Words of Wonder: Books Carved into Cities, People and More

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Book carving is an art form that seeks to make the physical matter that books are printed on into a work of art in itself. Artists find books, often damaged texts, and physically cut into them, shaping them into a new form entirely. Whether it’s cities, animals, or even depictions of the human body, these artists are able to look beyond the book and see a world within. It’s as Michelangelo said of his famous David, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” These transformations are something to behold as you can see below.

Canadian sculpture artist Maskull Lasserre creates objects d’ arte from a variety of everyday products and objects, including tools and books. Lasserre’s style resembles dissection. His skulls and vivisections makes you almost forget you’re looking at the remains of a book. In this example, Lasserre combines his passion for metal brackets with his love of books.

For book artist Guy Laramee, a book is an opportunity to craft a romantic landscape. In this example, a city rises from inside the hard covers of several volumes. The world resembles something out of Tolkien’s works or maybe a fairy tale, with lush green surroundings.

Jessica Drenk creates art from all kinds of mass-produced objects, from toilet paper to magazines to PVC pipe. Drenk truly transforms her books into something otherworldly. She celebrates texture, pattern, and color, in a way that makes something old seem new when she creates each piece.

Alexander Korzer Robinson recognizes of the enormous potential for beautiful art that lurks between the covers of old encyclopedias. In the age of online reference books, many institutions and people are discarding the heavy old encyclopedias, but in Robinson’s hands, they are telling new stories. In this image, knights, rams, and famous people peer out from the book. His 3-D carved books are something to behold. 

This accordian-shaped scultpure was created by the Book Surgeon, a dedicated book carver who employs scalpels, tweezers and other sharp objects to create complex patterns. The Book Surgeon is the alter ego of Brian Dettmer, a New York artist who uses maps, dictionaries, fiction and any other book he can get his hands on to create magnificent art.

We’ve all heard of a house of cards, but how about a house of books? Dutch artist Frank Halmans draws inspriation from Dutch row houses. He uses old books to create cities and their buildings. Halmans uses only old textbooks or other tomes that someone intends to discard. His scultptures make unexpected focal points for any bookshelf, and a creation that seems to tell a new story.

New York artist Robert The provacatively turns Bibles and other books into book “guns.” In this series, he explains that he likes the idea of turning discarded objects into weapons seeking revenge. He chooses the titles he makes into guns carefully, juxtaposing the title used with the final creation. His work has been collected in renowned museums including the MOMA and Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.


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