Books Without Words: The Visual Poetry of Elisabetta Gut

Endowed with an aura of originality and poetic whimsy, Elisabetta Gut’s book-objects must be seen rather than read. Gut was born in Rome and has lived there ever since. She studied at the city’s art institute and later at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1964 Gut created her first book-object Diario (Diary), and from that time on she has devoted most of her energy to the exploration of the relationship among language, music, image, and nature through book arts and visual poetry.

Buzz Spector, the conceptual and book artist, describes book-objects as “a genre of artwork that refers to forms, relations, and configurations of the book.” A uniqueness and tactile physicality defines Gut’s book-objects. Ideas are expressed through the symbolic meanings of found or fabricated objects, rather than through words. The artist frequently uses organic matter such as leaves, seeds, and wood in her work.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is home to more than 1,000 artist’s books. This fall, NMWA will host “Books Without Words: The Visual Poetry of Elisabetta Gut”. Featured in the exhibition will be Volo-volume (Flight Volume), 1980, from NMWA’s collection (below).

Elisabetta Gut, “Volo-volume” (Flight Volume), 1980; Paper, wood, wool, spray paint; Museum purchase: Library and Research Center Book Acquisition Fund

Krystyna Wasserman is Curator of Book Arts at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  Since 1987, she has carefully assembled NMWA’s outstanding collection of artists’ books and has curated numerous exhibitions.