Boreas Fine Art offers a carefully chosen selection of artists’ and fine press books from the post-war and contemporary eras.  Our inventory includes books that have either become the iconic works of their medium or represent the best work by the most promising emerging artists working today.

If you are in Chicago please call or write to arrange a visit to our studio/showroom at 260 E. Chestnut in the Gold Coast neighborhood.  Located between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, we are an easy walk from Sotheby’s, Christie’s, the Newberry Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the American Library Association, the Poetry Foundation, the John Hancock Building, and the Water Tower shopping district.  We will be happy to show you without obligation any of the books on this website.  Mere curiosity is sufficient reason for a visit.

Boreas Fine Art is owned and operated by Michael Thompson, a bookseller and dealer based in Chicago.  Michael serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Center for Book Arts (New York) and as chair of the Library Society at the University of Chicago.  He is a past president of the Caxton Club, Chicago’s bibliophilic organization, and is currently Chairman of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies.  He was formerly on the Council of the Bibliographical Society of America, Chair of its Finance Committee and he was a Trustee of the Newberry Library.  A complete curriculum vitae can be found here.

Boreas Fine Art is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, headquartered in New York, and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.  Clicking on the logos at the bottom of the page will take you to our webpage on these sites.
























A Note About Terminology

The proper definition of an artist’s book, of a livre d’artiste, or of a fine press book has been the subject of much consideration and debate. The lines between them are not distinct but meaningful distinctions can and should be drawn.

The artist’s book by many accounts began in the 1960s with mass produced democratic multiples made by artists like Dieter Roth and Ed Ruscha although the genre had clear antecedents in the late eighteenth century with the finely crafted hand colored editions of William Blake (what he called “illuminated printing”) and in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the exquisite and even more finely crafted livres d’artistes created primarily in France by numerous artists, writers, and publishers, most notably Stéphen Mallarmé, Édouard Manet, André Derain, Ambroise Vollard, and Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler. The books offered here follow those earlier traditions but in many cases fit neither the finely crafted model nor the democratic multiple model perfectly.

In general, for the objects we offer and categorize as artists’ books we must be able to answer affirmatively two, and only two, questions: Is it art? Is it a book?


Is it art?

With respect to the first question, Marcel Duchamp’s formulation that “art is whatever an artist says it is” can be a compelling response, but in actuality it simply begs another question: who is an artist? About that some assessment needs to be made and in making it we follow but are not constrained by the consensus that typically emerges from the collectors, dealers, auction houses, and curators of the art world. For a book to be considered art and included in our inventory we need to be satisfied that the central driving force behind its creation is the mind, and in some cases the hand, of a well recognized or a promising emerging artist.


Is it a book?

The second question, namely what is a book, is more complex. Certainly the term comprises all the normal formats of codices, altered books, accordion books, tunnel books, scrolls, and so forth. But it may also include any physical object that has one or more of the essential attributes of a book: words or some other form of content, a system for ordered or intentionally random sequencing of information, a communicative intent, a narrative structure, portability, permanence, subject to copyright protection, called a book by its maker, etc. In short, for us a book is anything that could not be better described by another word.


A Fine Press Book

A Fine Press Book may but need not rise to the level of fine art, but it needs to be a book produced with careful attention to all aspects of the printer’s craft: design, ink, impression, paper stock, and binding. It is part of a long tradition of careful and beautiful craftsmanship beginning with William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. The Fine Press Book Association lists over one hundred presses operating in the United States and Europe, and we make every effort to include the best among them in our inventory.


Terms of Sale

All items are subject to prior sale; we attempt to keep this site up to date and succeed almost all of the time. Orders are accepted by email, post, fax, or telephone. Written orders should be accompanied by payment unless credit or other arrangements have been established in advance. Credit cards are accepted.

Sales to downstate Illinois are subject to a 6.25% Sales Tax and sales in Cook County are subject to a 9% Sales Tax. Institutions may receive deferred billing. Shipping and handling charges are extra and vary depending on the size of the item.

All purchases may be returned for any reason with notice and provided no damage has occurred. Please make arrangements in advance for a return.


Advisory Services

Boreas Fine Art can assist you in building an important and valuable collection of fine art or rare books in any area. We work with a wide variety of scholars and art consultants in many diverse fields. We are familiar with and follow closely the arcane economics of the art market and can assist you in researching, selecting, locating, appraising, and acquiring significant books and other works that will add value to your collection. We can also provide advice on disposing of collections or individual works.

If you would like to receive further information about this service, if you have a question about a specific object in our inventory, or if you would like us to locate a particular book for you, please email us at or call us at 847 733 1803 or write us at the address shown below.

© 2018 Boreas Fine Art