An approach to the foundations of an artistic genre
Since the 1960s, artists’ books have become an essential form of contemporary art. In this context, artists have also used their exhibition catalogs as forms of artistic expression. Within this framework of creative practices, this article delves into the characteristics that could lead to the definition of artists’ catalogs as a specific artistic genre. The concepts of artists’ books and exhibition catalogs are compared to discuss the ambiguities and blurred lines that make a precise delimitation difficult. The combination of both typologies is analyzed through a series of works by artists in the field of catalogs as works of art. Despite the great variability that emerges from the different perspectives through which artists’ catalogs have been conceived and produced, some common features come to light. These common features, as well as an examination of the functions and uses associated with artists’ catalogs, pave the way for answering the crucial questions as to whether these publications—as the works of art they are—are still catalogs and if they might even be considered as a differentiated genre of artists’ books.