Variations on a Theme: Artists’ Books at RAM

Racine Art Museum

Oct. 11, 2023 - Jan. 13, 2024

441 Main St.
Racine, 53403
PHONE 262.636.9177

As part of RAM’s Twentieth Anniversary celebrations in 2023 and acknowledging a specialty focus of the institution, this exhibition surveys artists’ books from the collection.

Artists’ books—a category of making in its own right—can encompass aspects of printmaking, papermaking, illustration, design, and more. An artist can directly produce the book or work with a team that implements an idea—or a combination of both. Artists’ books as a whole consider the idea of the book, as well as its physical format, as a starting point for aesthetic and conceptual investigations. Designs can vary widely and include pieces that question the framework, use, or definition of a book; that include multiple components; or that are not functional in any traditional sense of the word.

RAM has over 550 artists’ books in its holdings—a collection that may be one of the largest of its kind in a Midwestern art museum. By their nature, artists’ books bridge the focal points of the museum’s collection: craft and graphics. Books, while printed in one form or another and editioned, are also three-dimensional objects that show evidence of the artists’ hand—effectively closing the gap between prints and three-dimensional craft. In addition, many traditional craft techniques like papermaking and binding are used to create these pieces, relating these graphic works to bookmaking traditions.

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