VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Book Art

Guide to Book Arts at VCU

Contact Us!

books with decorated spines lined up on a shelf

If you have a question or would like to schedule an appointment, class, or research consultation, contact us at 

libjbcsca@vcu.edu 

(804) 828-1108

Where is the collection?

Special Collections & Archives

Location: 4th floor, Cabell Library

Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm

By appointment only

Phone:  (804) 828-1108

Food and drink are not permitted.

VCU Libraries' Book Art Collection

The VCU Book Art Collection includes over 4,000 items and is housed in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. The collection is international in scope and is strongest in publications from the 1960s to the present. It encompasses all aspects of contemporary book art publications ranging from photobooks to sculptural book works. Seminal works such as Edward Ruscha's Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Dieter Roth's 246 Little Clouds, and Barbara Kruger's No Progress in Pleasure are featured in the collection. In addition to artists' books, the collection includes serials, exhibition catalogs, and reference materials. A selection of concrete, sound, and visual poetry is also housed within the collection. 

What is Book Art?

Book art, also known as artists’ books, are works of art that reference or use the form of the book to convey meaning. Artists have full control over the process of creation, the contents, the aesthetics, the materials, and the end product of their artists' books. Works can be made as unique objects, in limited editions, or in larger or open edition sizes. 

Artists' books can employ a full range of techniques, methods, and approaches. These include, but are not limited to:

  • hand binding
  • letterpress printing
  • digital printing
  • photography
  • printmaking
  • calligraphy and hand lettering
  • painting and drawing
  • graphic designing
  • paper engineering
  • automated/machine production

Some artists identify themselves as book artists and focus primarily on making artists' books. Artists who specialize in different areas, such as graphic design, painting, printmaking, or photography, also experiment with book art. 

Book Art Slideshow