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


  • Zoltán Somhegyi




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


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


Author Biography

Zoltán Somhegyi


College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah
United Arab Emirates

Zoltán Somhegyi is a Hungarian art historian, holding a Ph.D. in aesthetics, based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and working as an Assistant Professor at the College of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Sharjah. As a researcher of art history and aesthetics, he specializes in 18th-19th-century art and art theory, with additional interest in contemporary fine arts and art criticism. He curated exhibitions in six countries, participated in international art projects and often lectures in academic conferences. He is Secretary-General and Website Editor of the International Association for Aesthetics, a member of the Executive Committee of The International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences and Consultant of Art Market Budapest – International Contemporary Art Fair. He is an author of books, academic papers, artist catalogs and more than two hundred articles, essays, critiques and art fair reviews.


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Somhegyi, Zoltán. “Art (out) of separation. Aesthetics around the wall.” Serbian Architectural Journal 6, 1 (2014): 17–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5937/SAJ1401017S

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.

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




How to Cite

Somhegyi, Z. (2019). Empty Pages and Full Stops: On the Aesthetic Relation between Books and Art. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (19), 69–75. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i19.306