The Unusual and Sometimes Bizarre Book Binding
  • Fresh Cream: Contemporary Art in Culture: 10 Curators, 10 Writers, 100 Artists. Call number: N6490 .F74 2000
  • Zena Zipporah's The Universe (front) is covered in found objects like shells, bones and feathers. Call number: N7433.4.Z57 U55 1990z
  • Zena Zipporah's The Universe (back) is covered in found objects like shells, bones and feathers. Call number: N7433.4.Z57 U55 1990z
  • Urge, by artist Fons Schobbers, is bound in faux tiger fur with a bronze sculpture piece inscribed with the artist's name and attached to the spine. Call number: N6953.S36 A2 1993
  • Instead of bound separately or housed in a box, the multi-volume set Murmur, published by the Fruit Market Gallery, is attached by magnets placed in the spines. The volumes can be rearranged to view the artist's work in any order. Call number: N6537.G347 A4 2005
  • Javier Perez's Estancias is covered in rubber.
  • Cenotaph by Christine Kermaire is covered in cloth, with a metal vent coming out of the front cover. Call number: N6973.K47 A4 2002
  • Il libromacchina (imbullonato) di Fortuanato Depero Futurista is a book containing the works of the Futurist artist, Fortunato Depero. The book has no spine at all and is held together by two metal bolts. The bolts represent the philosophy of the movement's association with machinery. Call number: N6923.D44 C37 1987
  • The catalog for the exhibition, The Machine, as seen at the end of the mechanical age, sports a metal cover attached to the text block with rivets. Call number: N6494.K5 H8 1968
  • Schoerner's The Order of Things illustrates the photographer's work in a circular fashion, with the images flowing one into another to create a narrative. Call number: TR642 .S33 2001
  • Schoerner's The Order of Things illustrates the photographer's work in a circular fashion, with the images flowing one into another to create a narrative. Call number: TR642 .S33 2001
  • Vector Rev by Kevin Osborn contains movable loose sheets bound by two elongated pieces of aluminum, referred to as "a compressed spiral loading radii off a central point", further expressed by its title. Call number: N7433.4.O83 A4 1983
  • Vector Rev by Kevin Osborn contains movable loose sheets bound by two elongated pieces of aluminum, referred to as "a compressed spiral loading radii off a central point", further expressed by its title. Call number: N7433.4.O83 A4 1983
  • The exhibition catalog for Gaetano Pesce is bound in the free-form shape of vinyl incorporating a question mark reflecting the subtitle, Les temps des questions. Call number: N6923.P39 A4 1996
  • This example displays a two-volume set with the smaller-sized book (titled Actions) fitted into a larger-sized book (titled Emotions), expressing the photographer, Lou Reed's, philosophy of living life, as "emotion in action." Call number: N8217.E53 R44 2003
  • The Consistency of Shadows: exhibition catalogs as autonomous works of art holds the CD-ROM in a slot which is placed through folded sheets as opposed to the typical location in a back pocket. This creates a 3-D effect. The unusual design demonstrates the subject of the exhibition--the co-existence and visual art production of artists' books and exhibition catalogs. Call number: N7433.3 .C66 2003
  • This example displays a two-volume set with the smaller-sized book (titled Actions) fitted into a larger-sized book (titled Emotions), expressing the photographer, Lou Reed's, philosophy of living life, as "emotion in action." Call number: N8217.E53 R44 2003
  • Spoon's waved metal cover represents the title, which highlights contemporary industrial designers. Call number: TS171 .S69 2002
  • Spoon's waved metal cover represents the title, which highlights contemporary industrial designers. Call number: TS171 .S69 2002
  • Marcel Duchamp is a wooden box, described as Duchamp's "mental" chessboard and used to depict his life-long love of the game and as subject matter for some of his important art pieces.
  • Marcel Duchamp is a wooden box, described as Duchamp's "mental" chessboard and used to depict his life-long love of the game and as subject matter for some of his important art pieces.
  • My Face for the World to See is in a diary format and includes actual diary entries from the artist Candy Darling. Call number: HQ77.8.D37 A35 1997
  • Artist Christine Kermaire has affixed toy soldiers to the front cover to represent the title, In memory of the unknown soldier. Call number: N7433.4.K47 A4 1994
  • Mariko Mori: wave ufo is a bound volume placed in a plastic case with three concave grooves in the shape of an alien face to represent the subtitle. Call number: N7359.M67 A4 2003
  • Sous les ponts, le long de la riviere... can be used as an actual "handbag" for easy access to the exhibition materials (map, guide, catalogs) inside while moving about town to see the site-specific installations. Call number: N6494.I56 S68 2001
  • Sous les ponts, le long de la riviere... can be used as an actual "handbag" for easy access to the exhibition materials (map, guide, catalogs) inside while moving about town to see the site-specific installations. Call number: N6494.I56 S68 2001
  • This publication from Kunsthaus Zurich holds loose-leaf items highlighting museum reproductions contained in a metal box.
  • This publication from Kunsthaus Zurich holds loose-leaf items highlighting museum reproductions contained in a metal box.
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The Unusual and Sometimes Bizarre Book Binding

Within the collection of the Ingalls Library, there are thousands of books bound in the traditional manner, used for hundreds of years, with a text block sewn or glued together and attached to a soft or hard cover. New technologies in the 20th century have produced books bound in thoroughly untraditional ways.

The evolution of the artist's book (the artist's creation in the form of a book) has been very influential on book binding in its quest to follow the notion that the book can be manipulated into whatever the creative process dictates. Over the last few decades this trend has been picked up increasingly by publishers and has become especially popular in fine arts publishing. The examples shown are a combination of artists' books, exhibition catalogs, museum catalogs and fine arts publications.

The materials used throughout the centuries to cover a binding included leather, wood, paper, parchment, textiles, metals, ivory, tortoiseshell, Perspex and cloth, with leather, parchment, paper and cloth used most often. Some decorative techniques included use of precious metals, enameling, embroidery or impressing leather. Current bindings use many of the same materials combined in different manners while others introduce new and exotic materials such as feathers.

Additional changes which work to reveal innovative ways to express the author's and/or artist's individualism include the use of shape, the content of the book reflected on the exterior and/or the absence of an exterior binding altogether.