Image for exposition

Copy, tweak, paste: methods of appropriation in re-enacted artists' books

Rob van Leijsen

Iconic artists’ books from the 1960s and 1970s have recently been subject to numerous attempted appropriations by publishers and artists, resulting in the production of facsimiles and bootlegs of famous titles. The original versions of artists’ books from the 1960s and 1970s have become scarce over time because of the relentless interest of art dealers and antiquarians, who sell the books for extraordinary prices. Outside the art and book markets, rare artists’ books are mainly available for consultation in libraries or exhibited in showcases. A re-enactment tendency concerning artists’ books has become a recurrent phenomena, the result or answer to the scarce status some artists’ books hold today. Reviewing several re-enacted artists’ books produced by artists and publishers allows their methods of appropriation to be identified and the discourses of this practice to be pursued. Written from the perspective of a graphic designer, the focus lies on visible technical aspects of book production, such as materials and production techniques, which allow comparison of the books, their makers, and their discourses. The conclusion surveys the found methods used by artists and publishers and discusses future tasks in producing and disseminating re-enacted artists’ books, as well as redefining the position of graphic designers in this process.