Bookwork takes our passion for books to its logical extreme - by studying artists who employ found or simulated books as a sculptural medium and investigating the conceptual labor behind this proliferating international art practice. Garrett Stewart looks at hundreds of book-like objects, alone or as part of gallery installations, in this original account of works that force attention upon a book's material identity and cultural resonance. Less an inquiry into the artist's book than an exploration of the book's contemporary objecthood, Stewart's stimulating blend of visual theory and bibliophilia traces the lineage of these aggressive artifacts from the 1919 Unhappy Readymade of Marcel Duchamp down to the current crisis of paper-based media in the digital era. Ranging from appropriated to fabricated book forms, from hacksawed discards to the giant lead folios of Anselm Kiefer, the unreadable books illustrated and discussed in Bookwork offer timely lessons in the history of reading, writing, and art making.
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