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Artists' Books Collection (ABC) at NYPL: Collection Highlights

Welcome! This guide will provide an overview about how to find Artists' Books in the Wallach Division of Art, Prints & Photographs

Artists' Books Collection Highlights

The following are some highlights from within the Artists' Books Collection that may be requested within the Prints and Photographs Study Room (308).

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Mother by Sophie Calle. MEMZ (Calle) 18-1595. Photographed by Christian Erroi.

Sophie Calle’s Rachel Monique, an elegy to the artist’s mother published in 2017, ten years after her death. The first sentence of the book is embroidered on the cover. Her mother’s story is co-authored by her posthumously, through diary excerpts and the family photographs she had given to Calle. The book honors not only the memory of her mother and their complicated relationship, but in the years after her death searches for her in the images and texts that remain. The book follows her through her husbands, lovers, and one-night stands. She loved drinking, smoking, and Marilyn Monroe.

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Walls Paper by Gordon Matta-Clark. MEMZ (Matta-Clark) 18-1629. Photographed by Christian Erroi.

Gordon Matta-Clark presented his large-scale installation, Walls paper, only once during his lifetime, in 1972 on the wall of the artist-run space 112 Greene Street in New York. It consisted of the black and white photos he took that year of semi-demolished houses in the Bronx and the Lower East Side. The photographs reveal the interiors of wall-papered walls and of painted walls flaking away. He re-colored the photos and heightened their color to further abstract the image, then printed them on newsprint to become its own delicate wallpaper. A year later, he created a book-form version of this installation. Walls paper is one of the first works in which Matta-Clark’s self-taught interests in photography came together with his focus on “anarchitecture”-- that is, leftover spaces in the built environment-- and his desire to create community as a social artistic practice.

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Some Disordered Interior Geometries by Francesca Woodman. Spencer Coll. Amer. 1981 82-417. Photographed by Christian Erroi.

Francesca Woodman’s “Some Disordered Interior Geometries” published in 1981, is the only artist book published during her lifetime. The book is styled after an antique Italian geometry exercise notebook, containing 16 black and white photographs, handwritten pencil annotations and whiteout painted over mathematical formulae. 500 copies were distributed during her funeral. The images in the book are familiar with her other photographs, showing semi-obscured self-portraits posed in various contortions, in interiors to play with idiosyncratic architectural elements.

Search the Catalog

To explore the online catalog (catalog.nypl.org):

  • If you know the name of an artist that created a book, you can conduct a “Subject” or an “Author” search using their: LastName, FirstName
  • If the title of the book is known, you can search it by Title