Artists’ books always contain art, and the art often serves as the primary reason for the book’s existence. And the history of bookmaking, since the Gutenberg Bible, contains examples of books whose typographic and design excellence is immediately apparent and beyond dispute, but which contain no art. Occasionally, the two worlds intersect and overlap, resulting in books as noteworthy for their artwork as their printing, as praiseworthy for their artistic content as their design and manufacturing. In this full color selection of 77 books from Europe and the Americas, the authors select, and comment upon, the “best of both worlds”: books whose pages reveal the best graphic work of the past century; artwork from the hands of masters as diverse as Braque, Calder, Dine, Hockney, Mapplethorpe, Matisse, Maillol, Picasso, Oldenburg and Rivers—coupled with memorable texts orchestrated by the best designers, printers, and binders.
At once a visual feast and a provocative tour through well- and lesser-known titles, the primary thesis this book suggests is that one world does not have to be sacrificed at the expense of the other. In the hands of expert collaborators, a book can incorporate the best of both worlds—the artistic and the bibliophilic—to provide a vehicle that both exalts the contents and celebrates the messages.
All four authors have been professionally involved with the history, design, and production of books for decades—Jerry Kelly as a prominent book designer, Riva Castleman and Anne Hoy as authors, editors, and curators, and Peter Strauss as a printer and collector.