Library Exhibit Features the Book As Art

Posted: May 19, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: May 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

This information was provided by University Libraries

A student examines part of the artist's book display at Fenwick Library. Photo by Leah Donnelly

“The Book As Art: The Artist’s Book Collection of George Mason University Libraries” is the title of a new exhibit on display at Fenwick Library now through July 2.

The exhibit may be seen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 204C of Special Collections and Archives exhibit space.

University Libraries has been building a collection of artists’ books over the last few years.

An artist’s book is a work of art in book form. It is usually handmade and published in a limited edition or as a single work called a “unique.”

In an artist’s book, content and form are inextricably linked and are thus able to convey ideas through the creative integration of image, text, color, texture and typography.

While book design dates back as far as books themselves, artists’ books comprise a new field. The term “artist’s book” was originally used to describe books created in the conceptual art movement of the 1970s. Artist’s books today stand out from earlier creations because the books themselves are considered works of art and not just ways to display art.

The books displayed at Fenwick Library are works of art in themselves and defy the traditional book format by going beyond simple text with visual images.

They feature such unique design attributes as unusual bindings, molded cases, pictorial inserts and handmade paper. The books range in shape, size and material, and deal with a variety of subjects. One may be created out of paper, one out of metal, and another out of wood. Some artists’ books are miniature and others are gigantic.

A small sampling of books from the collection is currently on display, and some of them will be changed out over the course of the exhibit.

For more information, contact Leah Donnelly at 703-993-2058 or e-mail

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