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ECU Library Collections: Artists' Books

Describes different collections available at ECU Library

Artists' Books

Visit our Artists' Books Collection Research Guide for documentation about the collection, weekly highlights, related activities and research resources related to Artists' Books.

The Artists' Book collection encompasses books crafted, published, produced or altered by an artist or artist collective. In addition to self-published artists' books, the collection also includes limited editions resulting from collaborations with art organizations, artists' books from both independent and mainstream press, and a growing collection of artists' audio works. We also currently collect contemporary, limited edition print publications that exemplify the international collaboration occurring between designers, typographers, visual artists, poets, writers + curators and publishers. The collection is international in scope with an emphasis on the 1960s to present.

Artists' books can be requested for viewing in the library by artist book number at the Reference Desk.

To make special arrangements for class presentations, research projects or exhibitions please contact the library at library@ecuad.ca

The focus of the Emily Carr Artists’ Book collection corresponds closely to the definition of artists' books that was introduced with the formation of the New York based, non-profit organization, Printed Matter. Founded by Sol Lewitt and Lucy Lippard in 1976, Printed Matter developed a mandate to disseminate and produce artists' books that observed three basic tenets: “mass produced, relatively cheap, and accessible to a broad public.” The artist's and artistic methods that informed the first 20 years of Printed Matter are well represented in this unique West Coast artists' book collection. 

The Artists' book collection includes an exceptionally strong representation of works originating from the post-war, avant-garde movements of Fluxus, Conceptual and Performance art. It is the early, conceptual works of Edward Ruscha, Sol Lewitt, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner, Marcel Broodthaers, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland, along with works by Fluxus artists, Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, Robert Filliou, Yoko Ono and Dieter Roth that provide a strong foundation for this growing international collection.

The collection also represents local and national artists' publishing practices, with a particular focus on limited edition books created in conjunction with exhibitions at artist-run centres and art galleries. Works include those published with the collaboration of Artspeak, Contemporary Art Gallery, Grunt, Richmond Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Kamloops Art Gallery. The local collection includes work by Iain Baxter, Ken Lum, Rodney Graham, Kathy Slade, Isabelle Pauwels, Lorna Brown, Baco Ohamo, Antonia Hirsch, Arni Haraldsson and Sidney Hermant, many of whom are faculty, staff or alumni from Emily Carr.

Significant to the artists' audio collection are works by Jack Goldstein, Rodney Graham, Christian Marclay, Kathy Slade and Brady Cranfield.

Artists' Books are fully catalogued and searchable in the catalogue using  a subject search for "artists' books".

You can also browse the collection through thematic book lists posted on our research blog under the heading Reading Lists.

Donated by Ian Wallace, a Vancouver-based, internationally renowned painter, photographer and art historian, the gift builds upon the collections’ thematic strength in the postwar, avant-garde practices of Conceptual, Fluxus and Performance Art.

Wallace taught at Emily Carr for many years and during that time developed a personal collection of artists’ books, many dating from the 1960s to 1980s and often produced by prominent Canadian, American and international artists. Significant works include those by Lawrence Weiner, Chris Burden, Joseph Kosuth, Michael Snow, Laurie Anderson, Richard Prince, Iain Baxter, and Ken Lum. Of special interest are rare sound recordings by conceptual artist, Jack Goldstein, and also several artists’ books produced collaboratively with Art Metropole, Canada’s first artist-run-center dedicated to the production and distribution of artists’ books.

Works previously acquired by Ian Wallace in the 1980s set the original foundation for the Library’s artists’ book collection. The collection has continued to grow over the course of the following decade. Artists’ books are considered works of art in themselves. They are often unique, sometimes multiples or limited editions. The collection exemplifies a diversity of approaches to the conceptualization of the artists’ book and often challenges traditional notions of the book form.

The Library is committed to the development and preservation of this teaching collection.

Search by series title “Ian Wallace Collection,” in the catalogue to view this collection.

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