Today the Department of Beguiling Book Art explores the exquisite work of New York-based artist Brian Dettmer, a self-described Book Surgeon, who uses knives, tweezers and surgical tools to transform old books into amazing, multi-layered sculptures. Taking one page at a time, Dettmer painstakingly carves out illustrations and text from old medical journals, dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias and other beautifully illustrated books. Nothing is ever added or rearranged, only removed. The pages and spines of the books are manipulated to further shape the book sculptures. He also combines multiple books, folding, bending, rolling and stacking them to create larger and even more complex sculptural forms.
Dettmer views his artwork as an intensive collaboration with the existing material:
“Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories, ” explains Dettmer in the artist’s statement. “My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.”