August 15, 2011

Masters: Book Arts [book review]


Masters: Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists
Curated by Eileen Wallace

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Masters: Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists

I really wow'ed my way through this book. I flipped through it at the library (then borrowed it of course) when I happened to see it a few days after coming across a review by a blogger who found it too neat, straightforward and not messy enough for an art journaler. Heheh, it's not really messy but it's full of astounding works that make you wonder what can be considered a book, really. I thought immediately of 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form, which I had perused and enjoyed. Some of the books featured there also push the boundaries of what most would think constitutes a book, but 500 Handmade Books is more a crafty book - things amateurs like me could possibly make myself. The masterpieces in Masters: Book Arts are, unfortunately way way beyond my abilities. They are truly art.

This book is a great collection of works by 40 book artists, some of which are absolutely brilliant. It covers a wide variety of book forms, binding techniques, embellishment methods and materials used. Looks like anything can be art, and almost anything can be considered a book. I mean, look at Margaret Couch Cogswell's "crowning glories" -  that's my way of defining these art pieces ;) because they look like hats/headgear to me.

Simpleton by Margaret Couch Cogswell
in Masters: Book Arts
Birdbrain by Margaret Couch Cogswell
in Masters: Book Arts

I like the names of the works, the artist must have a sense of humor ;) But these are books? OK, there are words on those feather-looking panels on Simpleton. But I don't see any in Birdbrain on the right.
Maybe I just need a closer look... There are many other works featured that will make you go "huh?". Take a look at these by Daniel Essig.

N'Kisi Bricolage-Sturgeon (top)
(bottom from left) Chained Book; N'Kisi Bricolage; N'Kisi Bricolage-Trilobite
by Daniel Essig
in Masters: Book Arts

The N'Kisi book scultures are Essig's interpretations of the N'Kisi 
nkondi nail wooden sculptures made by the Kongo peoples of
central Africa as a form of protection, health cure and dispute
settlement medium. Essig visualizes the nails as a form
of defense, protecting the tiny books in his sculptures.

They're beautiful. They're definitely art. But books? There is of course text on the fish's scales in N'Kisi Bricolage-Sturgeon, did you miss that?

Alright, so many of the works in Masters: Book Arts are more sculpture and art installation piece and this book does challenge the conventional idea of what makes a book and how a message can be conveyed - visually more than through words. If you can get past that, there's plenty to catch your eyes here. I am not enamored of all the works presented but I admire the creativity and inventiveness of the artists. Take Adele Outteridge's transparent book structures made of acrylic and other materials.

Vessels by Adele Outteridge
in  Masters: Book Arts

Awakening; Between the Lines (White); Small Sound Book
by Adele Outteridge
in  Masters: Book Arts

Very unusual, strange and unique. Here are some of the other works I like best in  Masters: Book Arts.

Little Blue Italy Book; Oh Come Let Us Adore Him; Misguided Angels
by Peter Madden
in  Masters: Book Arts

Scrap Book #1; Scrap Book II; Various Bindings
works by Peter Madden
in  Masters: Book Arts

Peter Madden. I love his use of unusual materials. For Misguided Angels, he uses slate roof tiles, cooper, wood, apart from cotton and paper. Scrap Book II is made of wood, copper, brass nails, and brown paper bag. I also like the way he stitches up the edges of his books and the great bindings he makes. I could definitely see some of these works sitting pretty in my library.

Dreams 2009; Dreams 2007;
Enemy; Dreams 2004; Dreamlog 1998; Dreamlog 2002;
Bias; Ring;
by Genie Shenk
in  Masters: Book Arts

Genie Shenk's books are meant to be visual representations of emotions and themes. Her inspiration are her dreams. Dreams 2004 (in the photo in the middle)does make me think of dreams, the subjects depicted on the book are so eclectic and varied, just like how the subjects of dreams can bounce from one to another, seemingly with little relevance.

Journal (Dos-a-Dos); Mapping Symbols;
Fragments; Elements of Botany;
In Full Bloom; Palimpsest
by Julie Leonard
in  Masters: Book Arts

I love some of the materials Julie Leonard uses. Palimpsest and Elements of Botany remind me of the books of long ago, the delicacy of old pages. Her traditional sewn bindings are based on historic book structures.

Avenir by Charles Cros; Evening Song by Joy Harjo; Les Voiles by Alphonse de Lamartine;
Identities; All Walks of Life; Une Femme a sa Lenetre by Charles Baudelaire;
The Whole Nine Yards Series: Habitats and Vagabonds; Auda City
by Béatrice Coron
in  Masters: Book Arts

I adore Béatrice Coron's paper cut books filled with what she refers to as "cut stories". They do look like children's story books. Gorgeous.

Masters: Book Arts showcases the works of 40 artists. I like the introductions to the artists explaining their process and intent; I wish they were more detailed, dtto for the number for works and the content of the books featured, but that's probably asking for too much. Thank goodness for the Internet!

Rating: 5 stars

A little video of me flipping through the pages, so you can get a glimpse of the content. I hope the video works, I've never posted one before...

Masters: Book Arts by liberalsprinkles on YouTube

buy from Amazon
buy from The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Masters: Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists
Curator: Eileen Wallace
Publisher: Lark Crafts (April 5, 2011)
ISBN: 978-1600594977

Related posts
[ Paper Art: Anastassia Elias, Issac Salazar ]
[ Paper Art: Ariana Boussard-Reifel, Ferry Staverman, Paper Donut ]
[ Paper Art: Jen Stark ]
[ Paper Cut Art: Joe Bagley ]
[ Paper cut animation videos ]

Related links
Margaret Couch Cogswell's website
Margaret Couch Cogswell's blog
Daniel Essig's website
photos of Daniel Essig's works at Google Images
link to some Genie Shenk works and photos of Genie Shenk pieces at Google Images
Béatrice Coron's website
Béatrice Coron works via Google Images

Adele Outteridge video

Adele Outteridge - artist book digital story by State Library of Queensland on YouTube

[ check out my posts on art ]
[ check out my book posts ]
[ check out my paper posts ]
[ check out my video posts ]

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