Artists and the Book

What happens when an artist approaches the format or concept of the book, not simply to document or illustrate their work but as an art practice in its own right? Artists' books, in this sense, take many forms, from luxury letterpress volumes with original prints to duplicated pamphlets, 3D constructions and 'altered' existing books. The V&A holds a very large and varied collection of artists' books, all of which can be accessed in the National Art Library, here at the V&A South Kensington.

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The 20th century has been dubbed 'the century of artists' books', although their history starts earlier and takes new turns in the digital age. Aspects of this history include the employment of major artists as illustrators by art-world publishers, William Morris's 1890s revival of traditional printing, and the revolutions of conceptual art from around 1960. Access to new technologies of multiplying images and texts, from photography to high street printing to computers, has been highly important to the development of artists' books.

Collection highlights


Header image:

(Detail) La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, by Sonia Delaunay & Blaise Cendrars, Paris: Editions des Hommes Nouveaux, 1913. Museum no. 38041993109149. © Pracusa 2013057