Skip to Main Content

Book Art

Guide to Book Arts at VCU

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. 

Artist Book Terms

Book Art Slideshow

Paper Engineering Exhibit