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The book as an art form.

It is important that students be exposed to different forms of book construction to increase their awareness and conception of books. This unit is designed to promote students' experience with and appreciation of books as art forms. The consideration of texts, the problems of design and content will be discussed on different levels. This unit can be adapted to various art classes and different disciplines.



* To introduce students to the concept of the book as an art form with design and content problems similar to other art forms.

* To introduce the book as an art form by itself and/or one that can be combined with other media.

* To develop students' skills in the handling of the materials and tools necessary in creating a book.

* To increase students' awareness and appreciation of the beauty and variations in the book format.

* To provide experiences that bring students in contact with old and new materials used in unfamiliar ways.

* To expand students' concepts of how images can be used singly and in relationship to other images and materials.

Instructional Concepts

* Awareness of other forms of artistic creation and expression are important for students.

* Art students should become aware of the great variety in the book format. Creative thinking can also extend to the combination of text and images. A variety of assignments and materials will allow students to explore new materials and thought processes.

* It is important that artists build all artistic repertoire in order to choose among a range of ideas, concepts and solutions.

* It is important to help develop critical reflection and analysis in deciding what is art, what are art forms, and how art has been looked at historically.

Integrative Aspects

Field trips can be taken to public libraries to look at rare book collections. School librarians can discuss various aspects of book design with students. The unit can be tied in with other aspects of the school or with other disciplines.

Evaluation Criteria

* Does the student show an awareness of the book as an art form? Has the student designed a book which shows good use of linear and or temporal design?

* Has the student created a book which is interesting and shows evidence of thinking, planning and creativity?

* Has the student integrated different images in the book? Was the student able to construct a book that is neat, uses the materials well, and is aesthetically pleasing?

Possible Components of the Unit

1. Simple binder format in which every student contributes one image.

2. Simple book construction such as accordion, Japanese or scrap book.

3. A book which involves using other media and materials such as found objects, photographs and drawings.

4. A book which is a new exploration of the book format: odd shapes, 3-D or one that combines two or more ideas.


Lyons, Joan, ed. Artists' Books, A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook. Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1987.

Johnson, Pauline. Creative Bookbinding. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1963.

Shanon, Faith. Paper Pleasures: The Creative Guide to Papercraft. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987.

Smith, Keith A. Structure of the Visual Book. Rochester, New York: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1984.

Jack O. Summers teaches art and photography at Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.
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Author:Summers, Jack O.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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