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Artists' Books

About the Collection

Our collection

The University of Rochester's first artists' books were added to the collection by former Art Librarian Stephanie Frontz in 1973. However, it was not until the late 1990s that the collection began to expand, influenced greatly by the local Visual Studies Workshop and the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale NY. The collection contains over 270 bookworks and is ever growing. Pieces in the collection range from small press published works, one-of-a-kind works, local works, and students works.

The Art & Music Artists’ Book collection is a circulating collection and teaching collection. The goal of the collection is to provide resources for students and faculty as artists and researchers.


What are Artists' Books?

The term Artists’ Books (including the placement of the apostrophe) has been heavily debated in the art world for decades. There is no universally accepted definition, which mirrors the flexibility of the art form itself. I will place some definitions below, but I invite you to create your own definition.


A conceptual book created by artist as an object of art is called an artist’s book (artist or artists’ book). 

-Artist’s Book Museum

Unlike an art book, catalog or monograph that tend to showcase artworks created in another medium, the term ‘artists’ books’ refers to publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right…While artists’ books can take many forms, there are a few elements that are common across the practice. Understanding a book as an artwork invites a reflection on the properties of the book form itself. Much like any act of reading, an artists’ book is a physical experience that allows a connection with the medium that – while social in its implications – is individual and personal. The artists’ book invites us to hold it and turn through its pages. Whether the contents are visually or linguistically based (often a mix of both), physically moving through an artwork implicates notions of sequence, repetition, juxtaposition, and duration. The interplay of text and images, as well as considerations of printing process and the design of the book, allows for many exciting possibilities within narrative, media, and meaning that are specific to the artists’ book alone.

-Printed Matter Inc.

Clive Phillpot's Artists’ Books "Fruit Salad" Diagram

-Clive Phillpot's Artists’ Books "Fruit Salad" Diagram, 1982