnitten]
Berlin : Verlag Büchergilde Gutenberg, [1927?] (Berlin : Buchdruckwerkstätte G.m.b.h.)
 p. : ill. ; 43 cm.
PT2639 .T479 N48 1927 F ARTLCKL
Following closely after Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit [New Objectivity] emerged in Germany as a loose association of artistic sentiments promulgated by painters and illustrators, as well as photographers, architects, and writers. Although manifestations of this “style” vary, it can be typified by its emphasis on realism vs. abstraction or romanticism, its utilization of pre-machine age techniques and genres, and its comparatively sober reaction—explicit or implied—to the tumultuous political events of the post-WWI Weimar era.
Die Neue Stadt is both a representation of New Objectivity’s articulation in Austria and a demonstration of Expressionism’s continuing aesthetic influence there. The text is steeped in the ideals of social democracy, a relatively moderate political ideology popular in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere before and after World War I. The poem takes the form of a modern psalm; Luitpold Stern believed that the political and social rebirth he envisioned for Vienna could be encompassing and transcendent. Otto Rudolf Schatz’s illustrations reiterate this optimistic social bent, representing as they do citizens undertaking symbolic activities of reconstruction, collective study, and political assembly. The images’ appearance, however, is more typically Expressionist, echoing the work of German printmakers such as Erich Heckel, Gerhard Marcks, and Conrad Felixmüller.
Tragic book 1-9.
[Brooklyn, N.Y.] : Artichoke Yink Press, 1993-2005.
N7433.35 .U6 T73 V.1-9 ARTLCKS/M/L
Tragic Book is a set of nine collaborative artists' books organized by book artist Christopher Wilde and published by his Artichoke Yink Press. As Wilde himself describes it, the books were conceived as “the opposite of a comic book…a compendium of tragedies large and small.” What this meant in practice, however, evolved over the twelve years. At the beginning, in 1993, the youthful content was focused upon the odd and disgusting; the aesthetic was very “’zine:” hand-drawn, photocopied, and staple-bound. Issue number three (1993) moved beyond staple binding, but the grotesque aesthetic continued in the production of latex covers molded to resemble vomit. By 2001, the year in which issue number eight was produced, the concept of tragedy had become much more tangible, the events of September 11 having taken place outside Wilde’s window in the midst of the issue’s production. The book itself had by this time moved into the realm of fine press production: number eight is traditionally bound in small format, printed using multiple processes including letterpress and lithography, and covered in commercially produced lenticular images. Indeed, one of the series’ most interesting aspects is its stylistic evolution which parallels the publisher’s and artists’ increasing commitment to the project as well as the maturing of their own careers. Some of the artists (including Mark Wagner, Marshall Weber, and Scott Teplin) have, in fact, gone on to establish quite successful careers in visual art and poetry in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Each issue exists in an edition that corresponds roughly with the number of contributors. Contributors were not paid for their efforts, and no issues were offered for sale; accordingly, Stanford's copies are the first to be held in any library collection.
Steamboat Springs, Colo. : Akimbo Arts, 2008.
hand-printed v. (unpaged) : col. ; 36 cm. in box.
N7433.4 .W35 V66 2008 F ARTLCKM
Wait's one-of-a-kind artist's book, the eighth in a larger nine-book project, is a visual and textual exploration of spiral and labyrinth forms. It is also a beautiful example of several printing techniques--etching, collotype, and woodcut, punctuated by hand painting and writing--combined within a single work. Not simply a series of individually decorated pages, Volute demonstrates the way in which the codex form can be used outside of narrative, to guide the viewer from one image to the next through an incitement to visual meditation.
SOMA : Guarding the body.
by Alan Loney.
Malvern East, Vic, Australia : Electio Editions, 2008.
 p. : col. ill. ; 24 cm.
N7433.4 .L64 S66 2008 ARTLCKS
Loney's letterpressed volume, handbound and printed on handmade paper, is an exceptional contemporary example of this traditional printing process. Letterpress is a form of relief printing that utilizes movable type--traditionally of metal or wood--to produce pages for large or small editions. SOMA: Guarding the Body utilizes the form in a somewhat self-reflexive way: many of its images are constructed from elements used in the process of letterpress printing itself (the so-called "typographic images" noted in the title), such as brass spacers and rules. And the text, a hybrid of translated pre-Socratic texts and Loney's own poetic additions, includes implied and explicit descriptions of words as tangible entities, a sensibility underscored by the tactile quality of the letterpress printing. The text literally and figuratively merges with the page and with the accompanying images, allowing the book to form a single entity, a livre d'artiste.