Century of Artists Books

Riva Castleman, Author
Riva Castleman, Author ABRAMS $55 (264p) ISBN 978-0-8109-6124-1
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Hardcover - 164 pages - 978-0-8109-6181-4
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-0-87070-152-8
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In artists' books, according to Castleman, a curator at Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, art is not subsumed by text but ``translates it into an a language that has more meanings than words can convey.'' In this handsome companion to a MoMA exhibition, Castleman showcases a wide selection of books by fine artists. She explains that the advent of photography and chromolithography in the mid-19th century allowed mass-produced prints to convey the colorful aspects of painting, leading major artists, such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Gaugin, to produce books in editions of more than 100 copies. Profiling enterprising early publishers--like art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who in 1900, commissioned Pierre Bonnard to illustrate a volume of Paul Verlaine's poetry--Castleman throws light on the collaborative work that characterized such books. Also examined are artists' typical subject matter (moral fables, literary classics and political allegories); early prototypes, such as 16th-century illustrated codexes by Durer; and the fate of artists' books in the electronic age. (Feb.)
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