Book art has always been change, it knows no standstill.

Do you know anyone in your circle of relatives and friends who still collects stamps today? Yes? Then you are certainly an exception. Who still writes letters today?

Those who collected stamps 60 years ago were not alone. Today, this field of collecting is increasingly threatened with extinction. People who collect stamps are in the minority.

If you look at book art, you can discover a certain parallel there. According to my non-representative observations at book fairs, the average collector is well over 50, well off and very interested in prints and letterpress in the classical sense.

If we satisfy this demand exclusively, there is a danger in the long term that, due to biological conditions, demand will change in the classical book art areas. In many respects, we cannot afford to retreat into our ivory tower and let black art flourish there.

Art, and book art in particular, has stood for change, future and progress since the beginning. "For art is a daughter of freedom" (Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller 1759 - 1805; source: Briefe über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, 1795, 2. Brief). It is not for nothing that freedom of the arts was given a high priority in the Basic Law. Why should we, the letterpress printers and book artists, curtail this vested right ourselves by exclusively celebrating press printing? Book art is multifaceted. Book art has always been a movement, a visionary.

What are we afraid of? The new media are not bad per se, what is decisive is what we do with them, how we integrate this new field of book art into our understanding of book art.

If we look at the history of book art, we see one constant and that is, as everywhere else, change. The ancients have always wondered whether the new will endure. It has endured, it has even been revolutionary. Once an idea is born, it cannot be undone. The old lasted until something new came along that was better for the time. Book art does not end with the calligrapher's pen, the woodcutter's knife or the typesetter's ship. Book art goes on and only in this way, if it changes constantly, will it endure, even with those who come after it.

In the end, it is not the definition that is decisive what a book is. What is decisive is not the writing material, what is decisive is what we make of the text, how we transform it artistically in the form of writing as well as in the size of the letters and the form of the illustration. Even a book entirely without words, without writing, can be a book. The written medium - the art medium, the storage medium - can be digital as well as clay, stone, parchment and paper, e.g. as a CD, DVD, e-book, cloud, stick or whatever else there will be, possibilities of storage that we are not even thinking of today.

The decisive factor is that we book artists succeed in addressing another person emotionally with our artistic work, across space and time, then our work was good, regardless of the medium used.

Book art is freedom!

Gerd J. Wunderer

 

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