by Mindell Dubansky. http://aboutblooks.blogspot.com/p/lectures.html, January 2016. 88 p. ill. ISBN 9781889372129 (pbk.), $45.00.
Reviewed March 2017
Ann C. Kearney, Collections Conservator, Alice Hastings Murphy Preservation Department
University Libraries, University at Albany—State University of New York, firstname.lastname@example.org
Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren't: Book Objects from the Collection of Mindell Dubansky, is a slim, lavishly illustrated and highly informative soft cover publication. It categorizes and offers historical and cultural background to the items featured in the similarly-titled 2016 Grolier Club exhibition.
Ms Dubansky is Head of the Sherman Fairchild Center for Book Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Thomas J. Watson Library. Her introduction to this volume attests to her long-held fascination with books as objects and her particular enjoyment of objects disguised as books. More significantly, though, it offers a highly personal, well-articulated testament to this collector's connection to her “blooks” in a meticulously researched context.
Following the two (the other by artist Miriam Schaer) introductions, the fourteen author-organized and intriguingly-titled chapters—Religion, Commemoration, Photography, Travel Souvenirs, Stimulating Substances, food and Candy, Grooming and Fashion, Needlework, Household Items, Writing and Books, Gags, Props, Games and Toys, Safes and Banks—draw the reader into a closer examination of the objects. Such exploration is richly rewarded with over 200 illustrations as well as well-documented text that reveals fascinating historical and cultural details.
In addition to having a logical organization and an enticing presentation, this volume has a thoughtfully realized physical design. Its slim structure, heavyweight paper cover, elegant layout, and complementary typeface selection work together to hold a reader's attention. They also underscore the ideas that the author shares throughout this publication about the thoughts, attitudes, and emotional attachments to books in many locations from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.
This is an important record of a particular collection and an informative contribution to the study of book art. It also appeals those less familiar with this genre. This catalog would, therefore, be a valuable addition to collections specializing in artists’ books as well as to those art library collections of a more general nature.