What is an artist’s book? Most simply put, it is a work of art that utilizes the form of the book. However, artists’ books are not simple objects nor are they simple to explain. They can be mass produced on a photocopier, hand-bound limited editions, or one-of-a-kind objects. Artists’ books exist at the intersections of publishing and contemporary art, of self-expression and commercial markets, of printmaking, photography, poetry, and design.
Conceptual artists like Ed Ruscha began publishing small books in the 1960s as a way to reach wider audiences and to broaden the scope of their ideas. Artists’ books have often been considered a subversive art form, seen as a way for artists to critique the existing structure of the art world, its markets, and institutions. Many of these pioneer artists’ books, originally sold for as little as $3.50, are now considered rare collector’s items of extreme value.
Last year the library began actively collecting artist’s books for the museum. Some will be exhibited as part of our upcoming contemporary exhibition ‘Third Space /Shifting Conversations About Contemporary Art.’ One of the most exciting pieces in our collection is a one-of-a-kind book by artist William Downs, a professor of drawing at Georgia State University whose work focuses on the human body. He often uses ephemeral materials such as recycled file folders and found paper. Downs incorporates lived and dreamed experiences into his work, often evoking a psychoanalytic feel, an attempt to define the meaning behind the subconscious images. I will wait another day was created as part of Downs’ participation in a show at Tempus Projects in Tampa, Florida. Downs used a commercially available Moleskine notebook and filled it with original drawings. I will wait another day reads like a sketchbook, with dates and times carefully recorded. The small size of the notebook invites an intimate reading, and the detail in his drawing invites close looking. The act of reading a book, of holding it and turning the pages, offers viewers a chance to physically interact with a work of art.
Visitors are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the library to read I will wait another day for themselves by emailing [email protected].