The Library and Research Center (LRC) holds more than 800 unique and limited-edition books by women artists in a variety of mediums, complementing an additional 200 held in the museum’s fine arts collection.
An artist’s book is a work of art in book form. Objects in this medium can be entirely handmade or mass-produced and vary in the degree of focus on content, form, and materials. Many artists encourage readers to rethink the nature of the book and reading in new and unexpected ways. Contemporary artists’ books range from fine craft letterpress works to one-of-a-kind or limited-edition art objects presented in a wide variety of materials and book formats. Artists incorporate typography, papermaking, paper engineering, bookmaking, design, fine art, graphics, creative writing, and digital media into their book works.
Artists’ Books at the LRC
Artists’ books have been an important part of the Library and Research Center since the museum’s beginnings. The collection formally started in 1986, when NMWA founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay purchased Caroline (1985) by Swiss surrealist Meret Oppenheim. The museum collection now comprises more than 1,000 unique books and limited editions created by women artists in a variety of formats, from scrolls and accordions to codices and sculptures. The library holds over 800 of these artists’ books, including works by prominent book artists such as Ida Applebroog, Mirella Bentivoglio, Michele Burgess, Julie Chen, Laura Davidson, Johanna Drucker, Colette Fu, Carol Schwartzott, Clarissa Sligh, and Kiki Smith.
In addition to artists’ books, the library contains print materials about the book arts.