Experimental book art?
March 8, 2012 7:19 AM   Subscribe

What are the most fascinating examples of book art, currently in print and affordable?

I am interested in building a collection of conceptual book art. By that I do not mean books about art, but books as art. Facsimiles of illuminated manuscripts, experimental books, and great examples of design are my interests. I know of several already, such as a new one that requires a webcam to see, a facsimile manuscript by the psychologist Carl Jung, an accordion-folded book based on Mesoamerican codices, and a book with ever page die-cut. I am more interested in book art geared toward adults than geared toward children, which is intellectually engaging. Are there other examples that you can suggest?
posted by tnygard to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's a novel, but Danielewski's House of Leaves could fit into that category as there was an equal amount of thought put into the aesthetics of the text on the page as the narrative.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2012

(If you've never seen it, this GIS should give you an idea of what's going on in there.)
posted by griphus at 7:23 AM on March 8, 2012

I'm not sure if fits what you're looking for exactly, but I've always loved Abelardo Morell's A Book of Books. It's a book of photographs of books, very cleverly done.
posted by stampsgal at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

There was a metafilter thread on the Codex Seraphinianus which might fit the bill. There were other titles mentioned in-thread.
posted by miorita at 7:34 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

This doesn't speak for every edition, but at least once a year McSweeney's comes out with something awesomely wacky. An issue of things inside 'your' head, as a box of war propaganda, as a pile of junk mail, with a comb and a story on a deck of cards that can be shuffled in any order.
posted by shes_ajar at 7:34 AM on March 8, 2012

Yeah the Codex is great, but it's hella out of print.
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on March 8, 2012

the Siglio Press produces a lot of limited-run art/verse books. They may not experiment with the actual physical format of a book, but they certainly will be unique in your library.
posted by Think_Long at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2012

Jazz by H.Matisse. It's not so cutting edge anymore but it's still beautiful/exceptional.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2012

I'm a fan of The Grammar of Ornament. It's not an art book, per se, but it's probably the most beautiful thing you can pick up at Barnes & Noble for under $20.

(FWIW I think the edition I linked - a very pretty and affordable one - is out of print, but this is one of the classic books on design which isn't going anywhere anytime soon.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 AM on March 8, 2012

Meant to say "not book art, per se". It is most certainly an art book, in the sense of a book about art. It's just not an artists' book, meaning a piece of art in the form of a book.
posted by Sara C. at 8:07 AM on March 8, 2012

Yeah the Codex is great, but it's hella out of print.

Amazon has the new edition for $116 - I don't know if this rates as affordable.

There are some other potential candidates on the search page for the Codex , such as Une Semaine De Bonte: A Surrealistic Novel in Collage by Max Ernst or Jung's The Red Book (here are a few pages).

There are also modern editions of medieval manuscripts, if you are also looking for something like that.
posted by miorita at 8:07 AM on March 8, 2012

B. S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates comprises a box containing 27 pamphlets & loose pages: except for the opening and closing sections, the remaining 25 sections are intended to be read in random order.

The Redstone Press occasionally publish eye-catching little boxed-books.

I’ve not read it myself, but Marian Bantjes’ I Wonder is apparently a lovely volume.
posted by misteraitch at 8:32 AM on March 8, 2012

A Humument - a random Victorian novel altered with cut-up techniques. More info here.
posted by googly at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2012

This 2011 rendition of Nabokov's Pale Fire is lovely. It's kind of hard to describe, but, notecards!
posted by redsparkler at 8:57 AM on March 8, 2012

Check out the work of Dexter Sinister.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:12 AM on March 8, 2012

Unlinkely to be affordable, but totally awesome and the first thing I could think upon reading the question.
posted by Jawn at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2012

The Griffin and Sabine books by Nick Bantock - still in print.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:03 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Anne Carson's Nox?
posted by dearwassily at 2:17 PM on March 8, 2012

A previous MeFi question of mine was on a similar theme... here also is the 3quarksdaily article it resulted in
posted by 0bvious at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2012

Not sure if this qualifies but I love this book: Brooch. The book designer overlays transparencies that create a lovely experience of reading the poem/lyric.
posted by biscuits at 11:37 AM on March 9, 2012

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