Babette Katz Creator of Artists' Books

School Arts, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Babette Katz Creator of Artists' Books


New York artist Babette Katz is a printmaker. Her prints have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States. She began creating artists' books about fifteen years ago, and has published six limited edition works of art in book form. In a recent conversation with the editor of SchoolArts, she explained the nature of her work.

SA What exactly are "artists' books?"

BK Well, an artist's book is any book made by an artist. This means that artists' books can be made in any medium. Painters make them, sculptors make them, printmakers make them, and photographers make them. All that's needed is some use of, or reference to, the book format. My books are offset printed from linoleum cuts.

SA How did you come to make artists' books?

BK An artist uses the book format when it provides the best formal solution to whatever problem the artist has posed for herself. I began creating artists' books with the intent of illustrating a thumbnail history of the world.

I had a habit of keeping a journal of thoughts or ideas that were significant to me. In the journal I recorded statements that were interesting or valuable in their content and beautiful or arresting in their means of expression. They were most often brief and concise. It was important to me to save these thoughts. This impulse was probably central to my wanting to make artist's books. I saw the books as capable of conserving and transmitting feeling, thought, and experience.

Besides, I had always loved children's books--handling them, turning pages, and being caught up in the imagined world held between the covers of a book.

If I'd been a writer, I probably would have written children's books and filled the spaces between the covers with words. Being a relief printmaker, I filled the spaces with visual stories made from linoleum cuts. They were keepsakes of ideas that were important to me.

SA How are your books different from children's book? …

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