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  • Writer's pictureJay Abel

ART BOOKS and THE BOOK AS ART

Updated: Jan 5, 2023


THE ART BOOK and THE BOOK AS ART



Goya - Dark Visions of Things to Come, 1806


Traditionally Art books have been some kind of catalog for some kind of show, or illustrations for a critical monograph. Both of those things are well and good, but I advocate another sort of book.


Graphic artists have been doing this sort of book for 100 years. It stared out as comic books and later evolved into the graphic novel, however the art still needed to excuse itself by telling a story. I like that too, I've even done something like it a few times, but a sequential story need not be required.


The pioneer of the book as art (or in his case the graphic folio as art), was Goya. His dedicated print cycles, “the Caprichos”, “The Disasters of War” , or the “Despartes ” are collections of images loosely themed around a general idea. This makes the book into a kind of pocket art gallery. Goya didn’t have a digital press or world wide distribution to circulate his prints, all of that came much later, but Goya’s idea, the book as a collection of only more or less related images, is a good one, and rather seldom exploited these days.

A lot of the reason was the expense involved in printing a book. Only an artist of wealth and fame, or a museum / university establishment, with many fat donors, could afford the overhead of getting even a modest book out the door.


That is no longer the case. Now any artist may have his or her book at little expense.

The only question is, what’s your book going to look like? JDA




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