The American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library has close to two hundred artists’ books in its collection, many of which have been featured here in past blog posts. However, this collection continues to grow and new books are selectively added. Many come through donations, but others are purchased to support the collection’s theme of “American Lives, American Stories.” Most of the works in the artists’ book collection feature American book artists and have biographical elements or touch upon the American experience.
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.
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some are to be chewed and digested.” ~Francis Bacon, Essays (1625) Bacon’s Essays By Francis Bacon, Richard Whately. We have talked about artists’ books on the Smithsonian Libraries blog before. And we’ll talk about them more, as a part of a short series to highlight interesting works of book art owned by the Smithsonian’s American Art & Portrait Gallery Library. But what, exactly, is an artist’s book? You may not be able to tell just from looking at the object itself!