The Book as a Work of Art: the Contemporary Book in its Historical Context

Current Faculty: Peter Koch

Description: Students will closely examine a wide selection of books by an international array of contemporary artists, printers, and artisans that exemplify the book as an art form and practice. We will pay particularly close attention to the new and traditional technologies in current practice, and compare them with historical examples in the rich history of the printed word as represented in UC Berkeley Bancroft Library collection.  Points of similarity and divergence between contemporary work and the historical tradition as exemplified in the arts of typography, printing, binding structure, and papermaking over the last two millennia will be discussed in order to better familiarize participants with the threads that run through the book as a work of art. Close attention will be paid to the conceptual framework or meaning as conveyed by the material aspects of the book as art-object.

Class discussions will also focus on how to build stronger connections between contemporary artist books, rare books of the past, and current academic practices in the liberal arts in order to strengthen client use of artist books in classroom situations.

Field trips will be arranged to the Studios of Peter Koch Printers and the CODEX Foundation, and to Stanford University Library Special Collections.

Years taught: 2016, 2018