Ambe and Duchamp

After our class discussion, the Wikipedia entry linked on the home page, and my search for this week’s response, I found myself with more new questions than answered ones. For instance: what aren’t artists books? Can’t commercially printed works with stunning layouts and beautiful cover art be just as artistic as those that are crafted by hand? If the function of a work is lost, is it still a book, or is it artistic material? Are hand-crafted, decorative books categorically the same as less ornate books repurposed into another form of art?

It was with these questions in mind that I found two works that called out to me. The first is the work below, “Artists who make pieces, Artists who do books”, by Japanese-born artists Noriko Ambe.  Ambe has repurposed an art book from modernist Ed Ruscha by cutting pages to create a layered wave of color, thus creating a new work entirely. The work is visually stunning, and further prompts monologue about the nature of art books and of collaboration.

Book Art from Ambe

Cover of Le Surréalisme by DuchampThe second work that caught me is the book Le Surréalisme by Marcel Duchamp , the artist that gave us the hotly debated Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 and Fountain.

Le Surréalisme positions a sculpture of a human breast atop a field of black, amid an otherwise vacant flesh-colored book. For me the piece works like much of Duchamp’s art; it attempts to challenge what art can be and mean, and explores the possibilities of mixed media.




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