Book this Art: The Getty Research Institute’s Exhibition of Artists’ Books

In “Artists and their Books / Books and their Artists” The Getty Research Institute (“GRI”) has assembled a thought-provoking exhibition of the ways in which artists have explored the boundaries of what it means to be a book, and the artistic inventions that have found fruition in book form.

Although books have been sources of art and a vehicle for artistic expression — from the earliest Egyptian papyri to illuminated manuscripts to Surrealists presses – more recently contemporary artists have found innovative ways to explore artists’ books.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña (Mexican, b. 1955) and Felicia Rice (American, b. 1954). DOC/UNDOC: Documentado/Undocumented: Ars Shamánica Performática. Santa Cruz, CA: Moving Parts Press, 2014. Video by Gustavo Vazquez (Mexican, b. 1954), text by Jennifer A. González (American, b. 1965), and sound by Zachary James Watkins (American, b. 1980). Relief print, letterpress, DVD, compact disc, clamshell box, aluminum case, mirror, electric lights, wrestling mask, headphones, various objects. Edition of 15. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, 2015-B6. © 2018 by Felicia Rice and Moving Parts Press© 2018 by Felicia Rice and Moving Parts Press

“These striking works often made their way into the GRI’s collections through our relationships with contemporary artists,” Andrew Perchuk, acting director of the GRI, said, ”Or they come to us as part of artists’ archives which we collect in depth.”

There are 42 books in the exhibit by a wide variety of artists whose names you may know, such as Anselm Kiefer, William Wegman, Chris Burden and Ellsworth Kelly, and other you may not, such as Gulliermo Gomez- Pena and Felice Rice, Timothy C. Ely and Wei Tain; as well as some who are not artists, such as Dave Eggers, whose shower curtain with printed text, is yet another type of artist’s book.

The exhibition is itself inspirited by a book, “Artists and their books/ Books and their Artists” by Marcia Reed, the GRI’s chief curator and Glenn Phillips, the GRI’s head of modern and contemporary art collections.