Book sculpting

Answering my BBAW Interview Swap questions last week reminded me of another fascinating artist who’s decidedly more bookish than the artists I mentioned. His name is Brian Dettmer and he defines the genre of book sculpting. What I like best about his work is his use of old, going-obsolete books like mid-century dictionaries, encyclopedias, out-of-date textbooks and medical guidebooks and the new meanings formed by the remaining text and images. Dettmer started out in 2003 doing closed, internal book sculptures retaining the original shape and spine of the book like this:

Aren’t the muted colors and intersecting lines of text in this piece beautiful? Dettmer’s works have became more complex over the years as he’s experimented with multiple books in the same piece and increasingly intricate carvings:

In the last few years Dettmer’s sculptures have become more epic, with several books – bent, rolled, folded, you name it – fused together in one piece.

The latest piece he exhibited this summer is made entirely of vintage encyclopedias and is called Totem:

Yes, the outer white stuff is encyclopedia pages. Don’t ask me how he made these page masses look so fluffy yet architectural at the same time.

I think Dettmer explains his own work exceptionally well:

“Old books, records, tapes, maps, and other media frequently fall into a realm that too much of today’s art occupies. Their intended role has decreased or deceased and they often exist simply as symbols of the ideas they represent rather than true conveyers of content. … When an object’s intended function is fleeting, the necessity for a new approach to its form and content arises.”

So what do you think of Brian Dettmer? And what do you think of me spotlighting book art from time to time? Now I just have to come up with a catchy post name.

9 thoughts on “Book sculpting

  1. Chachic

    These are so beautiful! I’d love to have some of his work if I could afford them. As it is, I have to be content with just looking. I think it would be great if you spotlight book-related artwork from time to time. :) It can be similar to Chelle of Tempting Persephone’s I ♥ This Art feature.

  2. Holly

    Chachic, that’s true. I thought of her feature, too. Could be similar.

    Michelle, you’re welcome. I know, really, the creativity out there is astounding.


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