Book Carvings

Brian Dettmer is an artist who carves and cuts books into gorgeous and interesting sculptures. His focus is on the texture, the text and the images within books. During a TED Youth conference in 2014 he spoke about his work and his process (which you can watch in it's entirety here).

About his process he had this to say:

"In most of my work, what I do is I seal the edges of a book with a thick varnish so it's creating sort of a skin on the outside of the book so it becomes a solid material, but then the pages inside are still loose, and then I carve into the surface of the book, and I'm not moving or adding anything.I'm just carving around whatever I find interesting. So everything you see within the finished piece is exactly where it was in the book before I began."


Of his work he said, "I think of my work as sort of a remix, in a way, because I'm working with somebody else's material."

He uses clamps, ropes and weights to hold things in place before he varnishes so he can push the form before he starts his carving.

About the somewhat controversial use of books as a material that he is cutting and carving into he had thus to say:

"So I think one of the reasons people are disturbed by destroying books, people don't want to rip booksand nobody really wants to throw away a book, is that we think about books as living things, we think about them as a body, and they're created to relate to our body, as far as scale, but they also have the potential to continue to grow and to continue to become new things. So books really are alive. So I think of the book as a body, and I think of the book as a technology. I think of the book as a tool. And I also think of the book as a machine. I also think of the book as a landscape."

Dettmer’s sculptures can be found in the permanent collection of several notable institutions including: the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, IL; The High Museum, GA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, GA; and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT.

The PPOW gallery in New York will will be representing Dettmer. His first exhibition at P·P·O·W will be in 2016.