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15 FEBRUARY 2015

Smithsonian Libraries Artists' Books Collection Online

"Artists' books are works of art, like paintings or sculptures, but in book form. While book illustration has a much longer history, the book as art object is a product of the 20th century. Some of the early examples were created by Futurists and Dadaists in their politically–motivated pamphlets and magazines, by Fluxus artists in their happenings, and by conceptual artists' in their work to dematerialize the art object. Artists' books can also be unique creations undertaken with extreme care and attention to detail. Some are experimental and done by artists better known as painters or sculptors, as a way to extend their artistic practice. Many artists use the book format to create narratives to deal with difficult issues, with ideas that cannot be conveyed as clearly on a canvas or other medium. Some artist–made books illustrate the words of others, integrating art and literature. And some artists' books do not have words at all. As a work created by an artist, the nature, appearance and purpose, of an artist's book can be fundamentally different from what one might find on the shelves of the library.

Artists' books exist at the intersections of printmaking, photography, poetry, experimental narrative, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing. They have made a place for themselves in the collections of museums, libraries, and private collectors. They have caught the interest of art historians and critics writing about art, and there are numerous studio programs in art schools dedicated to the art of the book, ushering in new generations of artists making books."

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TAGS

20th century • art and literature • art object • artist-made books • artists books • artists making books • Barbara Krugerbook formbook formatbook publishing • cataloguer • cataloguing challenge • Claire Van Vliet • Cooper Hewitt Library • cross-institution collaboration • culture onlineDada • defy easy classification • Dibner Library • diorama • Ed Ruscha • experimental books • FluxusFuturism (art movement) • Georges Adeagbo • graphic designhappenings • Hirshhorn Museum • Ida Applebroog • illustrating the words of others • Joe Freedman • Julie Chen • Kara Walker • Laura Davidson • library catalogue • Luan Nel • museum collectionsnational cultural heritage online • National Museum of African Art • National Portrait Gallery Library • online resource • pamphlets • paper engineering • photographypoetry • politically motivated • pop-up booksprintmaking • Smithsonian American Art Museum • Smithsonian Design Library • Smithsonian LibrariesSol LeWitt • the art of the book • Thomas Parker Williams • unusual physical features • Virginia Flynn • visual arts • Warren M Robbins Library • William Kentridgeworks of artYoko Ono

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 NOVEMBER 2012

Su Blackwell: paper craft dioramas of childhood wonder and anxiety

"I often work within the realm of fairy–tales and folk–lore. I began making a series of book–sculpture, cutting–out images from old books to create three–dimensional diorama's, and displaying them inside wooden boxes. ...

For the cut–out illustrations, I tend to lean towards young–girl characters, placing them in haunting, fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and choice of subtle colour."

(Su Blackwell)

Fig.1 Su Blackwell (2008). "The Girl in the Wood" [http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio–book–cut–sculpture/]

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2011book sculpturebookschildhood • childhood anxiety • childhood wonder • cut-outcut-out illustrationdesign craftdioramafairy talesfolklorefragilityhaunting imagesillustrated bookpaper dioramapapercraft • quiet melancholy • Su Blackwell • subtle colour • vulnerabilityvulnerability of childhood • wooden box • young girl

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 MARCH 2012

Shadow puppetry matches dreamlike quality of Kate Bush song

"50 Word's for Snow found the elusive Kate Bush at her most stark and stripped–down. The album was the aural equivalent of a single line of footsteps in a snowy pasture. It's no wonder then that Bush, who has always been skilled at pairing her music with their equivalent visuals, turned away from her trademark cinematics for the video of her song, 'Lake Tahoe.'

In the album version of 'Lake Tahoe,' only quiet strings and a piano accompany Bush as she weaves a tale of an old dog dreaming of his owner. And while the full song explains the animal's true situation, Bush – who directed the video herself – has trimmed it down into a more ambiguous excerpt here.

Her use of shadow puppetry matches song's dreamlike quality. The stark contrast between the black figures and the white world makes each set piece seem mystical. The dog runs through phantasmagorical lands filled with spooky woods, looking for his owner. It's beautiful in its simplicity – emphasizing small subtle movements over big extravagance. The elegant design of the puppets mixes fantasy elements like the moving trees with realistic pieces such as the soft sway of the woman's hair."

(Dan Raby, 24 January 2012, All Songs Considered Blog, National Public Radio)

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2012 • 50 • 50 Words for Snow • aestheticsblack and whitedesigndioramadogdreamlike quality • Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe • elegant designfantasyfantasy elements • graphic • hair • Kate Bush • Lake Tahoe • monochromatic • moving trees • music video • National Public Radio • NPRphantasmagoriaphantasmagoricalpuppetpuppetry • Robert Allsopp • shadowshadow puppetshallow focussimplicityspooky woodsstripped-down • subtle movements • tale • visual designvisual spectaclevisual storyvisual style

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 SEPTEMBER 2011

Tunnel box miniature theatre of garden scene with dancers

"Title devised by cataloger. The set includes six hand–colored etched prints on light gray laid paper, with sections carefully cut out to create a perspective view when the prints are arranged in a viewing box. The prints are numbered 373, 374, 375, 376, 377, and 378. The set number (56) appears on print no. 378; the prints are otherwise without text.

Attributed to the engraver and print–seller Martin Engelbrecht of Augsburg, Germany. Artists Jeremias Wachsmuth or David Nessenthaler may have collaborated on the illustrations."

(Smithsonian Institution)

Fig. 1 Martin Engelbrecht [Garden scene with dancers, to be used as the set for a miniature theatre]

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2D3D space • amusements • Augsburg • dancers • David Nessenthaler • diorama • engraver • etchingfigures in spaceframe • garden scene • Germany • hand-coloured • illustrationin a box • Jeremias Wachsmuth • layer • Martin Engelbrecht • miniature • miniature theatre • optical toypaper dioramapapercraftperspectiveperspective viewproscenium archSmithsonian Institutespace-frametatebankotheatre • theatrical set • tunnel booktunnel box • viewing box • visual design

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 SEPTEMBER 2011

The Art of Tatebanko

"河出書房新社さんから「そのまま立版古」という本が出版されました。 広重、北斎の名作浮世絵を元素材に、5作品が立版古になったものを作って楽しめるキット本となっています。 またキット部分以外でも簡単な「立版古の説明」などの情報もあります。出来上がりは丁度手のひらに乗るくらいのコンパクトな感じに仕上がります。"

Fig.1 Hokusai (circa 1830). "The Great Wave off Kanagawa (北斎 / 神奈川沖浪裏), woodblock print

Fig.2 Daniel Rua (February 2010)

[Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa uses layering much like that used in the traditional Japanese art form of Tatebanko.]

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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