fine press books in display case

Fine Press & Artist Books

History of the Book

Fine press, livres d’artistes, and artists’ books contribute significantly to the history of the book as art and artifact exemplified in Bridwell Library Special Collections. Functioning as far more than mere containers for subjects like history philosophy, theology, and literature, books in Special Collections are studied for their materiality, as objects that have come down to us through time and as examples of the art of making books -- as well as art in books and even books as art in themselves.

Fine Presses

Since the library’s founding, Special Collections has acquired significant works of by the premier fine presses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the Kelmscott Press, the Ashendene Press, and the Doves Press. Such presses were forerunners of later developments in the book as art, documented in the Special Collections with works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall. Significant changes in the latter 20th century are documented through extensive collections of publishers and printers such as Circle Press, Perishable Press, and the Arion Press, and individual artists such as Ian Tyson, Natalie d’Arbeloff, Tom Phillips, and Leonard Baskin.

Contemporary Artists

Current collecting seeks to build on these well-established collections with the addition of works by significant contemporary artists with further goal of increasing representation of women artists and artists of color. Recent acquisitions include works by Kara Walker, Adam Pendleton, Tauba Auerbach, Karen Bleitz, Sam Winston, and On Kawara.