Book Sculptor or Book Surgeon?

Dettmer01 If you thought Jonathan Safran Foer liked to cut up books, then prepare to be delighted by the work of Chicago-based artist Brian Dettmer, who crafts old encyclopedias, medical journals, and dictionaries into completely original sculptures. But according to Dettmer's website, he only manipulates the books, never adding new elements.

I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. 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.

More photos of Dettmer's work after the jump.

Leave a Comment

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until approved.

Comments (20)

Heavens, that's impressive.

Posted by: Ben | Wednesday March 2, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Normally, I'm not in favor of defacing books. But, good God, those are impressive works of art!

Posted by: David Abrams | Wednesday March 2, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Wow this is so awesome !!!

Posted by: גמילה מסמים | Wednesday March 2, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Amazing Art!

Posted by: Steven | Thursday March 3, 2011 at 4:14 AM

That's just about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.


Posted by: Bendos71 | Thursday March 3, 2011 at 10:28 AM


Posted by: Adam | Friday March 4, 2011 at 11:01 PM

My gosh, I make subsurface geology maps and can visualize in 3D, but some of these are mind boggling. How do you look at a book and see something like some of these. I'll never look at and old illustrated book the same again.

Posted by: Gaylon | Sunday March 6, 2011 at 12:22 PM

In most cases, I agree with the published cover. A Gate at the Stairs, though. Eh, the crayons aren't great, but they're better than the real cover.

Posted by: Jordan Space Jams | Wednesday June 8, 2011 at 2:47 AM

You never know your luck.

Posted by: Cheap Sandals | Sunday July 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM

You never knodw your luck.

Posted by: Christian Louboutins | Sunday July 10, 2011 at 10:59 PM

You have to believe in yourself . That's the secret of success .
You have to believe in yourself . That's the secret of success .

Posted by: Jordan Fusion Shoes | Thursday July 21, 2011 at 12:21 AM

If your world doesn't allow you to dream, move to one where you can.

Posted by: Vibrams Five Fingers | Thursday July 21, 2011 at 12:26 AM

All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.

Posted by: Asics Onitsuka Tiger | Saturday July 23, 2011 at 1:01 AM

live in the applause of others, are people can not stand the test of time.

Posted by: Jordan Shoes | Wednesday July 27, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Maturity is the stage in life when we may not see eye-to-eye, but we can still walk arm-in-arm.

Posted by: Buy Sandals | Sunday July 31, 2011 at 11:50 PM

Truth and tears clear the way to a deep and lasting friendship.

Posted by: Vibram 5 Fingers | Sunday July 31, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Never done in the article comments, this is my first network comments, appreciate you sharing. Very good article

Posted by: Ed Hardy | Wednesday August 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

All is not lost that is in danger.

Posted by: Brand Bikinis | Monday August 8, 2011 at 1:13 AM

We’ve already seen artists make magic out of materials like paper, cardboard and even toilet paper rolls. One related creative trend we’ve been seeing lately is that of book sculptures. (We wonder if it has to do with the speedy demise of print as artists try to find new ways of engaging with these analog cultural artifacts whose core function digital platforms are deeming obsolete.)

Posted by: Events Courses Brisbane | Monday November 7, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Amazing art!these are just most beautiful art i have seen

Posted by: april | Wednesday March 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking


Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards


Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube