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Heritage collection of artists' books and bibliophile books

Description of the collection

Livre d'artiste A Knight move.

Pascaline Knight, A knight move, ou, L’émergence
de la chrysalide,
Montréal, Pascaline J.K., 2011.
BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie
(RES CA 738 Ex. 2).

BAnQ’s heritage collection of artists’ books and bibliophile books houses over 3,400 titles, for the most part published in Québec or Québec-related. Though the collection covers the 20th and 21st centuries, publications produced after 1970 are markedly more abundant. The collection was primarily put together when legal deposit was introduced in 1968, but also expanded through purchase and donation. The result, which makes up BAnQ’s current collection of artists' books and bibliophile books, bears witness to the myriad of approaches associated with this form of expression.

Artists’ books are works of art and like painting or sculpture, they represent one of the many forms of expression used by artists. As works of art, they do however remain connected to books through form, content or function.

Artists’ books are created through a wide variety of production techniques and are usually available in limited runs, even at times in single copies. Some artists voluntarily steer clear of bibliophile books, opting instead for large print runs. While many of these Québec works are self-published, publishing houses have become very much involved in this field. The use of refined materials and technical virtuosity are some of the ways artists’ books celebrate reading. Others resort to unsettling content, unusual handling of the book as object, and even deliberate illegibility to deliver thought-provoking statements. In any case, artists provide grounds for an intimate dialogue with the reader. This definition also applies to “book objects” that are close to artists’ books. In book objects, artists pay tribute to, parody, question or destroy the standard look of a book to reinterpret its role or even misuse it.

Bibliophile books include illustrated books of original works and deluxe editions from Québec and abroad. These works are preserved because of the quality of their design and manufacture: use of handmade paper, remarkable illustrations, elaborate bindings, rare or very limited editions and so forth.

Livre d'artiste Noyade.

Gilles Hénault, Noyade : poème, Montréal, Éditions de l’Atelier, 1986.
BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie
(RES CC 162 Ex. 2).

This collection also holds print albums, which are series of prints produced by an artist or the result of collective projects. Presented in boxes or portfolios, they are often paired with writings from an author, a poet or a scholar, with respect to the spirit of the works it neighbours.

BAnQ keeps its art binding collection separately.

Top Search tools and publications

Artists' books and bibliophile books are described in the online catalogue.

The reference collection at your disposal in BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie’s reading room includes several essential works on Québec artists’ books and bibliophile books:

Sylvie Alix, Graphzines et autres publications d’artistes, Montréal, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, 2007, n. p.

Sylvie Alix, « L’histoire du livre d’artiste au Québec », in Jo Nordley Beglo (dir.), Essais sur l’histoire de la bibliothéconomie d’art au Canada, Ottawa, Arlis Canada, 2006, p. 34.

Sylvie Alix, Répertoire des livres d’artistes au Québec 1991-1992, Montréal, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, 1993, vol. 3, 79 p.

Sylvie Alix, Répertoire des livres d’artistes au Québec 1993-1997, Montréal, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, 1999, vol. 4, 218 p.

Silvie Bernier, « À la croisée des champs artistique et littéraire : le livre d’artiste au Québec, 1900-1980 », Voix et images, vol. 11, no 3, 1986, p. 528-536.

Silvie Bernier, Du texte à l’image – Le livre illustré au Québec, Sainte-Foy, Presses de l’Université Laval, 1990, 335 p.

Stéphanie Bernier, Sophie Drouin and Josée Vincent (dir.), Le livre comme art – Matérialité et sens, Québec, Éditions Nota Bene, 2013, 212 p.

Danielle Blouin, Un livre délinquant – Les livres d’artistes comme expériences limites, Saint-Laurent, Fides, 2001, n. p.

Claudette Hould, Répertoire des livres d’artistes au Québec 1900-1980, Montréal, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, 1982, vol. 1, n. p.

Claudette Hould, Répertoire des livres d’artistes au Québec 1981-1990, Montréal, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, 1993, vol. 2, 346 p.

BAnQ keeps over 1000 artists’ files related to its collections, and more than 150 files about cultural institutions. A majority of the artists’ files are listed in the Artists in Canada database. All the files can be viewed upon request in BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie’s reading room.

TopAn exploration of the collection

Livre d'artiste Midi perdu.

Roland Giguère, Midi perdu,
Montréal, Éditions Erta, [1951?].
BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie
(RES CC 175 2).

Workshops whose content is drawn from the heritage collection of artists’ books can be organized upon request.

For a self-directed exploration of sets of artists' books revolving around different themes, head to the reading room of BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. No appointment necessary. These sets represent a great starting point for an introduction to artists' books or to explore new research avenues.

Artists' books and photography

Dialogue between poetry and print

The art of lettering

Inventories and collections

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The collection of artists' books and bibliophile books can be studied in the reading room of BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-PatrieThis room is open to the public, on reservation, Tuesday through Friday, from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Telephone: 514 873-1100, ext. 3823, or 1 800 363-9028 (in Québec)
Fax: 514 873-7168