book art

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A term applied to books produced as a kind of Conceptual art, valued for the ideas they embody rather than for their appearance or literary content. This type of work originated in the 1950s (Dieter Roth began issuing such books in 1954), although there are precedents for the making of one-off ‘book-objects’ or ‘object-books’ (see object) in the work of the Surrealists, and in 1920 Suzanne Duchamp received—as a wedding present from her brother Marcel—instructions for a proto-Conceptual work involving a book. The first exhibition devoted to books of the type defined above was probably ‘Book as Art-work’ at the Nigel Greenwood Gallery, London, in 1972, and the term ‘book art’ began to be used soon afterwards. Among the artists who have made something of a speciality of book art is Ed Ruscha. Hamish Fulton and Richard Long have both used the book as one means of documenting their walks. The type is very different from the livre d'artiste, a very luxurious kind of illustrated book.

Subjects: Bibliography — Art.

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