A Celebration of the Book
by Julius Friedman
Featuring 130 stunning images of book sculptures
Is it possible to love books so much that you can
destroy them in the name of art?
Foreword by Pico Iyer
Essay by Jill Gage, The Newberry Library
Essay by Dianne Aprile
Burning or destroying books has traditionally been seen as a brutal, almost inhumane,
act. Is it possible that instead, book destruction can be turned into beautiful and inspiring
works of art? That’s the premise behind a new book from distinguished designer and
photographer, Julius Friedman. Titled simply, The Book, Friedman’s latest project is a
fascinating art book made possible by the sacrifice of several other beautiful books for the
“The Book project was inspired by Gail Gilbert, the art librarian at the University of
Louisville Library, when she gave me a bag of books she was discarding,” Friedman noted.
“She thought I could tear them up and make collages or an art project. I told her I was
not a collage artist and, being a book designer, I could not tear them up. After months of
them sitting in my basement and Gail saying, ‘Do something with them,’ I made my first
deconstruction and collage,” he added.
Those first collages grew into a body of work, and later, a limited edition of 20 books, all
hand-sewn and hand-bound, using hand-set type, letterpress, and tipped-in photographs—and a box made of cherry wood to house each copy. The “run” sold out immediately. “After that project, I continued to make collages and decided to do a coffee table book that people from all walks of life could afford, enjoy, and experience,” the artist added.
The result is stunning. In 130 beautiful photographs, Friedman gives his torn-apart and twisted books fascinating shapes and structures, some lit from within or without, ranging from the abstract to the concrete, and from the visceral to the intellectual. “I looked at the book
from its beginnings to the current and emerging world of the Kindle and other electronic tablets, intuitively keeping in mind the sacred word, censorship, holding an object, its tactile way, even the smell of a book,” he stated.
The Book will be loved, ironically, by book lovers who will recognize how the artist has harnessed the tactile power of books and transformed them into new and moving forms for his art. As Pico Iyer states in the foreword, “Look at this book, and you’ll never look at a book in the same way again.”
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