February 27 - March 17, 2017


Özge Karagöz (curator)


Some artists’ books are easier to display in glass display cases than others. One can install, say, an accordion book behind glass so that its beholder can experience it without much limitation. However, codex books—those that are bound around a spine and require one to turn their pages—pose a problem. How does one engage with codex books when it is not possible to turn their pages? Sequentiality, narrativity, tactility, as well as the very experience of turning pages are only some qualities that codex artists’ books lose when they are installed behind glass. Wider public visibility of artists’ books, then, sometimes comes at the expense of their full experience.

This exhibition of artists’ books takes on this problem, namely of exhibiting artists’ books in display cases. To articulate this problem, this exhibition considers reference books about artists’ books as another site of display, where one can experience artists' books through their images, through flattened views of artists' books as if looking at them through glass: on the pages of reference books about artists' books, too, one experiences artists’ books from a few, selected angles afforded by photographic representation.


This is an exhibition in two parts. The glass display cases in the 5th Floor hallway of SAIC’s Sharp Building host the first part of the exhibition. These glass display cases accommodate scanned pages from reference books that display artists’ books through photographic means. The second part of the exhibition takes place in the Flaxman Library Special Collections Reading Room, a few steps away from the display cases. The artists’ books referenced in the display cases are on display in the Reading Room, uninhibited by glass. Taking advantage of its close proximity to the Reading Room in which visitors are permitted to touch and browse artists’ books, this part of the exhibition enables a more intimate experience with the artists’ books on display, a mode of experiencing works of art that drive artists to employ the book form as part of their artistic practice in the first place.

The artists in the exhibition include Marcel Broodthaers, Helen Douglas and Telfer Stokes, Marcel Duchamp, Susan King, Kevin Osborn, Tom Phillips, Ed Ruscha, Michael Snow, Jan Voss, and Andy Warhol. The reference books in the exhibition include artists' books: The Book As a Work of Art, 1963-1995 (1995) by Stephen Bury; Speaking of Book Art (1999) by Cathy Courtney; The Century of Artists’ Books (1995) by Joanna Drucker; Books by Artists, ed. Tim Guest (1981); Masters: Book Arts, Major Works by Leading Artists, ed. Julie Hale and Beth Sweet (2011); Malerbücher – Künstlerbücher, ed. Martin Hellmold and Anne Thurmann-Jajes (2001); The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists’ Books (1999) by Renée Riese Hubert and Judd D. Hubert; Artists’ Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook, ed. Joan Lyons (1985); Various Small Books (2013) by Phil Taylor.

*The maker of this exhibition would like to thank Kayla Anderson and Doro Boehme of the Flaxman Library Special Collections for their support, nurturing questioning, and friendship that facilitated the making of this exhibition.

Table Of Contents

A Voyage on the North Sea, Marcel Broodthaers, RA 2.679

Chinese Whispers, Helen Douglas, 20.69

Real Fiction: an Inquiry into the Bookerewsque, Telfer Stokes, 91.3

Women and Cars, Susan Elizabeth King, 92.10

A Humument, Tom Phillips, 82.59

Tentysix Gasoline Stations, Edward Ruscha, RA 2.169

Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Edward Ruscha, RA 2.267

Cover to Cover, Michael Snow, RA 2.424

Andy Warhol’s Index, Andy Warhol, ABR N6537.W28 A8




Özge Karagöz (curator), “ON DISPLAY,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed August 18, 2019, https://flaxman.omeka.net/items/show/91.