The history of art books and the origins of these are still debated today, but one of the forerunners is William Blake, who published a number of contemporary art books during the late 1700s through to the early 1800s. William Blake was a British painter, poet and printer who created his first art book through a desire to put his written work together with his artistry. To this end, Blake developed his own printing techniques that enabled the printing of the written word and art together.


In France during the 1890s, Ambroise Vollard, who was a Parisian art dealer, created the livre d’artiste, which literally translates to ‘artist’s book’. Vollard created this art book in order to capitalize on the new emerging art market in France, as the rich middle-class demographic increased. The art books were comprised of classical text and prints of original art, bound together with fine binding.


During the early 1900s, printing techniques became cheaper through their method of creation and through the introduction of cheaper materials. Through the first two decades, typography was introduced as innovative, giving even more character to art books. In the 1920s, many artists’ books were printed in Germany, relying on photographs more and more.

In Europe preceding WWII, and in America during the 1960s, contemporary artist books began to emerge in larger numbers through the improvements of technologies such as offset printing and photocopy.


From then and up to today, artists’ books continue to be published on a regular basis and still hold popularity through print, and more recently, in digital forms, such as in the eBook. The website is dedicated to reviewing the great classics, along with the newest art books that have been published in the twenty-first century.