H-155. The History of Artists’ Books since 1950

Tony White

This course will review the history of twentieth- and twenty-first century artists’ books and related publications, focusing on transformations in publishing leading to deeper engagement among various communities of artists. Starting in the 1950s and continuing to the present, this course will consider how this genre was formed and influences on it. Our discussions will also include: what is and is not an artist’s book, strategies for collection development, acquisition challenges, handling, teaching with these collections, as well as preservation and conservation challenges. This course is appropriate for anyone interested in learning more about this genre of contemporary art and publishing, students, librarians, artists, and others interested in collecting, teaching with, or exhibiting these kinds of books.

In addition to surveying the history of artists’ books, participants will consider artists’ strategies and techniques, course readings from a variety of fields, and criteria for evaluation (content, printing, construction, other factors). The course will include a visit to an important museum library collection to view significant and esoteric works within this genre. The class will also include a visit to a shop that sells artists’ books, and possibly a visit to the home of a private collector.

Course History

Tony White teaches this course.
This course is cancelled for Summer 2020.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
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Tony White

Tony White

Tony White is the Florence and Herbert Irving Associate Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before coming to The Met, he was Director of Decker Library, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); prior to MICA, he served as Head of the Fine Arts Library, Indiana University Bloomington, where he was the Director of the Specialization in Art Librarianship, teaching the Art Librarianship seminar, and the Art History Research Methods course. He has taught studio art courses on artists’ books at MICA and Pratt Institute. He was the first appointed Field Editor for Artists’ Books and Books for Artists for the College Art Association’s online reviews journal. He has curated exhibitions at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library, the Museum of Printing History, The Center for Book Arts, the Lilly Library, and the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, among others.  He is a founding board member of the College Book Art Association, and a founder of the Contemporary Artist’s Books Conference held each fall at MOMA’s PS 1 since 2008, as part of the New York Art Book Fair. For several years he served on the editorial board the Journal of Artist’s Books, guest editing issue 25. 

His board service includes the Center for Book Arts (NYC), the College Book Art Association, and the Kinsey Institute. Prior to library school he worked as a book and paper conservation technician, first on an NEDCC and National Park Service project with the Frederic Law Olmsted plans and drawings collections, then at Yale University working on the Charles Ives music manuscript collection, and early printed maps of America. He has published articles, catalogs essays, and book chapters on artists’ books, artists’ publishing, and topics in art librarianship.  He has a post-M.L.S. certificate in preservation management for libraries and archives from Rutgers University, an M.L.S. from Indiana University Bloomington with a concentration in art librarianship, and an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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