Want to see a picture of a Message in a Bottle author who has so many books on his mind he can’t decide what to write about?
Poor chap obviously needs a vacation, because he’s too wrapped up in his work. If only it had occurred to him to focus on what was right in front of him, the beauty of the actual book in his hand. Fortunately, many artists aren’t as oblivious as this guy, and they’re producing some amazing book-related work.
Photographer Thomas Allen takes pulp paperbacks and turns them into dynamic three-dimensional action scenes like this one:
Much of his work is collected in Uncovered, and even more self-referentially, many of his images have been repurposed as covers for other books, including fiction by James Ellroy and Jasper Fforde.
Another photographer, Abelardo Morell, also dwells on the physical nature of books in his pictures, but tends to emphasize their statelier qualities:
His A Book of Books is stunningly beautiful and even moving, almost a meditation on time itself. The aging volumes he prefers to feature seem both permanent and ephemeral.
Brian Dettmer is a sculptor who clearly has a great love for the medium of books, but he’s not afraid to open them up to see what makes them tick. His delicate but thorough excavations have been referred to as “book autopsies.”
There’s no compendium of his remarkable work, but some of it appears in Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book.
Perhaps the most spectacular book-related art of recent years was created anonymously. Around a year ago, Scottish librarians at various institutions began to discover intricate gifts left hidden in the stacks. The first was this lovely “poetree.”
Eventually, ten pieces were uncovered, each unique and all in their own way a tribute to libraries and literacy. The full story, along with pictures of these treasures, is here. Some have claimed to know (or to be) the person behind the project, but the artist has not yet been publicly identified. So much better that way.