An artists book is a limited
edition book that is produced by an artist
or by a collective and that has aspects of handmade work in it. The
artists book has an edition number and is signed by the artist/s who
have worked on the book as well as by the writer of the text if this is
The artists book may be in the form of hand printed
lithographs, lino cuts, letterpress or even hand written. They are
often made using an unconventional format and unusual binding. There
are not that many artists in South Africa who make artists books (it is
a time consuming process and is something that the general public are
not really aware of).
books allow artists to combine aspects of their artmaking with text in
novel and exciting ways. The edition number for artists books produced
in South Africa is usually fairly small (100 copies or less). This
makes artists books relatively rare and collectable.
The "can do"
approach of South Africans has extended to the production of artists'
books and has resulted in some unconventional approaches to the
concept. Graduates from the Wits Technikon have done some very exciting
pieces, which have included handmade paper, sculptural elements,
plastic bags, fabric, embroidery and wire work.
books produced by The Artists' Press have received international
acclaim and can be found in some of the worlds leading libraries.
book produced in South Africa has to have a copy, or a number of copies
donated to the State Library Collection. This ensures that South Africa
as a country has an archive of artists books produced in the country.
It also acts as a resource for people who are interested in artists
books but who cannot afford them.
One of the
best and biggest international artists book collections that of a
Johannesburg Art patron, Jack Ginsburg, who is also the founder and
Director of the Ampersand Foundation. This is a collection of
contemporary Artists Books and includes all the ones that have been
produced at The Artist Press.
There are a
few specialised artists books dealers in South Africa who deal locally
and internationally. Clarkes Bookshop in Cape Town sells all kinds of
collectable books and can be relied on for artists books. Johannesburg
based Thoralds Books caters for the serious collector and have clients
across the globe. They focus on work with an Africana emphasis. The Art
on Paper Gallery also sells Artists Books and actively supports the
idea of "democratic multiples" which refers to artists books that are
produced in a format and at a price that is easily assessable to the
person in the street.
To look at
what artists books are available from the Artists' Press please go to www.artprintsa.com