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Text as Inspiration: Artists' Books and Literature
July 30, 2011 – January 29, 2012
West Building Ground Floor

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: Artists' books exemplify the creative and inventive abilities of their makers. Working in a visual and tactile format, they transform the book into a total art concept, with poignant, humorous, and clever results. Poetry and prose inspired the 14 artists' books exhibited. Some are written by the artist-bookmaker, but most are by a familiar or favorite author who motivated the artist to explore the subject of the text and express it as a creative artwork. Made in small or limited editions, artists' books go beyond merely illustrating a story. Molding and manipulating the text, the book artist makes it part of a unique imagery through the use of disparate elements. Carefully choosing varied types of paper (usually handmade), printing, and binding, the artist combines them with drawings, prints, paper sculpture, fabric, and other materials to construct a thematic whole. Some artists retain the characteristics of a book while others recreate the individual elements and transform them into a synthesis of text and image.

The National Gallery of Art Library is fortunate to have an exceptionally generous and knowledgeable benefactor in Patricia G. England, who has donated several hundred books that now form the basis of the library's splendid artist book collection.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Image: John Regis Tuska, b. 1931, On the Cliffs by Algernon Charles Swinburne, Lexington, KY: King Library Press, 1980, National Gallery of Art Library, Gift of Patricia G. England

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