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Donna Stein, FF Alumn, essay published in "Objects of Desire: Artists Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000"
Following is an
excerpt of a review written by Emma Hill in "ArtReview" March 2002.
Objects of Dsire
Artists' Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000
By Robert Flynn Johnson
Essay by Donna Stein
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by Emma Hill
"Donna Stein's cogent essay draws together the technological and historical changes which have influenced the development of the artist's book since the end of the 19th century -- from the flowering of the French livre d'artiste, encouraged by visionary publishers such as Ambroise Vollard and the German-born Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, to the more didactic use of the book form to convey the manifestos of Dada and the Russian avant-garde, through to artist-authored publications, such as Ruscha's Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, which circumvented the conventional gallery system and established the artist's book as a primary vehicle for art: a unified aesthetic of image, text and type, a portable exhibition space.
Stein's essay and
the informative footnotes accompanying each plate draw out a number of important
points in examining the relegated position of this art form in relation to painting,
sculpture and other forms of graphic art. Stein underlines how artists' books,
by nature an intimate, time-based art form, nevertheless reflect and distil
the different creative movements they come from; how they extend an individual
artist's graphic practice and provide a vehicle for the exchange of ideas. An
artist's book is not simply an illustrated text, but a book which becomes a
work of art through a time-consuming process of synthesizing various languages
into an integrated object."