Artists' Books

Artists' Books

What are artists’ books?

There are innumerable descriptions but we like the one used by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, opens a new window: "'Artist's books' don’t look like most volumes found in a library. They are art objects in the form of books. As with painting or sculpture, much of the "story" in these books is visual. An idea may be illustrated in the book’s shape or binding, in the materials used, or in the artist’s choice of images. Words may be used to reinforce a message, but they are not always essential to the book’s meaning. Book artists often design, typeset, illustrate, print, and bind their own work, or at least supervise all these stages of production. Instead of paper, an artist may use clay, metal, or other materials. Artist’s books, recognizable yet new, can challenge us to explore innovative ways of seeing, learning, and understanding."

About the Collection

Our collection of artists’ books grew out of Alice S. Plaut’s interest in livres d’artiste. In the late 1950s, Mrs. Plaut (who, at the time, was the Head of the Art and Music Department) recognized the importance of this fascinating new contemporary art form. She began actively collecting volumes of rare and important works, along with materials devoted to that era’s trends in modern art. In recognition of her leadership, the Plaut Fund was established in 1968. This fund is used to expand the Library’s collection of artists’ books.

Today, our collection includes the work of international, national, and local artists. Notable titles include:.

Double-unsupported Butterfly by Gabrielle Fox
The Kiss by Mark Fox
The Menu by Toby Lee Greenberg
Bluestem by Karen Hanmer
World Peace by Edward Hutchins
Foreign Correspondence by Diana Duncan Holmes and Timothy Riordan
Train Log by Heidi Kyle
Attracted to Light by Mike and Doug Starn
Paradise: Nature, Stardust, Music & Romance by Peter Thomas
Brief Marks by Jan Voss

The collection is housed in the Main Library’s Local History and Genealogy Department. If you’d like to browse through some of the treasures in the collection, just stop by the department’s service desk—our staff will be happy to assist you!

Related Resources


Related books from the Library

Local Resources


The Cincinnati Book Arts Society,, opens a new window a nonprofit organization dedicated to the book arts, offers exhibitions, workshops, and lectures “for book lovers of all kinds, from beginners to seasoned professionals.”

The College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, opens a new window (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati periodically hosts exhibits that showcase their artists’ book collection.

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