Skip to Main Content

Artists' Books: Home

What is an "artists' book"?

Artists have long been associated with books, most often as illustrators, binders, printers, and papermakers. By the middle of the 20th century, artists began to have a more direct interest in books as works of visual art in book form, and the ARTISTS' BOOKS  movement started.

The term has been interpreted in different ways by a variety people at different times. Since the beginning of this movement, artists have turned to the book concept and form for artistic expression, exploration, and experimentation. The original meaning promoted a democratic vision of mass produced, low-cost books as art for anybody. The term is now more broadly applied to any book created by the artist as a work of art, or as Ed Ruscha said “art on the first order.” The Institute’s artists’ books collection reflects the history of this dynamic art form since the genre’s emergence.

Ruscha, Edward. Every Building on the Sunset Strip. 1966

Hom, Mei-ling. In the Morning. 1990

Lehrer, Warren. French Fries: a New Play. 1984

Silverberg, Robbin Ami. Spun Into Gold: First 100 words. 2002

Weston, Heather. Read (past, tense). 2000

Sligh, Clarrisa. What's Happening With Momma? 1988

Hanmer, Karen. Crystals. 2000

Higgins, Dick & Wolf Vostell. Fantastic Architecture. 1971

Slava, Paul. Tire Book: a Rubber Fetish. 1984

Harman, Barbara. Some Mountains. 1988

Osborn, Kevin. Vector Rev. 1984

Baldessari, John. Brutus Killed Caesar. 1976.

Smith, Keith A. Book 91. 1982

Neaderland, Lois. A Mideast Kaleidoscope. 1983

Drescher, Henrik. Comeundone. 1989

Ruscha, Edward. Twentysix Gasoline Stations. 1969

Laxson, Ruth. Measure, Cut, Stitch. 1987

Lara, Mario. In side Out. 1984

Snow, Michael. Cover to Cover. 1975

Hockensmith, Josh. Googled English Frontier Star. 2008

Ruscha, Edward. Various Small Fires and Milk. 1970.

Pohl, David. They Thought of Money. 1986.

These images are of books in the CIA Library's artists' books collection.

Library Hours