artist book: a work of art realized in the form of a book.
The definition may sound simple, but the world of artist books can be a bewildering place. From the familiar pairing of images and text, to sculptures created out of paper and complicated bindings that create a performance each time the book is opened, nearly anything can be called an artist book if there is intention and consideration. This series showcases artists from different realms of the art world exploring the structure and meaning of the book.
Evolving from illuminated manuscripts produced as early as the 800s, miniatures have long fascinated people with their intricate detail and minute scale. Difficult to produce, small illustrations require a steady hand and an innate understanding of scale as well as the medium at hand. For Evan Lorenzen, a Denver-based illustrator, these challenges have pushed him to create a series of micro-books that have become progressively smaller over time. Often no larger than a thumbnail, Lorenzen states that his, “goal has been to get as small as [he] can without the use of any magnifying instrument.” The books are produced using rudimentary materials that include paper, thread, a sewing needle, and a pen. Each book is handmade and bound before Lorenzen’s pen hits a single page, which leaves the artist no room for error and adds to the physical challenge at hand.
Despite being only a few pages in length, Lorenzen’s books tackle broad existential subjects. His titles have included: The Little Book of Big Ideas, The Mini Book of Major Events, Big Words, and Minor Differences. Bringing both humor and wit to his content, Lorenzen’s micro-books are concise, playful investigations into the human experience at a macro level:
“My whole intention in this overarching project has been to push the limits of my creativity and physical body; to go as small, precise, and inward as I can get while also telling a story in the little space that I have created.”
His deliberate pen strokes reveal that the universal human condition can actually be reduced to a few simple pages. From the everyday to the absurd, Lorenzen’s micro-books remarkably reveal much more than first meets the eye.
Elizabeth K. Harris is the Director at Louis K. Meisel Gallery. She holds an MA in Visual Arts Administration from New York University and has co-authored two books on art. She likes looking at books more than reading them.