Artist’s Books: Chapter 7 - Form and content

Curated by and from the collection of BIMA Founder Cynthia Sears.

In art in general, form and content are considered distinctly different aspects of a work: form refers to the work's style, the techniques and media used, and the way the elements of design are implemented; content, on the other hand, refers to a work's essence, or what is being communicated.  

In Artist's Books, however, form and content are closely- often inextricably- bound.  It is not just the content that provides the meaning of the piece, it is everything else as well!  The structure may be as much a part of the story as whatever text or image is used. Another way of thinking about this is " What you say and how you say it are the same thing."

Cases are often an integral part of the book, the first step in the viewing process.  The books are frequently mixed-media, composed of many steps and processes.  They are meant to be experienced- touched and interacted with- to get the entire "story".

More than any other form of contemporary art, artist's books are valued purely on the strength of the content, structure and message- not on the name or fame of an artist.  They are therefore considered by many to be the friendliest and most democratic  subset of contemporary art.


Check out our exciting Book Arts programs HERE.

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