Art Books, Artist Books, and the Exhibition Catalogue as a Space for Intervention

Event Info

The simplest definition of an artist book is an artwork in book form, designed and conceived as such. But in practicality, the lines around this art object are blurry, encompassing and excluding other terms and types such as art book and exhibition catalogue. Rather than draw a clear line around the term, this Book Talk will consider the ways artists use the exhibition catalogue to productively complicate notions of both the book as artwork and the catalogue as documentary object. We will look at examples of exhibition catalogues which were created as a collaboration between artist, designer, and institution that use the space of the catalogue as a site for artist publishing innovation. It will include books by Tauba Auerbach, Christopher Williams, and Thomas Demand.

Questions for consideration include: What are the requirements for a book to be considered an exhibition catalogue and how can those be pushed towards the characteristics of an artist book? What are the ways artists can exercise authorship in the exhibition catalogue? How does the artist as a designer change the catalogue? Does shared authorship between artist, institution, and book designer change whether the book is considered an artist book? Is the book still an exhibition catalogue if it does not document an exhibition? What resources and opportunities does intervention into an exhibition catalogue provide for artists?

This Book Talk will be structured as a group discussion. After an introduction with illustrated examples, participants will break into small discussion groups for intimate conversation before returning to the larger group to share ideas.

Participants are encouraged to read these two short articles in advance:

Megan N. Liberty, “Tauba Auerbach’s Sculptural Art Books,” Hyperallergic

Megan N. Liberty, “Christopher Williams Shakes Up the Exhibition Catalogue,” Hyperallergic

The Book Talk series organized by Roni Gross, features a series of artists, academics, and  people developing critical dialogue around books.

Image: Tauba Auerbach, S v Z, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2020) (all images courtesy Artbook D.A.P.)

Megan N. Liberty is an arts writer, editor, and archivist based in Brooklyn. She writes about artists’ books, ephemera, archives, and other multidisciplinary meetings of text and image. She is the Art Books section editor at the Brooklyn Rail and co-founder of the Book Art Review. Her writing appears regularly on Hyperallergic and in ArtReview, and has also been published in, Art in America, Frieze, NY Review of Books Daily, LA Review of Books, White Review, Art in Print, and elsewhere. She has led and participated in public conversations on artists’ books and publishing with the Brooklyn Rail, Contemporary Artist Book Conference, Hill Art Foundation, and Miriam Gallery, and teaches workshops for early career artists on the practical and conceptual importance of self-archiving. She was a 2019-20 AICA/USA and Creative Capital/The Andy Warhol Foundation’s Arts Writing Workshop participant, and has an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and a BA in English from Dickinson College, PA.

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