Artist book

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Artists' books are works of art in their own right that have generally made the book the subject of an artistic concept; in contemporary art, these concepts also transcended the boundaries of the book as an object. Artist books are created as original work by the artist's hand or, based on the idea of ​​the multiple, also appear in authorized editions.

Offerings at the Crossroads
artist book by Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry (2007)

Appearance of artist books

In the 1920s, artists from various art movements began to experiment with the book as a medium. The artist's book was anticipated, for example, by manifestos , pamphlets and publications by Dada (“Dada magazines”), by Kurt Schwitters , Raoul Hausmann or by the Bauhaus books. A feeling was developed for the fact that books are a communicative medium and that these can enable an escape from the firmly established regular places of art towards a broader public and the communicative networking of artists with one another.

In the 1960s, with the advent of conceptual art and Fluxus , first came - in addition to small boxes , limited edition objects and drawings - the shape of the international in small numbered edition printed artist books on. They reported actions, friendships and situations "which had the advantage of being able to be mailed in order to maintain the amicable communicative system." Fluxus' approach of being an art for everyone with the utopia showed how printed matter could be disseminated quickly ideas and strategies can be used.

Concept books, object books, collages , leporellos , scrolls , notebooks , loose-leaf collections , intermedia boxes or multiples made from a wide variety of materials are still produced today, both in small editions and as series products ; the traditional form of the book, consisting of printed pages between book covers, is varied by the artists or is often called into question.


The Mexican artist and writer Ulises Carrión defined “the new art of bookmaking” for the first time in an essay in 1975 . In several chapters he explains “what a book is”, going into more detail on the role of “prose and poetry”, “space”, “language”, “structures” and “reading”. He originally wrote the essay in Spanish (published in Plural No. 41 in Mexico City). It was published in English in 1975 in context No 6/7 in Amsterdam in a slightly abbreviated form. A German translation (by Hubert Kretschmer) was first in the Frankfurt art magazine skyscraper in October 1982 (issue 3/82) published .

Artist books (selection)

Candide 1st cap. chassa Candide du château à grands coups de pied dans le derrière , 1911, pen on paper on cardboard, Zentrum Paul Klee , Bern


Ed Ruscha: Twentysix Gasoline Stations , 1963

The 60s: Fluxus, concept, pop

  • Art & Language : Art-Language The journal of Conceptual Art (1969–1985)
  • Geology (1967)
  • Air Show (1967)
  • The French Army (1968)
  • Olivet Discourse (1971)
  • Joseph Beuys : 1a fried fish bone . Edition Hundertmark , Berlin 1972
  • George Brecht : Water Yam . Fluxus Editions, Wiesbaden, New York 1963
  • Stanley Brouwn : Steps . Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1971
  • This Way Brown: 25-2-61: 26-2-61 . Verlag Gebrüder König, Cologne 1971
  • Axel Heibel : When everything is shown, there is nothing more to see . Book objects. Suermondt Ludwig Museum, Aachen 1998
  • Ray Johnson : The Paper Snake . Something Else Press , New York 1965
  • Correspondences . Flammarion, Paris 1999
  • Alison Knowles : House of Dust . Publishing house Gebrüder König, Cologne 1968
  • Journal of the Identical Lunch . Nova Broadcast Press, San Francisco 1971
  • Sol LeWitt : Four Basic Colors: Yellow, Black, Red, Blue and Their Combinations . Lisson Gallery, London 1971
  • Brick Wall . Tanglewood Press, 1977
  • Maurizio Nannucci, Nine Colors, Centro Di, Florence 1970
  • Sixty Natural Greens, 1977
  • Tom Phillips : A Humument (from 1971)
  • Bern Porter : Found Poems . Something Else Press, Millerton, NY, 1972.
  • The Wastemaker, 1926-1961 . Abyss Publications, Somerville, Mass., 1972
  • The Manhattan Telephone Book 1972 . Abyss Publications, Bern Porter International, Somerville, Mass., 1975
  • FROM: Bern Porter TO: The World! Roger Jackson Publishers, Ann Arbor, MI, 1999
  • Dieter Roth : 2 picture books Forlag Ed., Reykjavík 1957
  • Ed Ruscha : Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963)
  • Various Small Fires (1964)
  • Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965)
  • Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)
  • Thirtyfour Parking Lots (1967)
  • Royal Road Test (1967)
  • Records (1971)
  • Michael Snow : Cover to Cover . Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, 1975
  • Wolf Vostell : De-coll / age . Something Else Press, New York 1966
  • Andy Warhol : Andy Warhol's Index (Book) . Random House, New York 1967
  • Lawrence Weiner : Statements . Seth Siegelaub, New York 1968
  • Joyce Wieland : True Patriot Love . National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 1971


Artist book by Rosa Lachenmeier : Sunlight - Sunlight, BookART, Basel 1995.

Pop Art : Allen Jones , Eduardo Paolozzi , Tom Phillips. Jim Dine , Claes Oldenburg , Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol

Conceptual artists : Art & Language , John Baldessari , Marcel Broodthaers , Mel Bochner , Daniel Buren , Jochen Gerz , Gilbert & George , Joseph Kosuth , Sol LeWitt , Richard Long , Allen Ruppersberg , Edward Ruscha , Michael Snow, Timm Ulrichs , Lawrence Weiner , Joyce Wieland

Nouveau Réalisme : Christo , Niki de Saint-Phalle and Daniel Spoerri

Fluxus & Happening Artists : Joseph Beuys , George Brecht , Bazon Brock , Robert Filliou , Ken Friedman, Al Hansen , Dick Higgins , Allan Kaprow , Milan Knížák , Alison Knowles, George Maciunas , Charlotte Moorman , Nam June Paik , Ben Vautier , Wolf Vostell , Emmett Williams

Visual poetry or concrete poetry : Hartmut Andryczuk , Claus Bremer , Henri Chopin , Klaus Peter Dencker , Reinhard Döhl, Ian Hamilton Finlay , Pierre Garnier , Klaus Groh , Eugen Gomringer , Jiri Kolar , Richard Kostelanetz , Jackson MacLow , Karl Riha , Dieter Roth

Mail Art : Ulises Carrión, Kurt Corinth , Reinhard Döhl , Ray Johnson , Guy Bleus , Jürgen Partenheimer , Bern Porter

Book objects : Anselm Kiefer , László Lakner , Wolfgang Nieblich , Karl-Ludwig Sauer

Copy Book Art : Rosa Lachenmeier , Stiletto Studio, s

Differentiation from painting books and book objects

The field of artist books can roughly be divided into

  1. Book objects , that is, sculptural structures "that use the object character of the book or reproduce the book form in other materials";
  2. Painting books, with which artists combine a series of pictures between two book covers, or texts that have been provided with illustrations by artists in free association, with the result that a new work of art results from the connection of text and picture;
  3. Illustrated or so-called "beautiful" books, "through which, in conjunction with a text, graphic cycles are published in an often complex and idiosyncratic bookbinding process."
  4. Books published by publishers, galleries or institutions and produced in book printing companies that do not differ significantly from normal books as a result.
  5. Copy Book Art, with the widespread appearance of the photocopier since the 1970s, its specific possibilities are used in a targeted manner. Concept and visual design are given a new aesthetic. Usually produced in small editions by the artists directly on the copier.


Art book collection in the CBK Gelderland, Arnhem (NL)

Since artists' books often do not fit into the normal schema of academic libraries, i.e. they usually do not allow proper registration, some museums and libraries have specialized in collecting artistic books.

The best-known in Europe are the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz and the Archive for Small Press & Communication , which became the property of the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen in 1999 . There are also collections of artists' books in the library of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg , in the university library of the University of Applied Arts Vienna , in the State Gallery of Stuttgart , here in particular the Sohm archive, in the Brandenburg Art Collections in Cottbus in the Cottbus Art Museum, in the Bavarian State Library in Munich , in the Dresden State and University Library , in the University Library of the Bauhaus University Weimar and in the Museum for Art and Industry Hamburg . The Lyrik Kabinett Munich with the most extensive collection of poetry in the German-speaking area, the Archive Artist Publications in Munich and the German Literature Archive Marbach also have extensive collections of artist books. The Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel and the Pablo Picasso Münster Art Museum , which specializes in French painter's books, have a larger collection of painter's books .

See also



  • Bettina Brach (Ed.): Collected Writings Guy Schraenen. Essays, Statements, Interviews 1974-2013 , with the collaboration of Maike Aden, print version and digital edition (DVD), Bremen: Center for Artist Publications 2013
  • Mirabiblia. Research contributions to the artist book. Concepts - Discourses - Contexts , Essen: Bachmann, 2013ff., ZDB 27424108.
    • Books as works of art. From literature to artist books, ed. by Monika Schmitz-Emans and Christian A. Bachmann, Congress: Colloquium on literature and artist books, Essen: Bachmann, 2013, Mirabiblia vol. 1, ISBN 978-3-941030-22-0 .
    • Paradigmata for the artist book. Genres and works from Classical Modernism to the present , ed. by Ulrich Ernst and Susanne Gramatzki, Congress: Tagung Paradigmata zum Künstlerbuch , Wuppertal 2013, Berlin: Bachmann, 2015, Mirabiblia Vol. 2, ISBN 978-3-941030-34-3 .
    • Viola Hildebrand-Schat: Art booked. Manuscripts and early prints as sources of inspiration for the artist's book , with an afterword by Stefan Soltek , Berlin: Bachmann, 2015, Mirabiblia vol. 3, ISBN 978-3-941030-49-7 .
    • Movement books. Game forms, poetics, constellations , ed. by Christian A. Bachmann, Laura Emans and Monika Schmitz-Emans, Berlin: Bachmann, Mirabiblia Vol. 4, ISBN 978-3-941030-53-4 .
  • Klaus Groh , Hermann Havekost : Artists' Books. Artist books, book objects . 1406 S. University of Oldenburg 1986, ISBN 3-8142-0152-3 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, February 1986).
  • Ulises Carrión: From Bookworks to Mailworks . Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar 1978.
  • Ulises Carriòn: Second Thoughts , Amsterdam 1980.
  • Germano Celant: Book as Artwork 1960/1972 , London 1972 (orig. Ital. In: Data , No. 1, Sept. 1971; French. "Le livre comme travail artistique 1960-1970", in: VH 101 , No. 9 , Fall 1972; German "The book as an art form, 1960-1970", in: Inter functions , No. 11, July – September 1974).
  • Katja Deinert: artist books . Historical, systematic and didactic aspects . Verlag Kovač, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-86064-333-9 (also dissertation, University of Munich 1995).
  • Johanna Drucker: The Century of Artists' Books . Granary Books, New York 1995, ISBN 1-887123-01-6 .
  • John Goodwin (Ed.): Books by Artists, Printed Matter bookstore at Dia . New York 1992.
  • Tim Guest (Ed.), Books by Artists , Toronto 1981.
  • Gerhard Haass, Hubert Kretschmer: book objects. Artist books object books . Verlag Kretschmer & Großmann, Darmstadt 1982 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt , June 4 to July 4, 1982).
  • Béatrice Hernad, Karin von Maur : paper songs. Book Art in the Twentieth Century. Artist books, painter's books and press prints from the collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich . Prestel, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-7913-1218-9 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, BSB, September 24 to December 19, 1992).
  • Viola Hildebrand-Schat: Art has an impact. The artist's book as a borderline phenomenon. , with a foreword by Stefan Soltek, ed. v. Klingspor-Museum Offenbach, Lindlar 2013. The New Objectivity, ISBN 978-3-942139-32-8 .
  • Stephen Klima: Artists' Books. A Critical Study of the Literature . Granary Books, New York 1998, ISBN 1-887123-18-0 .
  • Gabriele Koller, Martin Zeiller: artist books . Artist's Books, between work and statement . University of Applied Arts, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-85211-094-7 .
  • Hubert Kretschmer: artist books, object books . In: Frankfurt Idea. The magazine of creative communication , Vol. 1 (1981), No. 3, ISSN  0721-7951 .
  • Hubert Kretschmer: artist books . In: Frankfurt Idea. The magazine of creative communication . Vol. 1 (1981), No. 2, ISSN  0721-7951 .
  • Nancy Linn (Ed.): Books by Artists . Printed Matter Inc., New York 1981.
  • Joan Lyons (Ed.): Artists Books. A Critical Antholgy and Sourcebook , New York 1985.
  • Eva Meyer-Hermann (ed.): Artists' books I . Kunstmuseum, Krefeld 1993, ISBN 3-926530-61-8 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, Krefeld Art Museums, February 28 to April 12, 1993).
  • Rafael Tous i Giner (Ed.): Llibres d'Artista, Artist's Books . Editorial Metrònom, Barcelona 1981.
  • Jürg Meyer zur Capellen (Ed.): Book objects . University, Freiburg im Breisgau 1980 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, June 13 to July 10, 1980).
  • Dominique Moldehn: Books. Artists' works and book objects 1960–1994 . Verlag für modern art, Nuremberg 1996, ISBN 3-928342-62-2 (plus dissertation, University of Marburg 1993).
  • Artur Brall: Artists' Books, Book as Art. Exhibitions Documentations Catalogs Reviews. An analysis . Verlag, Kretschmer & Großmann, Darmstadt 1986, ISBN 3-923205-65-1 .
  • Gabriele Grünebaum: Books that aren't. Art and kitsch in book form . Verlag Wegener, Dormagen 1988 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, Museum Zons, March 4 to May 1, 1988).
  • Peter Weiermair (Ed.): Artists' books . Art Association, Frankfurt / M. 1981 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, October 16-23, 1981).


  • Peter Frank, Judith Hoffberg: Multiple World: An International Survey of Artists' Books , The Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Atlanta 1994.
  • Martin Hellmold, Anne Thurmann-Jajes (Hrsg.): Malerbücher - artist books. The versatility of a medium in 20th century art . New Museum Weserburg Bremen . Salon-Verlag, Cologne 2002. ISBN 3-928761-54-4
  • Peter Huemer: Copy Book Art international . Maerz Gallery, Linz 1996.
  • Hubert Kretschmer (Ed.): Artist books . Producer gallery Adelgundenstrasse, Munich 1979/80, ISBN 3-923205-00-7 (3 volumes; catalog of the exhibition of the same name).
  • Hubert Kretschmer, Marie-Louise Schaller (ed.): The book as an art object . Edition Kretschmer, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-923205-04-X (catalog of the exhibition of the same name in the Swiss National Library in Bern ).
  • Hubert Kretschmer (Ed.): Instant Media . In: Instant No. 16 . Frankfurt am Main 1986 (special edition for an exhibition of artist magazines, audio cassettes and records at the Goethe-Institut Paris).
  • Kretschmer Hubert (Ed.): Issue 36 2015 - KUNST BUCH WERKE - artist books from the 70s and 80s from the Archive Artist Publications, Munich . icon Verlag Hubert Kretschmer, 2015, ISBN 978-3-923205-89-9 .
  • Anne Moeglin-Delcroix (Ed.): Livres d'Artistes (Collection Semaphore). Center Georges Pompidou , Paris 1985, ISBN 2-7335-0085-6 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, June 12 to October 7, 1985)
  • Maurizio Nannucci, Gabriele Detterer, Bookmakers, Pays-Paysage, Limoges, 1995
  • Sabine Röder (Ed.): Sand in the Vaseline. Artists' Books II, 1980–2002 . Verlag König, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-88375-641-5 .
  • Guy Schraenen (Ed.): A Museum in a Museum. Collection of all 24 catalogs from Guy Schraenens 'exhibitions in the Center for Artists' Publications Bremen (1992–2000) + Vol. 1 with an illustrated text about the collection of artists 'books in the Center for Artists' Publications, Museum Weserburg Bremen. Bremen: Center for Artist Publications 2011
  • Guy Schraenen (Ed.): Out of Print. An Archive as Artistic Concept . Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen 2001, ISBN 3-928761-51-X (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, shown in Bremen, Barcelona, ​​Zurich, Porto, Erlangen).
  • Guy Schraenen: Kunstenaarsboeken uit de verzameling Archive for Small Press & Communication, Antwerp , Provinciaal Museum, Hasselt (February 26 - March 28, 1990).
  • Anja Harms, Ines von Ketelhodt , Doris Preußner, Uta Schneider, Ulrike Stoltz (eds.): Unica T - Ten Years of Artists' Books . Edition UNICA T, Offenbach 1996, ISBN 3-00-000854-3 (exhibition catalog, group of female artists).
  • Orozco, Miguel , Picasso: 70 years of book illustration ., 2018
  • Book ٠ Art ٠ Balance. Henry Günther: Book designer, editor, bookbinder The artist books of Edition Balance 1990 to 2006. The German library. German Museum of Books and Writing at the Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig, June 21 to November 25, 2006


  • Theo Breuer : artist books in the lyrical series edition bauwagen . In: From the hinterland. Poetry after 2000 , Edition YE, Sistig / Eifel 2005, ISBN 3-87512-186-4 , pp. 202–222.
  • Bernhard Horwatitsch: Like caressing a body. Confessions of a Painter, Bernhard Horwatitsch in conversation with Sven Kalb , April 7, 2006. Tenea Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-86504-162-0 .
  • Hartmut Andryczuk : Artists magazines in Germany. In: forum book art , vol. 12 (1994). Bartkowiak, Hamburg 1994, ISSN  0935-7629 .
  • Heinz Stefan Bartkowiak (Ed.): Compendium of contemporary hand press prints, painter's books, artist's books, single-sheet prints, portfolios and book objects . In: forum book art , (2006). Bartkowiak, Hamburg 2006, ISSN  0935-7629 .
  • Michael Glasmeier: The Artists' Books. Publications and editions in Germany since the 1960s . Edition Hansjörg Mayer, Institute for Foreign Relations, Frankfurt / M. 1994.
  • Renée Riese Hubert (Ed.): The Artist's Book. The Text and its Rivals, Volume 2/3 (Visible Language, Vol. 25). Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI 1991, ISSN  0022-2224 .

Web links

Commons : Artist Books  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Theory essay by Ulises Carrión:

Essay by Guy Bleus

Extensive link collections on the subject of artist books


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Michael Glasmeier: The books of artists. Publications and editions in Germany since the 1960s , Institute for Foreign Relations, Edition Hansjörg Mayer, 1994, p. 11 f.
  2. ^ Michael Glasmeier: The books of the artist. Publications and editions in Germany since the 1960s , Edition Hansjörg Mayer, 1994, p. 21
  3. ^ Ars librorum and Malerbücher HAB Wolfenbüttel , accessed on December 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Peter Huemer: Copy Book Art international. Maerz Gallery, Linz 1996.