The Clark library began collecting artists’ books in 1976, working closely with American artist Martha Wilson, who formed the Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. that same year. Acquisitions of the 1970s and 1980s reflected the spirit of the Furnace, which sought to preserve and promote multiple-edition, inexpensively-fabricated books by conceptual artists. Highlights include Fluxus publications, as well as works by Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner, and Ed Ruscha. The collection has continued to grow over the last three decades, adding fine-press and limited-edition works by notable book artists such as Angela Lorenz, Julie Chen, Ellen Gallagher, and Johanna Drucker, and now numbers over 5000 titles. The collection is limited to works that are printed in multiple editions; it does not include unique, one-of-a-kind works. Books whose formats challenge the definition of “book,” and might even challenge the act of reading, are an integral and fascinating part of the collection.
The volumes that make up the Artists’ Books Collection can be considered as both contemporary works of art and as documents of contemporary art. As artists often utilize the book format to make statements about art historical representation, installation, museum and collection practices, the collection contributes to the conversation of these important issues for contemporary art historians in a variety of fields.
In addition to its scholarly contributions the collection has countless examples of books that mystify, that surprise, that engage the mind and the senses (including touch, sound, and smell as well as sight) in magical ways, and that quite simply enchant, opening up new ways of thinking about what books are and what they do to give us a deeper understanding of the world, ourselves, and one another.
If you are an artist with a book featured here and you wish your book to be removed from this site, please contact [email protected].