05 February 2009

Harry N Abrams Art Books

I was in the Jacksonville Public Library yesterday browsing through the art section, and came across one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen: Collage, by Herta Wescher. This oversized 1971 volume is a translation from the German of an exhaustive history of art through the prism of collage. It contains beautiful plates, but before we even consider the pictures, one is struck by the quality of the paper, the binding, and the printing. Just beautiful. The layout features wide margins in which the author places notes, references, and even small illustrations--right next to the relevant text.

I think Abrams is famous for tipped-in pictures, or perhaps was--I have an Abrams book of Van Gogh pictures that I bought more than 20 years ago; the first time I had ever seen tipped-in pictures. The reproductions are of a really gorgeous quality, and even the black and white plates (which are bound in) look stunning.

After browsing through the Collage book for a while, I found an Abrams book on expressionism and a similar book called Master Watercolors of the Twentieth Century. Beautiful color plates, absolutely, but rather than being tipped-in, they are slipped-in, into mats, with two extra mats provided in a pocket just inside the back cover so that you can study the pictures "at your leisure."

If anybody is still making books like this, I want to know about it.

I look forward to spending more time at the library.

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