For what seems like years, I have been on the lookout for a reasonably priced copy of The Book As Art by Krystyna Wasserman, the curator of book arts at the National Museum of Women in the Arts here in DC. Johanna Drucker, a book arts scholar from the University of Virginia, and Audrey Niffenegger, book artist and author of the best-selling novel The Time Traveller's Wife, both collaborated and are listed as co-authors. Tonight, I found one for next to nothing, and I am thrilled to be able to welcome this amazing work into the house. I am most fortunate to have access to the museum's large collection of book art right here in my backyard as well as now being able to pore through these gorgeous images whenever the want strikes, although it does seem a bit odd to view these three dimensional creations in a one dimensional presentation.
Book arts as presented here offers such an interesting set of questions or some would say challenges to the bibliophile. To what extent is a book simply the words it holds, the vessel somewhat irrelevant but necessary? Or, on the other hand, how does the physical form of the object contribute to its meaning? To those that believe that the codex form will never be replaced by some digital cousin, this art form honors the belief that the aesthetics of the publication yield greater insights into the meanings of the text, that word and image walk hand in hand to a higher artistic expression.
Now until November 30, you can catch a new exhibition at the museum called A Movable Feast: The Book As Art. Check out the website for more details. If you are able to attend, make sure you queue up at the computer kiosks that allow you to page through some of the exhibit pieces on the screen rather than being limited to the one page of the work featured in the stationary exhibit display.