Review: Artists Making Books by Venetia Porter

Sophie Kazan / Featured Insights

In the Beginning and the End is the Book


Artist books or artists’ books are used by artists to broach personal topics or stories, which include collages, photographs and illustrations. These books can be handcrafted collections of paper, sometimes sewn or gathered together in a sleeve or box, often made by the artist and this can add symbolism to the work. The term “artist book” can also loosely be given to ceramic or mixed media “pages” or collections, bound together or drawn together by lines, words or by other means. Not to be confused with the more haphazard sketchbook, artists’ books are gaining increasing interest on the global art market, both for their conceptual value, as well as for their significance as artistic expressions.

Artists’ books have been Venetia Porter’s passion for a number of years. The former Senior Curator for Islamic and Contemporary Middle East Art at the British Museum knows the department’s collection of books very well. She has also been responsible for the acquisition of many of the contemporary books in the collection. Her latest publication, Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics is a rare treat because it offers a passionate and extremely well organized analysis of over 60 artists’ books from the museum’s collection. more