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Artists Books in the Sciences Library

This guide provides a summary of various artists books that in some ways relate to the sciences.


What are Artist Books?

Artist books are a specific form of artistic expression with the book serving as the medium. All choices that go into each artist book is part of the art form. According to the Smithsonian, what truly defines an artist book is the intent of the creator. The possibilities are limitless, and each decision the artist makes is motivated by their intention in creating this project as inspired by the book. In the United States, Ed Ruscha created some of the first artist books that consisted of compilations of photographs, a front cover with a title, and no real narrative throughout. Future artists would then use this medium to tell stories that addressed issues, emotions, and events, and also to make art more accessible to individuals outside of traditional galleries. Today, artist books serve a similar purpose and artists are working with more experimental ideas and materials. The books have become more widely celebrated and studied, and new artists utilizing this medium are emerging all the time. Source: What is an artist’s book? (Smithsonian blog).

Please an exhibit created by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts called Science and the Artist’s Books. This exhibit features artist books that were created based on Bern Dibner’s Heralds of Science, a publication that listed 200 works that Dibner considered to be “pivotal in the history of science.” Each artist based their book on one of these “Heralds.” Art and science are very intertwined, and this project, in conjunction with the Smithsonian collection, will highlight examples of books as art objects themselves and the innovative ways topics in science can be captured and shared.

Please also explore this Digital Library project devoted to the Science Artist Books at IU's Sciences Library, with more interactive elements and additional information about each artist book.