June 10, 2016
New exhibition displays art made by the book
by Kait Howard
The link between bookmaking and visual art is ages old, but, at least as far as I can tell, the practice of making art out of found books may be more specific to our times. (As we’ve recently reported, the art of making new books from old ones may be considerably older.) It seems like every few months another website runs a feature on artists who use old books as their medium. Venerable practitioners who have manipulated book pages for their own ends include William Kentridge, Joseph Cornell, Tom Phillips, and many others.
Now, as Nathaniel Ainley at The Creators Project reports, White Noise Gallery in Rome is putting on an exhibition featuring the work of contemporary artists who make drawings, sculptures, installations, and other works from materials not originally intended to be visual art—specifically, from old books. Called Any Given Book, the exhibit presents work by fifty artists from ten different countries, from Beniamino Leone, who defaced an encyclopedia with cuts and illustrations, to Jennifer Collier, creator of a microscope fashioned from book pages, to Matthew Cusick, whose Hyboria is made of found comic paper inlaid on a birch panel.
According to Ainley, White Noise describes the featured artists as inspired by the “most executive and symbolic objects from everyday life.” The impulse makes sense. Artists may find that starting with a book—already a container of ideas—automatically adds a layer of depth to their work. Plus, if the slew of online slideshows are any indication, audiences seem to find the conceit endlessly cool.
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.