Ida Applebroog’s artists’ books have a way of making you feel slightly uncomfortable without really knowing why. At least that is the effect her small books have on me. My first encounter with them had me feeling generally uncertain, thinking not only “What are these things?” but also “Why are these things?” Even after reading several of her books, I still did not understand exactly what her images represented. I had to read about Applebroog’s books to better understand.
Anything that comes into being by way of human creativity and artistic expression often includes imperfections. Sometimes the flaws are so subtle that they go unnoticed by everyone but the perfectionistic artist laboring over their creation. The process of making art, especially artists’ books, requires a great deal of emphasis on attention to detail (if you ask almost any book artist); there are many opportunities for mistakes along the way. Slurring at Bottom: A Printer’s Book of Errors (2001), was conceived by book artist and publisher Robin Price. Continue reading
Many of the artists’ books in the Smithsonian American Art & Portrait Gallery Library’s collection tell stories—from personal struggles with addiction, to pictorial descriptions of how to create a human salad, to universal stories of historical conflicts, such as Kara Walker’s book “Freedom: A Fable.”
“Where the fold should be / There is no fold” reads the entire tenth poem of Reading Red. Reading this poem is a jarring experience: the book has many folds, extra folds. Is the “fold” of the poem related to the physical construction of the book in which it is printed, or is it a statement about something outside the book? As this poem makes clear, the work is concerned with the physical form of its presentation.
For the past two summers, three art libraries, the Hirshhorn Library (HMSG), the African Art Library (NMAA), and the American Art Library/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) have hosted graduate library student interns through the Smithsonian Libraries Professional Development Internship to work on the three libraries’ artists’ book collections. Continue reading