Artists' Books

An artists' book is a limited edition artwork that is produced by an artist or  collective and that has aspects of handmade work in it. They are signed by the artist(s) who have worked on them as well as by the writer of the text if this is relevant. These artworks are often made using an unconventional format and unusual binding. They can incorporate hand printed lithographs, etchings or lino cut prints and sometimes pencil drawings or painted elements.

Artists' books allow artists to combine aspects of their art making with text in novel and exciting ways. The edition number is usually fairly small (100 books or less) and this makes them rare and collectable. The "can do" attitude of South Africans has extended to these works of art and has resulted in some original approaches to the concept of a book. Books produced by The Artists' Press have received international acclaim and can be found in some of the world's leading libraries and art collections.

One of the largest and most important international collections of artists' books is that of the Johannesburg art patron, Jack Ginsburg, who is also the founder and Director of the Ampersand Foundation. In 2019 the Jack Ginsberg Centre for the Book Arts was opened and is housed in a custom designed section of WAM (the Wits Arts Museum, Witwatersrand University). All of the books published by The Artists' Press are in this collection.

The following works published by The Artists' Press are sold out: GIF 1, GIF 2, GIF 3 and Belinda Blignaut's "Antibody". GIF is the Afrikaans word for poison and is fig spelt backwards. FIG is an acronym for Famous International Gallery, which was an alternative gallery space in crumbling central Johannesburg in the early 1990s. The GIF books are an ongoing series done with a chance selection of artists.

Below are links to the artists' books that are currently available from The Artists' Press:

GIF 4 (Various artists)

Qauqaua  (Coex'ae Qgam, Kuru Art Project)

Joanne of Ark (Flip Hattingh)

The Ultimate Safari (Nadine Gordimer, various artists)

For orders (with free shipping) or any other enquiries, please contact us.

To take a look at the archive of books produced by The Artists' Press please follow the links below (these books are not available from us as they are either sold out or were published by the artist or gallery involved).

Another Day in Paradise (Various artists)

The Human Race (Robert Hodgins)

Portage (William Kentridge)

Breathe (William Kentridge)

Remembering the Treason Trial (William Kentridge)

Pocket Drawings (William Kentridge)

Learning the Flute (William Kentridge)

Libretto (William Kentridge)

GIF 1 (Various artists)

GIF 2 (Various artists)

GIF 3 (Various artists)

Antibody (Belinda Blignaut)

In Praise of Bristlecone Pines (Rita Deanin Abbey)

Patrick Cullinan, Selected Poems 1961 - 1991 (Patrick Cullinan, Judith Mason)

JUST 30 WORDS (INTERLINEARY) (Robbin Ami Silverberg)


Mark Attwood working on a artists' book by William Kentridge, "Remembering the Treason Trial".

You might like these

  • The Human Race by Robert Hodgins

    An artists' book playfully put together by Robert Hodgins with his own drawings.

  • Robbin Ami Silverberg

    An artists book printed on paper made by the artist with eggshell details

  • Rita Deanin Abbey In praise of Bristlecone Pines

    Rita Deanin Abbey In praise of Bristlecone Pines, a book done in collaboration with the artist and The Artists' Press which was published by the artist.

  • Qauqaua

    The first book ever with text by Bushmen, written in Naro with an English Translation, illustrated by Bushmen artists and bound in traditionally tanned leather.