HESE VOLUMES, once called “luxury editions,” have to meet certain criteria in order to merit the term livres d’artiste: they must be meticulously typeset and printed on highest quality paper, presented in bindings and casings of distinction and, finally, published only in limited editions.(…) The book’s materials and appearance are quite definitely as important as the texts and engravings themselves: all elements must flow together smoothly to form a work of art whose components blend into total harmony.” (Jean-Pierre Duquette in issue 48 of the journal Ellipse.)

OW RELEVANT is the publication of le livre d’artiste today? Is it pure nostalgia? It is a blend of past and present, the product of numerous encounters between image and text, print and poetry, typography and paper, handpress and computer, binding and jewellery, ancient crafts and modern means of communication. This book-as-object continually brings together elements from near and far. For example, Conversations with a Toad, by Robert Bringhurst, combines a major text of contemporary Canadian poetry with four traditions that, until now, have had no common point of contact:

THE SUBJECT—the toad—draws inspiration from the art of indigenous peoples of the West Coast ;
• TYPOGRAPHIC RESEARCH characteristic of the English bibliophile edition;
• the importance given to THE ENGRAVING, as it is in the French riches illustrations; and
• JAPANESE ENGRAVING and printing techniques.


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