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Book Arts: Architecture

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

Architectural Themes in the Book Arts

The Book Arts and Architecture have more in common than one might think at first.  Both disciplines are concerned with the idea and the physicality of structure.  Both rely on centuries-old technologies, but are still vital and relevant in contemporary society.  Both involve collaborative communities and the knowledge of many to achieve the construction of the final object.  Both result in physical objects that serve practical as well as symbolic functions.  Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern’s description of Architecture could equally apply to the work of many book artists: “the art of making and preserving fixed places that are the settings for the interaction of people and ideas over time.”  [1] 

In the practice of architecture, ideas start on paper (or digitally) and manifest in a physical object big enough to be inhabited by the human form.  The book arts have parallels but on a smaller scale:  paper is often part of the creative process, although the digital is common, too, and the creation of a physical object designed for human interaction is the desired result.  In the case of a book, the object is rarely large enough for a person to physically enter.  However, the book does foster an interaction of the mind and the hand with the object.

The structure of architecture surrounds us every day, just as many of us are surrounded by books.  There are books and buildings that are of the more ordinary, everyday variety, just as there are books and architecture that are true works of art.  These works of art are the inspiration and the point of departure for this guide, which looks for the theme of architecture, both literally and liberally defined, in works of art in the book format and in the related form of works on paper.  


Associate Director for Special Collections

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Jessica Pigza
Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library