The term ‘painter’s book’ (or artist’s book) is a translation of the French livre de peintre and refers to texts illustrated by artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, who often arrive at interpretations of the texts by free association. Text and images are combined to form a new artwork (shelf mark ‘Painter’s books’).

Ars librorum denotes bound and printed books decorated by an artist. Here, too, it is acquisitions by Erhart Kästner that form the core of the collection. Their more typically book-like character distinguishes them from the painter’s books. This applies especially to the 20th-century hand-printed works, which are signed and published in small editions. Besides illustrated books, this section also includes works featuring outstanding typographical design (shelf mark ‘Ars libr.’).

These holdings grew considerably in 1995 when the HAB acquired a collection of 303 hand-printed works and illustrated books assembled by Jürgen Eyssen (1922–1988) primarily representing book art of the first half of the 20th century (shelf mark ‘Eyssen’).

Altogether, the collection comprises well over 4,000 works by a range of well-known European and American painters and sculptors such as Arp, Beckmann, Bonnard, Braque, Chagall, Dalí, Derain, Dine, Dubuffet, Ernst, Hockney, Johns, Maillol, Miró, Matisse, Motherwell, Laurens, Léger, Picasso, Rauschenberg, Tàpies and Wols.


 

Artists’ Book Prize

The Artists’ Book Prize has been awarded by the Herzog August Bibliothek and the Curt Mast Jägermeister Foundation since 2018. It is dedicated to the art historian Dr Sabine Solf, who was responsible for establishing the library’s collection of artist’s books and showed great commitment in supporting its grant programme over many years.

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A changing selection of painter’s books is permanently on display in the painter’s book gallery of the Bibliotheca Augusta.

Listing: Search in the online public access catalogue (OPAC) using the keyword ‘artist’s book’ (preferably in combination with the name of the artist or author or under the shelf marks ‘painter’s books’ or ‘Ars libr.?’ or ‘Eyssen?’).

A printed catalogue exists of the artist’s books covering the period from c.1800 to 2003: Das Malerbuch des 20. Jahrhunderts: Die Künstlerbuchsammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, revised by Werner Arnold, Wolfenbütteler Schriften zur Geschichte des Buchwesens 37 (Wiesbaden, 2004).

Please note:

For conservation reasons the use of painter’s books is restricted. Painter’s books can only be viewed in the reading room of the Bibliotheca Augusta. Please inform the manuscripts department of the Herzog August Bibliothek in writing, and well in advance, of painter’s books you would like to use, giving the name of the artist, the author, the title and the shelf mark. An appointment will be arranged. Please also state your research interests and give a brief outline of your research inquiry (e-mail: ed.ba1713432367h@tfn1713432367uksua1713432367). For telephone enquiries, please call +49 (0)5331/808-114.

 

Literature

  • Haenlein, Carl, ed. Das Buch des Künstlers: Die schönsten Malerbücher aus der Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel ausgestellt in Buchhäusern von Walter Pichler. With commentaries by Harriett Watts. Hanover, 1989.
  • Lehmann, Hans-Ulrich, and Sabine Solf. Kunstwirklichkeiten: Erhart Kästner. Bibliothekar, Schriftsteller, Sammler. Wolfenbütteler Schriften zur Geschichte des Buchwesens 21. Wiesbaden, 1994.
  • Solf, Sabine. Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel: Die Sammlung Eyssen. Patrimonia 118. Wolfenbüttel, 1997.
  • Watts, Harriett, and Stefan Soltek, Der Künstler als offenes Buch / The Artist as an Open Book – Tériade: Livres d’artiste aus dem Malerbuchkabinett der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. Frankfurt am Main, 2001.