Photo by Mario Sorrenti, from

There a so many treasures held by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection. We were having an “art day” in the city, and decided to check out this alma mater resource, which is open to the public, and located downtown on Wabash Ave. We were delighted to meet director AnneDorothee Boehme, who told us a little bit about the collection and invited us to browse.

The artists’ book “Scent”, by Visionaire Magazine is from the collection, and the iceberg image above is from the book. This type of book is known as an ephemeral work.(Ephemera are paper items that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.) The book explores some abstract concepts. What is the scent of cold? Electricity? Softness?
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The book contains 20 vials of perfume coordinating with the abstract images in the book, and created by 75 perfumers from around the world in collaboration with artists including David Bowie, Karl Lagerfeld, and Kate Moss.

We also came across this article from SAIC recently, and learned more about how Boehme purchases for the collection, which now contains over 7,000 artists’ books, and includes ephemera. Work chosen is often based upon departmental course listing, including works that are potentially interesting to students and faculty.

Just one example of a result of her efforts is the class being held in Flasch space by Performance faculty member Mark Jeffery. His class looks at what it means to work with ephemera, as they re-perform old documents found in the collection.

If you want to see the collection for yourself, we suggest that you call ahead to make sure that there isn’t something special going on in the library space.

“Some titles in the Joan Flasch collection are categorized “Restricted Access” due to the condition or rarity of the item. To view these please contact or call 312.899.7486; prior notification of one working day is necessary. All material is non-circulating. Walk-in visitors are welcome.”

Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection
37 S. Wabash Avenue
Suite 508
Chicago, IL 60603