John Frederick Walker

4. art


Angry Book (2022) mixed media /altered book 11 3/8 x 20 x 3 inches


“Walker…whose work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Yale University Art Gallery and Brooklyn Museum Library, is a bibliophile. He is also a minimalist, whose early work was preoccupied with the division of pictorial space. For the last 20 years, however, his art has opened up, as it were, into the boundaries of actual books, which have been radically altered into what look like abstract paintings, or the bruised artifacts from a natural history museum.

But at the center of all these works is the spine of a book, its pages ripped out…Walker then alters the end-papers and disfigured gutter of the book….Throughout his work, the framing device of the book suggests stories left untold, knowledge intentionally defaced, lives whose details have been erased.”

—Tracey O’Shaughnessy, Republican-American



Lost Chapters, 2022. Mixed media /altered book 11 ¼  x 23 x ¾ inches  



Lip Service, 2012. Mixed media / altered book 4.5 x 5 inches. Private Collection

“He is interested in the book as object, the book as form, a book’s essential physicality. Part sculpture, part collage, Walker’s ‘book art’… ranges from dramatic, wall-dominating pieces to charming diminutive works.”

—Emily Soell, The Lakeville Journal


10JFWStolenText copy 2
Stolen Text, 2013-6. Mixed media /altered book 17.5 x 29 x 3 inches

Lost Codex, 2012. Mixed media /altered book 15 x 23 ¼  x 2 inches

“All share the theme of lost, missing or destroyed information, expressed through the device of books, notebooks, or folded paper from which pages or sheets have been torn or cut. In each case, what remains becomes an armature for Walker’s drawing, a process that transforms these objects into original and evocative forms.”

—Kathryn Boughton, The Litchfield County Times

Double Enumeration, 2012. Mixed media 9 ½ x 17 3/8 x 3 3/8 inches.  Brooklyn Museum of Art



Remnant Codex, 2012. Mixed media /altered book 27 ¾ x 36 ½ x ¼ inches. Private Collection


Sundered Text, 2012. Mixed media / altered book 28 x 44 x ½ inches


Flightless Codex, 2011. Mixed media / altered book 25 x 53 ½ x 1 ¼ inches

Étonne-moi (study), 2010.  Mixed media / altered book  19 x 14 x ½ inches. Private Collection

“Walker has altered old books and journals to tell new stories, recall old ones and give entirely different meanings to the originals. Because Walker has long been obsessed with multipanel work—diptych, triptych—the book gutter divides two panels on which to tell his new narratives or hint at hidden meanings… another arresting piece is a black book splayed with its board covers and red spine facing us. Through jagged trapezoidal cutouts the same young face—nose, open, red-lipped mouth, one pink cheek only—shows through on each side. Is the face boy or girl; is the mouth singing or screaming? These pieces are worth a visit.”

—Leon Graham, The Lakeville Journal

Sudden Emergence of the Southern Hemisphere, mixed media 2006

Sudden Emergence of the Southern Hemisphere, 2006. Mixed media / altered book 14 ¼  x 22 x 4 ½  inches.  The Center for Books Arts Collection

“Walker’s Sudden Emergence…consists of a globe emerging from an opened atlas…the ‘birthing’ of the world from a book certainly suggests that the knowledge of the world originates from books. Or … that the world is an unstoppable, primal force that has the potential at any moment to disrupt and reconfigure mankind’s carefully mapped, measured and codified representations.”

—Alexander Campos, Multiple, Limited, Unique


Little Dying Folio, mixed media 2006

Little Dying Folio, 2006. Mixed media / altered book 7 ½  x 18 ½  x 5 inches. Private Collection

Feverish Text, mixed media 2006. The Chasanoff Collection

Feverish Text, 2006. Mixed media /altered book 9 ¾  x 17 ¼  x 2 inches.    Yale University Art Gallery


Latest Installation views here.

Additional Installation views here.

Artist’s Statement here.

Exhibition list here.

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