It Has to Be a Book–Michelle’s Vote Goes to Brian Dettmer

Before this assignment, I hadn’t really spent any time looking into “book artists” (besides the occasional pin on Pinterest). I was concerned that approaching this assignment so late in the week (how is it already Tuesday?) would make this assignment extra difficult because I would first have to find these book artists that I’d never heard of. It turns out that this is a whole thing. People are doing this. A lot of people are doing this…this thing called book art. And I kind of like it.

Just going through Google images I found that I liked everything I saw, but I was more interested in the art that didn’t just use the book as raw sculptural material. I was drawn to those books that looked artful and sculptural, but still preserved the text in some way. I think “book art” should still include some original part of “the book” whatever that means in the context of each work. Brian Dettmer is an example of someone who does this well, I think.

In this image (below) for example, I appreciate the way that Dettmer has made the book a stationary object by gluing the pages, creating a new object, while preserving layers of the original text so that it’s still readable, preserving the “book”ness of it. Image

It’s not the same story of course, if it’s a story at all, but he’s utilizing the work of the original writer, not just the bookmaker which is a critical component for me. I still appreciate other artists’ work that use the physical form of the book with no thought to the text on the page, but there’s a different kind of appreciate or awe for me. It makes me wonder “why use a book” in those cases. Why not just use old paper or a box or other raw materials. For Dettmer’s art (or what I’ve seen of it), it has to be a book. This couldn’t have been created without a book, and more specifically, that book.

For those of you who are interested in reading more about Brian Dettmer, I pulled this image and my information about his work from this website: 

I especially love this image:


It reminds me a little of the book I referenced in class, Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran, although Safran’s is actually meant to be read as a story and I’m not sure Dettmer’s intent is the same with his art.


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