Empty Pages and Full Stops: On the Aesthetic Relation between Books and Art

Zoltán Somhegyi


Books and artworks have a long common history. Written texts, as well as the joy of reading and the act of writing them, appeared in pieces of art from early Antiquity onwards, well before the current form of the book itself was invented. Apart from indicating readers and writers, the book had also become a basic symbol of culture, education, or the attribute of saints. On the other hand, there are many artists who create special books, i.e. special one-copy and one-edition volumes, not only containing the artist’s drawings or paintings but the whole assemblage of the book (and often even the paper itself) is the creator’s own work. From the Early Modern Age and especially from Romanticism onwards, the sketchbook of the artist grew rapidly in its importance. In this paper, however, I would like to survey another aspect: when the book, and especially its material property or physicality, serves as the basis of the creation of a novel artwork. In other words, I focus on pieces of art where the book is not simply a depicted motif or an attribute and it is not even a newly-created book-art object. Hence my current examination aims to analyze the phenomenon of the book, as how its materiality and referential ability may inspire the artist to further develop considerations on cultural, social and political issues. Works by Sophia Pompéry, Ákos Czigány, the art collective Slavs and Tatars, Jorge Méndez Blake and Carla Filipe are analyzed.

Article received: April 15, 2019; Article accepted: June 23, 2019; Published online: September 15, 2019; Review Article

How to cite this article: Somhegyi, Zoltán. "Empty Pages and Full Stops: On the Aesthetic Relation between Books and Art." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 19 (2019): 69-75. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i19.306


artworks; books; sketchbooks; Sophia Pompéry; Ákos Czigány; Slavs and Tatars; Jorge Méndez Blake; Carla Filipe

Full Text:



Camplin, Jamie and Maria Ranuro, Books Do Furnish a Painting. London: Thames & Hudson, 2018.

Erdemci, Fulya. Mom, am I barbarian? 13th Istanbul Biennial Book. Istanbul: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, 2014.

https://www.slavsandtatars.com/cycles/regions-d-etre/kitab-kebab. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Nepi Scirè, Giovanna. Le Carnet de Canaletto. Paris: Canal Éditions, 1997.

Roth, Tobias. “Und Punkt. Gesammelte Schlusspunkte von Sophia Pompéry.” Signaturen. Forum für Autonome Poesie, December 26, 2013. http://www.signaturen-magazin.de/und-punkt.html. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Somhegyi, Zoltán. “Art (out) of separation. Aesthetics around the wall.” Serbian Architectural Journal 6, 1 (2014): 17–28.

Somhegyi, Zoltán. “Barbarians instead? Fragile dichotomy at the 13th Istanbul Biennial 2013.” Contemporary Practices. Visual Arts from the Middle East 14, 1 (2014): 14–21.

Trigg, David. Reading Art. Art for Book Lovers. London, New York: Phaidon, 2018.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i19.306


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 AM Journal of Art and Media Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774

Contact: amjournal@outlook.com

Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Indexed in: ERIH PLUSEBSCODOAJ, and in The List of Scientific Journals Categorization of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (M24-2021). Beginning with No. 12 2017, AM is indexed, abstracted and covered in Clarivate Analytics service ESCI.