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The Intricate Book Sculptures Of New York-Based Artist Brian Dettmer
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The Intricate Book Sculptures Of New York-Based Artist Brian Dettmer

Picture of Sophia Francis
Updated: 12 December 2015
An inventive mix of written word, historical literary works and artistic flair, American contemporary artist Brian Dettmer’s work is clever and unique in multiple ways. We take a look at his intriguing works and explore his artistic process.

New York City-based contemporary artist Brian Dettmer creates extraordinary works that combine the pages of old books with impeccable artistic detail and skill that will leave onlookers awestruck. Using a knife to cut into the pages, which are typically sealed with a thick, goopy varnish on the edges, Dettmer creates brilliant new works that are remarkably intricate.

Thinking of his work figuratively, Dettmer uses the word ‘remix’ to describe the vision behind his artistic process; if one re-imagines these books as a musical score, Dettmer is something of a DJ who re-fashions the music, creating new and spectacular works inspired by their original form. Dettmer applies this metaphor to the way we understand literature in the contemporary age – his work is symbolic of the way books are now combined with modern technology.

In the same way that written word is now consumed via new technologies such as the Kindle, Dettmer re-appropriates old literary works to create something new and relevant in today’s day and age. His artistic process requires an adroit hand, an impeccable eye for detail and a sure spark of creativity, all of which the artist has in abundance.

Dettmer experiments with books of varying sizes and thickness, from short pieces to entire dictionaries. Clamps, ropes, weights and large tables are used to secure the books in the sculpting process to make way for his expertly-crafted literary landscapes. Each piece is sculpted into the book itself, drawing the eye in yet also appearing to protrude off the edges. The viewer, then, has the ability to complete the structures through personal interpretations.

Brian Dettmer has exhibited at institutions such as the Yale University Art Gallery in Connecticut, The Center For Book Arts in NYC and Cascais Cultural Centre in Portugal. For more information about his past, current and upcoming exhibitions, be sure to visit his website.