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Markovich, Kristine—Art Documentation
Markovich, Kristine. "Review of Artists' Books." Art Documentation 15.1 (1996): 65.

Several volumes on artists' books have recently appeared; this one is unique in that it is centered around a bibliography. The first section of Artists' Books consists of short (two to five page) essays on various historical aspects of artists' books: "The artist and the book format," "Towards a History of Artists' Books," "Mallarmé and Broodthaers," "Futurist Books," "Fluxus books," "Minimalist and Conceptual Books," and "Women and Artists' Books." Although the years 1963- 1995 are singled out in the title, they are not the focus of the essays.

A valuable note on collecting artists' books offers advice for the potential collector or librarian and begins the second and largest section. The selective bibliography of artists' books contains 503 entries based on the ARLIS UK and Eire standards for cataloging artists' books which the author helped develop. The list is arranged chronologically by publication year of the book; artist and title access are offered only through the index. There is a predominance of European publications. No selection criteria are expressed, nor is the bibliography annotated to explain an item's inclusion. Ninety-seven titles are accompanied by photographs which do not always appear on the same page as their corresponding item. Captions are not provided and the list of illustrations is at the very beginning of the book making identification awkward.

The scholarly apparati comprise a chronology, glossary, general bibliography, and index. These are the areas which, if thoroughly developed, would have made an excellent reference work. In spite of the suggested focus on 1963- 1995, half the chronology deals with pre-1963 developments. If expanded both in number and length of post-1963 entries, the chronology could be a useful resource for the appearance of workshops and production of influential books. The one-page glossary defines important terms such as edition, issue, and impression and includes book arts terminology, but does not intend to be comprehensive. The extensive index and general bibliography distinguish this volume as a reference tool. It contains the largest bibliography on artists' books since the excellent publication Artists' Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook (Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop, 1985). Fairly comprehensive for early aspects of artists' books, the bibliography lacks some periodical literature, exhibition catalogues, and ephemeral material, especially regarding contemporary American book artists.

Electronic publications of artists' books' information is only mentioned in the essay on women artists, where Bury suggests that the World Wide Web might be a suitable publishing venue for women. A treatment of contemporary artists' books can be found in Johanna Drucker's The Century of Artists' Books (New York: Granary Books, 1995), a new title which provides quality discussion, photographs and citations about today's creators and collectors of artists' books, but unfortunately no bibliography. Given the growth of interest in artists' books, perhaps there will eventually be a publication combining the bibliographic effort of Bury with fully developed essays and more photographs—the ultimate artists' books reference tool. With only 223 pages (and a lot of white space), the price of this volume seems excessive, especially when there are more affordable books available. This title is recommended to libraries or museums considering collecting artists' books, or those with artists' books holdings that wish to further document items in their collections.
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