Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Book Autopsies

Lori Thornton - Please Avert Your Eyes!

One of my favorite magazines, Somerset Studio, ran an article on Brian Dettmer in its July/August 2008 edition. Brian is an artist who carves books, such as the one pictured above, into what are called intricately-detailed altered book sculptures.

Those of us who love to read, love books. Slicing and dicing them seems like sacrilege. Yes, I had a really difficult time with this art form, but it is so beautiful.

Dettmer seals, then cuts into old dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, science and engineering books, art books, medical guides, history books, atlases, comic books, and wallpaper sample books. With surgical tools, tweezers and steady hands, Dettmer approaches old books like a surgeon, meticulously slicing and cutting around illustrations and words inside the book’s body, removing parts of thin paper skin until what’s left looks like the book’s skeleton.

Recently, Dettmer has expanded his artistic process with folding, bending, or rolling one or more books before sealing and cutting them.


Brian had a twinge of guilt in the beginning, when he cut into a book, for the same reasons I think we all would. He says we feel guilty because we equate the physical book with the information contained inside it and that libraries and bookstores routinely discard large numbers of books. He uses those books to create this amazing art form.

Could I cut into a book? I don't know, but I'd love a book Brian's cut into.

You can see more of Brian's sculpture at:

Kinz, Tillou + Feigen

Packer Schopf Gallery

Toomey Tourell



Blogger Chery Kinnick said...

What a beautiful and unique art form! But, as longtime library staff, I shudder to think of an old and precious book being cut into. Still, there are many more that suffer worse fates through weather, neglect, wear and tear, mold, and the garbage heap. So, yes... for those of us who hold the thought of books in much the same way as a dear friend, it is with morbid fascination that I can appreciate this interesting art form. Although, I do hope the artist is checking on the availability vs. the rarity of his subjects before taking up the scalpel!

September 11, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

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