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.
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.
This installation is part of a larger project to discover and highlight the artists’ books in the Smithsonian Institution’s art libraries. A team of Smithsonian Institution librarians and interns is analyzing the accessibility of the collection through the library catalog; investigating new ways to explore the collection through digitization and social media.