The CODEX Effect and the Emergence of the “Third Stream” in the 21st Century

A conversation between artists, curators, scholars, and collectors



Since the turn of the millennium technological as well as cultural exchanges in the fields of printing and graphic arts have enabled new areas of artistic inquiry and therefore new collecting practices to emerge.

While private press, artist’s books, hybrid books, democratic multiples, book-like-objects, and zines are all competing for the attention of the private, museum and academic collections throughout the Western world, the biennial CODEX International Book Fair has emerged to represent the global reach of the high-craft spectrum in both art and literature.

At the CODEX International Book Fair we have observed that certain books inhabit a distinct and until recently, unexplored territory on the complex map of the book as a work of art. We refer to high-concept and high-craft books dwelling within the uncharted area where the wild variety of artist’s books on the one hand, and the more traditional private press books and livre d’artiste on the other, influence one another and propel the book into a new category altogether. We have begun to refer to this phenomenon as the Third Stream – one that is neither an avant-garde artist’s book nor an illustrated typographic book of the private press/livre d’artiste lineage.

The third stream book incorporates and even accelerates techniques learned from new technologies while at the same time provides a locus that encourages a refreshing and deeper exploration of traditional artisanal crafts. Classically trained artists and printers who are both accomplished masters and experimentally minded are rare, and when successful, able to propel their ideas of the possibility of a book beyond the easy and comfortable categories while exhibiting an extraordinary sense of place and making.

New currents indicate the emergence and evolution of highly gifted artists and artisans who embrace the tools and production skills of the traditional arts while dancing on the razor’s edge of intellectual and technological change.




Betty Bright, Curator & Independent Scholar; John Buchtel, Boston Athenaeum; Paul van Capelleveen, National Library of the Netherlands; Mark Dimunation, Library of Congress; David Faulds, The Bancroft Library; Susan K. Filter, Art Conservator & CODEX Foundation Board of Directors; Jack Ginsberg, Collector & Bibliophile; David JuryAuthor, designer, printer, & Lecturer Cambridge School of Art; Peter Rutledge Koch, Printer, Publisher, & CODEX Foundation Board of Directors; Clemens Tobias Lange, Artist & printer; Mark Samuels Lasner, Collector, University of Delaware Library Scholar; Russell Maret, Author, artist, & printer; Timothy D. Murray, Head, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library; Didier Mutel, Artist & printmaker; Aaron ParrettAuthor, scholar, & printer; Marcia Reed, Getty Research Institute; Ruth RogersWellesley College Library; Veronika Schäpers, Artist & printer; Nina M. Schneider, The Clark Library UCLA; Stefan Soltek, The Klingspor Museum Offenbach; Stephanie Stillo, Library of Congress; Roberto G. Trujillo, Stanford University Libraries & CODEX Foundation Board of Directors; Tony White, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art