Artists' Publications

JUST TO BE PERVERSE, let’s start off this column on artists’ books by considering, not elaborate sculptural bookworks or dazzling new technologies, but humble offset, the ubiquitous, seemingly characterless medium you are holding in your hand.

There are many reasons why offset lithography (its full name) forms most of the commercial matter we read. Chameleonlike, the process adapts to a wide variety of print- ing surfaces, sizes, and formats; it accepts layers of color, opening up possibilities for overprinting with multiple plates, or several passes of the same one. The basic technology, in which an image is transferred via an intermediate element or “blanket,” rather than directly to paper, is available in a range of presses, from manual to rotary. Conceivably, every artist could have a manual or hand-fed proofing press in his or her studio: they offer more immediacy and hands-on

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