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Artists’ Books in the Crystal Bridges Library

Aunt Sallie's Lament

Crystal Bridges’ Library is a true treasure, featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference books, historic books, and artists’ books.  It is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in delving into American art history.  There’s even a section of children’s books. But libraries are a little bit like treasure caves:  there is so much to see, sometimes you need a guide.  Here, Crystal Bridges Librarian Catherine Petersen offers us a glimpse at one of the hidden jewels of the Library:  artists’ books. –LD

Believe it or not, librarians “Google” quite often! For example, I was thinking about how to introduce the subject of artists’ books in under 250 words for the Museum Library’s first blog, and I must admit my first intuition was to Google “artists’ books.” I wasn’t surprised to retrieve some 151,000,000 results (which is why librarians recommended Not Googling—a subject I may address at a later date). Also expected, the first return was from Wikipedia. In this case, the popular collaborative online encyclopedia does a fairly good job of explaining artists’ books and makes a solid attempt at offering further reading options. So, I will leave an explanation of artists’ books at that (although you should know there is great debate over exactly where the apostrophe should be). With one click on the link above you can learn about as much as you desire about artists’ books, and I will not attempt to explain this unique but complex genre.

What I really want you to know is that the Crystal Bridges Library has wonderful artists’ books and you are welcome to visit the library and explore them—to unfold, pop-up, scroll, or otherwise manipulate their various aesthetic and thematic aspects. Because they are fragile, many of these books are kept in the Library’s restricted access area, but our Library staff are happy to assist you in viewing these wonderful, fascinating works of art.  Just ask! So with fifty words left (not counting bibliographic information) below is a small sampling:

A pop-up spread from "Andy Warhol's Index (Book)."

A pop-up spread from
“Andy Warhol’s Index (Book).”

Andy Warhol’s Index (Book)

Andy Warhol

New York : Random House, 1967

N6537.W28 A539 1967

A fairly early artist book containing 8 pop-up images: According to Princeton University’s blog, Andy Warhol’s Index (Book) is “a children’s book for hipsters.” Want to see more? Abebooks uploaded a cool YouTube video of Index (book).

Pop artist fans will be happy to know we have the majority of Ed Ruscha’s artist books:

A selection of artist's books by Ed Ruscha.

A selection of artist’s books by Ed Ruscha.

Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Various Small Fires and Milk, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles, Royal Road Test, Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, Business Cards, Crackers, Babycakes with Weights, Records, Colored People, and Hard Light.

For a glimpse of these titles see the Gagosian Gallery’s 2013 exhibition, Ed Ruscha, Books & Co. this past year.

Aunt Sallie's Lament, an artist's book by

Aunt Sallie’s Lament, an artist’s book
by Clare Van Vliet.


Aunt Sallie’s Lament

Claire Van Vliet, 2004

Newark, Vt: Janus Press

N7433.4.V37 A8 2004






Hécatombe 9-11

Maria G. Pisano

Plainsboro, N.J.: Memory Press, 2007

HV6432.7 .P57 2007

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