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What are artists' books?

An artist's book by Mark Dahle

If you purchase a beautiful Mark Dahle Portfolio without realizing beforehand that it is an artist's book, you may be in for an initial surprise.

It looks like a children's book, but the words and the art don’t match. It’s like you’re reading two or three different books at the same time.

Artists' books often defy people's expectations of how things should look or how they should work.

Artists' books cause you to think and ponder things you have taken for granted, like how a book works, or how life works.

As Mark Dahle says, "If you want everything to be straightforward in your life, you probably don’t need an artist’s book. You might not want children or artists either."

An artist's book is not just a book that has been illustrated by an artist. An artist's book goes beyond this. In some way, the book itself is the art, or a portion of it.

Sometimes the book is cut, folded or transformed into sculpture. Sometimes, as in the case of Mark Dahle Portfolios, conventions of the book are changed so something new emerges. But in some way, the book itself is involved in the artist's vision of something new.

For more information, you might look at:

The Century of Artists' Books by Johanna Drucker

1000 Artists' Books: Exploring the Book as Art by Peter and Donna Thomas

The Book As Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts by Krystyna Wasserman

A Century of Artists Books by Paul Gauguin

Artists' Books: A Critical Survey Of The Literature by Stefan Klima

Artists' Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000: The Reva and David Logan Collection by Robert Flynn Johnson


About Mark Dahle Portfolios

Mark Dahle Portfolios can be read in a few minutes and then enjoyed for a lifetime. Thought-provoking and beautiful, they feature an unusual combination of compelling photographs, brilliant paintings and deceptively simple text.

The short, 50-page books are created for art collectors who don't mind feeling initially disoriented as they look at art.

Because of the enjoyable stories, Mark Dahle Portfolios have a diverse base of fans, including grandparents and parents who want to encourage reading, kids of all ages who like the stories, as well as art collectors and people who value industrial and urban settings.

Unlike most picture books, the text is not related to the art next to it, creating the feeling that one is reading two different books at the same time, and that they keep interrupting each other.

The portfolios encourage adults to order more books until they get used to the unusual layout.

Anyone deciding to take this advice has plenty of portfolios to choose from; more than 50 portfolios have been released to date in a wide variety of styles and genres.

(To see examples, see our complete list of all the Mark Dahle Portfolios available.)

When you look at a Mark Dahle Portfolio, you will find it is dated for art collectors, providing bragging rights for early investors.

Of special interest to art collectors
and to collectors of Artists' Books

Art collectors will be interested in the Special Edition of each Mark Dahle Portfolio.

Each Special Edition is a large-size version of the portfolio, printed by the artist. At 13 x 19 inches, Special Edition Mark Dahle Portfolios make a beautiful statement on a coffee table, display stand or large bookshelf. These Portfolios provide a way for collectors to display additional art even if their walls are already full.

You can find more information here: Special Edition Portfolios for Art Collectors


Portfolios for children and adults

Portfolios for older kids and adults

Catalogs for Art Collectors

Or see our complete list of all Mark Dahle Portfolios.



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