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Leading the Popularization of Art “Art Books”

Imprint Under Munhakdongne Publishing Group Specializing in Art Content

 

2017.9.11

 

"Art is public property," says the leader of Art Books, Min-young Jeong. Art is something anyone can enjoy, not just people for whom art is their livelihood. Art Books shines in the world of art as its specialty is emotionally explaining the most specialized forms of art. Since its establishment in 2001, Art Books is leading the popularization of art by publishing books the public can see, read, feel and experience. The following is a Q&A with Jeong, the president of Art Books.

 

 

 

Could you offer us an introduction of Art Books to those in the publishing industry inside and outside South Korea who read our webzine?

  

Art Books was launched in May 2001 with the motto, "Make art a part of everyday life". With hopes regular people could all enjoy art by making the art world fun and accessible, we stepped up to bridge the public and art. We publish specialized books on art, but the ratio of books geared to the public is far higher. If specialized books speak reason, generalized books should emotionally approach readers. Art Books aims to do this.
Also, we publish local authors' books more than translated publications. We feel anyone can write and enjoy art, as it is public property. We also plan and publish books that are related to art. Art Books' publishing brand 'Alice' is responsible for those books. Through Alice, readers can enjoy books on travel, hobbies, music, cooking and other topics. Art galleries usually focus on exhibits and visitors, but they also have art shops, places to enjoy coffee or restaurants. In a similar way, Art Books mainly focuses on art books, but we also publish books on leisure that give energy to life.

 

 

We find the term "popularization of art" quite striking. How far do you think this can be achieved through books?

 

Like all types of fine art, artwork is one way people enjoy life. This means art doesn't have to be special. If poets express their thoughts through words and language, painters express their thoughts through visual language. I feel it's much easier to approach art by starting from thinking that art is an expression of thoughts. Of course, there are aspects which are difficult to understand as art has armed itself with different logic in time. However, once you identify the flow of thought within art and the artist's thoughts, it does not become that difficult to understand.
It is true art stands at an arm's length from everyday life. This is why in the publishing world, there are continued efforts to connect art with everyday life. For instance, books that use art to seek the wisdom of life, heal emotionally, develop oneself and grow creativity can commonly be found. These books let us know art is connected to our lives in many ways and lend the opportunity to give art a second glance. Art is not just play for artists - it is the study of humanity. Books on art help us find the fun in it and enjoy life deeply.

 

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There are many things to keep in mind when handling art-related content, like selecting themes or cover designs. I'm sure you try to perfect all, but could you tell us if one in particular takes higher priority?

 

I believe books are a medium that you see and feel and not just read. It's true the content of a book is the most important, but you cannot ignore the beauty of the shell that contains it. Books are a combination of content and form and form can also be its content. When readers say they are reading books, I feel they are also saying the books are being seen and felt.
By helping readers become aware of their everyday subconscious actions, we aim to educate them on the visual theories behind them. We want them to feel the subtle expressions book designs have, at least once. You've probably sensed this about me, but I am sensitive to the physical form of books. So when I look at a newly released book, I try to see whether the book visually and mentally helps readers fall into the content comfortably. When I see book designs that appropriately convey the content of the book, I am overjoyed. Good book designs are a way of showing respect for the content, and to the readers.

 

 

As an extension of the previous question, which book remains in your memory most? And why?

  

What I can immediately think of is,reading paintings, written by Je Park in 2007. It's a 496-page book that dissects six western paintings. The length of the book is what makes it amazing. Short books usually span some 100 pages while long ones go up to around 400. I have not seen a book for the public other than this, that has spent this much effort into explaining a single piece of art.
How we came about this book was quite interesting. A poet living in France came to us, wanting to publish a series of essays that had been published in a Korean newspaper in Paris. The poet also handed us a bundle of papers, wanting us to look at it, and that was this book. After poring over the two manuscripts he gave us, we felt the second bundle was better than the essays. We decided to publish this with the subtitle, "six eyes that look at mankind".
At that time most books on art on the market were of a moderate length, and it's still much the same, but I felt a large enough group of readers had formed who wanted lengthy books on art. The manuscript had come to us at just the right time. It was a bit of a shame that we didn't find as much demand for the book as we'd expected, but I am satisfied knowing we were able to introduce this book and the author to South Korea.

 

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What do you think makes a good book? A well made book?

  

A good book means it has decent content. A well made book likely means the book is designed beautifully. A good book is one that has firm content that is also well made. From the perspective of someone who creates books, we really try to exert a lot of energy into our book designs. This is because when readers select books, they enter the content first through the cover art which is right before their eyes. Once readers fall into the text, the design becomes a secondary factor, but I think readers end up reading the entire book thanks to the rhythmical design the designer has set up for them.I feel good books have cover art that respects the content inside. Personally, I enjoy looking at every bit of the cover on books as I do works of art. I would like to see more books that are well made.

 

 

Are there any books you'd like to introduce to our readers overseas from Art Books?

 

Yes, there are. I Lay My Heart On Paintings is one written by Ju-eun Lee that offers comfort through art more effectively than a hundred words. Sensing Beauty in China, Korea and Japan by Sang-hyun Ji that compares the cultural landscape between the three countries through old art works is another. The Art Museum of Knowledge by Ju-heon Lee is one that expands one's understanding on knowledge and information through art, while Jung-kwon Chin's Lecture on Modern Aesthetics offers a look into the flow of modern beauty through the eyes of eight philosophers. Chin's Angelus Novus is an observation of the aesthetic-oriented life. Byeong-gun Song's A Visual History of the Economy and The Landscape of Globalization deals with the secrets of world history found in paintings and key moments in globalization.

 

 


Arranged by Ji-hye Gwon 

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